Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Heroes All; Past and Present.

    There is a television series running at the moment called Born to be Different. It is an inspirational, unsentimental, candid British Channel 4 series filmed over several years chartering the lives of six disabled children and their families. It is remarkable for several reasons. It is totally lacking in self pity, and not without humour in spite of adversity; courageous individuals all, children and adults alike. I have seldom felt so humbled for many a year; compulsive viewing which will be for ever remembered.
Like many other instances in life, the present, in this instance Born to be Different made me recall the past, and in my case, brought about an awareness not previously present.
    I was born in November, 1939. My mother was unmarried, my father's name a secret she took to her grave (in 1953). I was born with a condition which I was told in later years was a twisted bowel but was almost certainly pyloric stenosis. I was operated on within twelve or so hours of birth. I also spent many months hospitalised in infancy suffering from rickets (Lack of pre-natal care and general poor diet.) The hospital in Bretby, South Derbyshire was around twenty miles from my mother's home; my mother did not drive or own a vehicle. We were poor in the extreme. My mother married a soldier, Ernest, who, in 1942 was found drowned in the River Derwent whilst home on leave from the Pioneer Corp in the British Army. My mother attended, alone, an inquest in Derby in order to identify Ernest's body.
    All these facts and more are covered at length in A Childhood Revisited on Kindle, Amazon. (See the lengthy review at the beginning of my blogs. May I ask, if nothing else, you read the FREE introduction here, and you DON'T need a Kindle to read it! Very easy, just click the arrow\ cursor on the book cover.)
    My mother died at the age of forty seven; I was thirteen years of age. (The death certificate stated cause of death, pneumonia; it ought to have said, 'cause of death, worn out due to overwork'.
  Born to be Different reminded me of my childhood. How resilient are children, particularly in adversity. How different they look at life in so many ways.
    For all the problems of my own childhood, I have happy memories. Different to the norm, maybe but often happy. I now realise how difficult it is to be a parent. I was unaware to the nth degree of such things. Perhaps it is 'clever stuff', that often the problems of the world are 'missed' by the young.
    My life aged around aged five to fifteen revolved around football, trips up the fields, train spotting, dens, and dams; my pleasures, my life, me, me, me. My mother's world consisted mainly of work, work and more work. School cook, skivy, mother of two children. Minimum income for maximum effort. (One of my mother's jobs as school cook/dogsbody in 1948 paid £38.8.9 for a year's work. Three hours per day per five day week; actually paid for, two and a half hours per day. When the school, Ockbrook Junior became short of money it was debated as whether to cut my mothers wage! Some kind soul in fact decided otherwise! )
    I had no real comprehension concerning rationing and shortages; the ever presence of impetigo, nits; ringworm, scarlet fever, whooping cough and the like. I reckon I had almost no comprehension of anything beyond my selfish existence.
    On a bad day I am filled with remorse as to what a hard, relentless existence was my mother's lot in life.  It is a fact that I was unaware as to the world beyond my cocooned, sheltered, safe, oblivious little existence. And it should be obvious why I had such a cocooned, sheltered, safe, oblivious existence. That's what hurts most. Had I the right to be so happy I wonder.
    Many, many adults, my mother included sacrificed their lives in order that their children had chances in life they themselves were denied. Make no mistake, for many they were hard times. Austerity, a buzz word indeed; the majority today do not really know the meaning of the word. ( Though there are many today who still live for their children; love for one's offspring will always be with us. Without love we are all nothing.)
    Life is seldom simple. There is a popular saying, 'Life is what you make it'. The older I get, the less I know. What I do know is that there were and still are are some wonderful people in the world. The families in the documentaries;  plus my mother, Mary Elizabeth Stevens. 


Fred Vanderbom said...

I was interested by your also starting life with an early op episode. But don't dismiss too quickly that you may have had a strangulated bowel. This is often evident at birth and needs immediate relief, quite understandably so. Pyloric stenosis can also be present at birth but only rarely. I had the operation at 10 days and it most commonly presents at between 3-6 weeks. It also doesn't need immediate surgery, as it's best to stabilise the body chemistry first, this taking 12-24 hours.
In any case, having an abdominal op so early in 1939 (or 1945) was hazardous and quite crude, and this must have been unimaginably scary for your young mother.
Best wishes - we're survivors!

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John Smith said...

Hopefully Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons have done some real research this time.
Hallandwrye Arm Lift

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Julie said...

Ey up Ken, but you've got some spam above.

I can recommend Ken's kindle book to anyone, both hubby and I enjoyed it. He particularity enjoyed it because he was born in Codnor - so a Derbyshire lad - in March 1940.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Fred Vanderborn

Hi Welcome

I'm sure you're right.
You're right too. Due for new knee shortly!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

John Smith

Welcome to my world!

Grumpy Old Ken said...


Welcome! Have problems with spam, I'm not very technical. Thanks for the book sale! Love your down to earth blog!

Ginny said...

Your mother sounds like an amazing woman who did the best she could for you.

I think sometimes you don't realize how much your parents did for you until you're an adult but I think that's just part of growing up.