As I approach the autumn of my life (well, some would say I’m already there, as I’ll hit 60 in 2016), I find myself thinking back to my childhood and my parents more and more.
I hardly had a conventional upbringing as my Dad died when he was 66 and I was 11, and my Mum was 49 at that time. I suppose we’ll never know if I’d have turned out differently had I come along when they were younger. But then again, if they’d had me younger, would I still be me, anyway? I could go crazy trying to fathom that!
One incident really stands out from my early life. D’you remember the old saying: “Out of the mouths of babes,” meaning a small child says something that surprises you because it shows an adult’s wisdom and understanding of a situation?
I reckon I must have been about five when I was having tea with Mum, my Grandmother and Grandfather. Suddenly I needed to say something, and started to talk. But unfortunately for me, Mum and Granny were in full flow.
Mum turned to me sternly: “Stewart, we’re talking. Be quiet.” So I was duly quiet for a few moments, but the urgency of the situation grew.
“Stewart, be quiet.”
Another minute passed. “Mum…there’s….”
“Stewart, you wait until Granny and I have finished talking before you say anything.” To which I replied: “If I wait for you and Granny to finish talking I should never say anything.” At this juncture my Grandfather started choking on his cup of tea, before eventually uttering the immortal phrase: “Out of the mouths of babes.”
Order was swiftly restored, as was Mum and Granny’s full flow.
When they finally finished, Mum turned to me and said: “Now, Stewart, what did you want to say?”
“I just wanted to say there was a big hair on Granny’s piece of cake. But she’s eaten it now.”
Cue Grandfather choking on his tea again.
I don’t have many regrets, but one that hangs heavy in my heart is that I always wish I had made efforts to heal the rift with my Mum that developed in my teens. There were faults on both sides, but I could have made the first move – and didn’t.
We still saw each other, but only once a month and our relationship was distant. Don’t ask me why…I don’t know. She was a strong and forceful personality…so am I when I need to be. Maybe that was it, perhaps we just clashed.
But you only get one Mum. So make the most of her while she’s here. Tell her you love her, and show her you love her. Looking back I can see what a wonderful job my Mum did in bringing me up in difficult circumstances, yet I can’t recall ever telling her that.
It’s too late now. My Mum died in 2000. Two of my books are about time travel. Do you think that’s me wishing I could turn back the clock like my characters can, just to say: “Mum, I love you, and thank you”?
My Dad died on May 15th 1967, just three days before we heard I passed the 11+ and regrettably I only have very few strong memories of him. But recently, while clearing out some family papers, I found this letter he wrote to his sister, my aunt. You must remember it was written 12 years before the NHS was founded. This tells me all I need to know about the man I am proud to call my Dad.
“24th Jan. 1936.
My Darling Sister,
Just a tiny note to tell you I shall be thinking of you on your birthday. Be quick and get quite better.
I was not going to tell you what your present was until you came home, but you seemed to be worrying about the cost of your illness, so I must tell you the secret. My Dear, my present is to settle the account at the Queen Mary Hospital, as the best thing I can possibly give you, and the one I most desire you to have, is renewed health. The doctor assured me last night, that, as soon as you have recovered your strength, you will be wonderfully well.
If you will not be able to look at this birthday present in the same way that you look at others, you will be able to think, in the years to come, that my present to you in 1936 was the best of all, and that with God’s help I was able to give you renewed health. So please, Darling, do not trouble your little head any more.
With all my love,
Your loving Brother.”
Stewart Bint, from Leicestershire, in the UK, is the author of seven books. He is also a Public Relations writer and magazine columnist. Previous roles include radio newsreader, phone-in host, and presenter.
He is married to Sue, with two grown-up children, Chris and Charlotte, and a budgie called Alfie.
Available from online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, all Stewart Bint’s books can be found directly on his author page at Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StewartJBint
Author’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/stewartbint
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stewart.bint?ref=profile
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Guest posts are the opinion of that author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Gilda Evans or others posted here.