Firstly if I repeat myself in any way…tough! I am not apologising for that, mainly because it is impossible to put everything in the exact order of events with these things. I suspect many reading this will not search around for repeat information..Don’t waste your time just read on…Emotions suppress memory so in some instances snippets pop back into my head after time and drop onto the key board . Tears do the same and at that point I make myself stop until I gather myself back together.
Have to admit that this stuff is just kind of flowing out of me like molten lava….oddly its going in as Hardy’s Shiraz? Go figure!!
Anyway….my thoughts today took me back to the first time I decided it was a good idea to find my Birth Mother. I was 18 years of age, knew everything and was struggling with my first proper unsuitable boyfriend. Like all adoptees I was also aware that legally I was allowed to start looking so frankly who was going to tell me I couldn’t? No-one that’s who!
My mother happened to work for the Citizens Advice Bureau at the time and furnished me with the useful paperwork and documents to help me start the process. I was shipped off up country to calm down my teenage angst in the care of my lovely Granny. Bless her, she didn’t expect the teenager she got for a few weeks. I will tell you the tale from when I first landed on her doorstep……..
So, I dumped my problem boyfriend by phone..well I was 18 , how else do you do it? I decided I needed to be baggage free to pursue this quest. I had a folder of information including last known address of my BM, Maternity Hospital address, and other information deemed useful. Please keep in mind I was 18…in my view not emotionally mature enough to consider the knock on effect of such a massive undertaking.
Also I was a bloody minded little cow. Yes, I know , hard to believe it isnt it!Ha..Seriously though I have a personal dread of when my own daughter hits 18 and becomes even more like her Mama..
So my Guardian , and Uncle lived in the same area. Still aware that I was determined to do this , my mother enlisted his help to either ensure I stayed safe or to put me off the scent. Who knows? At the time it felt it was definitely the former. Well, transport was an essential so for that I was certainly grateful.
I know I have written of this episode in brief before so if you get bored, go make a cuppa and read the next blog post? Or bear with me as I spew this out…
First stop was the place of birth. I was born , so I believed in the maternity ward of a Cottage Hospital. Back then it was just that. Now the maternity unit is integrated into the main hospital and clearly more state of the art. The original Unit is now a separate building . It is in fact now a home for the Elderly. We walked into the building, my Uncle amazed at how historic features were still intact after 18 years..So it seems that as old folk are wheeled past me by starched Nurses, I am in a building alien to anything remotely like a Maternity ward.
Ahead of me I see a wall entirely made of stain glass. The imagery is of a Winnie the Pooh scene. Inappropriate for an Old Folks home was my first thought. Then as if in a time warp I had this jolt of memory, almost as if I remembered seeing this some place before. How the hell could I remember this?, I was maybe a week old when I would have last seen this. Rubbish, I cant possibly have this as an actual memory? Or could I? All I do know is that window had a profound effect on me that day and to today . No clue why…
There was a room in this building dedicated to the changes the ‘home’ had gone through over the years, you know, renovations, extensions, rebuilds, new windows , all in keeping with its historical appearance, maybe it is even listed, I never knew. Every year was carefully documented in a series of photographs and Newspaper clippings from the early 1900s to date. The only year missing on this display was the year of my birth?? 1969! Don’t ask me why but it threw me and hit me quite hard as I kind of took it personally! Stupid I know, but at the time it was like a very loud message which was already a whisper in my inner ear ‘Leave it alone, you’re not ready!……’Leave it alone, you’re not ready!……’Leave it alone, you’re not ready!……It was like on repeat and I kept shrugging it off. ‘Go away, I’ll decide if I’m ready!! ‘ . I was on a mission..You leave it alone! Hmmmmm…see I was a right little madam!
Moving on from this Home for the Elderly , we set off to the last known address of my BM..well the address she was supposed to have lived in following my birth anyway, I of course never lived there but it was documented that she did so we set off to find it.
In those days the area was undergoing something of a massive ‘Regeneration’ and buildings were going up and others were coming down…As a not-so-salubrious area of Manchester we were both more than a little apprehensive about venturing into the unknown…We pressed on though.
The road where we needed to be was one of the most surreal things I have even seen. I can’t help thinking we must have ignored a ROAD CLOSED sign because what we encountered will stay with me forever. You see, the road in question was in the process of being bulldozed. Around 15 houses in this cul-de-sac and the first 7 or 8 were already piled up rubble. We drove over gravel until we reached the numbered house we wanted. The very next house to be bulldozed was the house we were looking for. Obviously no-one was living there now! If they were they were in for one hell of a surprise when they got home from work eh! So I couldn’t help wondering and still do today, Was this a message to say You are too late? Or maybe This is the wrong path to take? . The whispering in my head was getting steadily louder…’Leave it alone, your’e not ready!……Damnit!!
My Uncle turned to me gravely and said ‘ What Now’? I replied ‘ Take me home please Uncle…I knew there and then this was a journey for another age, time , decade, whatever it was this was NOT the time and too many subliminal messages were telling me that the Earth was not going to give up this information until my heart and soul could handle it.
So I proceeded to do what any self disrespecting 18 year old girl of the world would do. I answered an ad in the local paper looking for ‘models’ and in a way I think my Uncle humoured me by letting me go for it. Without going into too much detail, I just hope the ‘Calendar’ for which I modelled back then was buried very deeply in the archives somewhere never to be given the light of day. When you are requested to wear something sheer? Think twice people!! By ‘Sheer’ they mean SEE THROUGH!. Enough said!
Then to top off the exposure to teenage angst for my dear old Granny I went and found myself an even more unsuitable boyfriend..you know..he bought me a lovely purple and pink shell suit! (Yes, I know!) If anyone had flicked the ash of a cigarette at me in a nightclub I would have gone up like a bloody candle! He proudly wore his bottle green shell suit and Nike trainees ( Manchester speak!), constantly chewed gum..even when we snogged? Ugh! and he showed me off like his trophy bird around the clubs and seedier bars of Manchester . I was ‘officially ‘ at the cinema of course. He drove me around in one of those Series 3 BMWs with spoilers and body coloured bumpers. He was the perfect, inappropriate boyfriend, I excelled in picking him! Suffice it to say it lasted as long as a tank of fuel in his modified passion wagon, but it was a fun interlude nevertheless!
Eventually I was returned home, mutual agreement and a stern talking to from my beloved and patient Grandad. He never said a lot. I would watch him chain smoke and flick his fag butt into the metal bin in front of him and dash over to make sure it was out! One day I asked him ‘ Do you not get bored sat there half the day? He said ‘Sometimes my child, I sit and think! & other times I just sit’ . Respect! Wish I could just sit and not think so it was quite a skill he had learned over the years. Miss and loved my dear Granny and Grandad and I wear her engagement ring everyday. The fact a couple meet at 15 and remained together and in love until they died is testimony to all that is good in the world I say. RIP
Anyway, I return home ready to find my next challenge …and unsuitable boyfriend number 3..cant recall him even if I did find him..point is I was ready to move past this desperate need to find my BM as the message was still ringing in my ears and I decided to listen to it …for now….’Leave it alone, your’e not ready!……
Thanks for reading ..
Black Sheep xxx