A Birthday – A child’s guilt!

Dear Mum and Dad

It was my eighth Birthday; Sunday 28 February 1960; Jerry had left for Boarding school for the first time in late January and Chloe and Steve had left around the same time; this would be their last year at school.

Margo was not to grace us with her presence until late this year; I am not sure whether we had a Nanny in place at the time, but to the best of my recollection; there were only four of us at home; you two plus Terry and I.

Every little kid is excited about their Birthday and I was certainly no exception. I had no real expectation as to what my present would be, but for a kid who had been dressed in “hand me downs” since birth; unwrapping a brand new, store bought shirt was just about the most exciting thing I could have done!

It was a short sleeve, blue shirt with orange and yellow patterns of fish and shells; I loved it and could not wait to try it on.

It was the last Sunday of the month, which meant we had Sunday school at 10.00 am followed by Church at 11.00 am and I eagerly anticipated showing off my new shirt to the kids gathered in the village for this monthly ritual.

I put the shirt on around 7.00 am, hoping to wear it until we were ready to leave, I paraded out to the big dining room, doing my best modelling impersonation.

Things had been calm at home for a while now and when Mum first told me to take the shirt off, I decided to try my luck and begged to be able to keep it on.

Something snapped and the next thing I knew; I was in the middle of a screaming row between the two of you. I tried to get away but with Mum grasping the shirt I did not want it ripped and had to stand there in the middle of a raging battle.

“Just Leave it Carol, just leave it” there was almost pleading in Dad’s voice, something you didn’t hear too often.

“He doesn’t appreciate anything!” Mum screamed hysterically and threatened to rip the shirt off my back.

I had witnessed many battles between the two of you, but there was something different about this one; it was a new level of bitterness and vitriol as the screaming match escalated.

Dad sort of stepped back and slapped Mum on the side of the face; she crumbled into a screaming wreck on the floor. I don’t know who was the most shocked by this turn of events, I had never seen Dad strike you, I don’t think he had ever done anything like this before this before and the look of pure horror on Mum’s face probably bore this out.

Dad grabbed me roughly and we walked out and down to the sheds, both of us guilt ridden.

“Son, I have just done something unforgivable, you must never hit a woman!” he said as we walked along, I had never seen my father like this.

It was my fault and I am so very sorry; that shirt was forever tainted in my mind, the joy of a birthday totally dissipated.

A small boy’s guilt knew no bounds.

There was no going to Church today!

I am so sorry.

Bruce

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