A remembrance of my Father, John Francis Morrissey. When Daddy as I referred to him died January 1978, it was the biggest shock of my life, Stupid that may sound but I never imagined that my Daddy would die
I hated visiting Daddy in Hospital and having to pretend he would be alright but when in fact he was going to die. “Don’t tell Mr Morrissey he has Lung Cancer and that he has little time left” requested the Doctors. Why did the Doctors say this, well my Father had inherited Heart problems from both his Mother and Father, and in fact I have inherited those Heart problems too, around four years ago I was told I had Heart Failure, there you go. The Doctors said the shock would be too much for my Father, really?
I digress, when there was no more hope if indeed there had been any. My Mother decided to bring him home from the hospital, Daddy so wanted to come home, I felt he knew what was wrong and that he had little time left. I would sit and watch him and listen to him trying to get his breath, it was awful. Listening at the very end still makes me cry, that awful “Death Rattle”, I vowed I would never listen again or if I ever had Children, allow them to hear that “Death Rattle” when their Father or I died and in fact when I had two Sons and they were young Children when their own Father died of “Small Cell Cancer” in 1994, I asked the Doctor was there any way that there would not be the “Death Rattle”, he gave my Husband an injection and David died so peacefully in my arms with his young Sons holding his hands, and no death rattle.
Neither of my Parents could be described as loving, not the way that I loved/love my Sons. My Father’s life had been one of working long hours as a Supervisor at Fords in Dagenham, Essex. Daddy coming from Ireland (born in the Blarney Village) he worked in the Fords plant in Cork City, my Father was asked with others would they like to work in the new plant they had just built in England and my Father said “yes”. My Mother, also Irish from West Cork, well her life was one of cleaning/cooking and washing and cleaning other peoples houses too, later she went to work for Sainsbury’s Food chain. When I came along on May 14, 1949 my Mother’s biggest job was to “control me” she regarded me as a “tomboy”, if only, and her favourite words for me “bold and brazen”, she had to be joking, I was too scared of her.
Any sign of spirit I would show or independance I was slapped down, she was good with her hands always leaving the print of her hands on my legs/thighs and arms. But by far my Mother’s favourite means of controlling me was to use the Bamboo Cane, her beloved Bamboo Cane she still had in her bedroom in my House when she died aged 92 years. She was so proud when she would tell her only two Grandchildren my Sons, when they would ask what the stick was for, she would say “your Mother, trouble is she never got enough of it”, my Sons would come to me crying. The last time I got the cane I was in my teens and because I would not go to Mass, now how could I forget that.
She would whip me and even now I still hear the “swish, swish” sounds as the cane came down on my flesh. A Doctor told me once she was very clever my Mother, as she only ever caned my thighs and back her best place lower spine just above my bottom, then the scars would not be seen. Scars, albeit faint, I still have on my back. Having been born with a severe spinal curvature, my Parents did nothing about, well it did not help and the pain today I always feel she is to blame for. I have Scoliosis and OsteoArthritis and far too many memories of what my Mother did. Quiet moments and they come back to haunt me.
When Daddy died, half an hour after he died I tried to comfort my Mother, she pushed me away up against the Dining Room wall and said the words I can never forget and have haunted me all my life. “I never wanted you, I only ever wanted ellen” (my so called sister). My Mother had kept these words locked inside her for Thirty years, it took her Husband’s, my Father’s death for her to say these words, that would help destroy me in so many ways.
It was the catalyst for all the problems in my life. I was just over one year from having my first Child, my first Son. Four years later I had a second Son and longed to have two more. But my Mother, as usual, interfered and my Husband allowed her to and I was told “no more children”, yes it may have been the end of the 1970s but women like me did exist – catholic (later lapse) Irish strict background, did still do what your Mother said what your Husband said. Looking back was I a fool to take notice not to stand up for myself, you bet I was. I would be screaming inside but I obeyed like a stupid fool. Do I regret the marriage, over the last few years digesting everything that happened oh YES I regret it, but not my Sons they were worth it all. I so wanted more Babies and that broke my heart. I have no shame in saying one of my Doctors arranged counselling for me, the first session I barely spoke a word and then all of a sudden I spoke and never stopped for six sessions and then a further six some time later. It helped so much and I released so much that I had locked away in my mind.
Around four years after Daddy died my Husband wanted to buy a bigger house by the Sea, I accepted all he said “You know best David” that’s what I always said to him. Then my mother announced she and my four years older than me spinster sister would like to move in with us. I dreaded it, I had been a Bird in a cage, I escaped now I was going to be put back into that cage. “No, NO, NO” I said, my husband decided not to listen and agreed with my mother what a good idea it was. Of course years later I realized it was his way of getting rid of me in a way.
My mother/sister got their way and they moved in to our rather large house. They had their own rooms thank heavens so we would have some freedom. My mother would sell my Father’s house. Now Daddy had always stated that when he died the house would be left to my mother and on her death shared between my sister and myself.
Every month after I started work in September 1965 in London until I married in December 1975, my husband insisting I give up my job (just as I received promotion in my job) and stay at home – cooking/cleaning/washing etc etc just like my mother. Anyhow my Parents instructed me that every month I would hand over my salary in full to my Father he in turn would give me the money for my fare up to London for the month, some money for lunch and a little money to buy stockings, well before those awful things called “tights” or a dress, he had no idea the cost of girl’s clothes, my mother kept her mouth shut on that point. The money my Parents kept was to pay the mortgage on the house, there was not much outstanding and my money each month would help pay it. (When I married December 27, 1975, my Mother asked who was going to pay the £300 (about $340) outstanding on the mortgage, annoyed she would no longer have my money).
I would ask did my sister hand her salary over and my mother would tell me “its none of your business”, I don’t believe my sister ever paid a penny.
I was never consulted about the sale of my Father’s house or that my share should be handed to my sister, my husband would always say when I raised it with him “leave it, let it go” “let it go” idiot I did. My Parents always had a Will yet when I asked when Daddy died about his Will I was told he did not have one, I have always wondered “did he”.
This was my money that my sister had stolen, she had her half and now mine my mother had handed over my half without asking me. When they bought into our House they did not have enough, my husband lent my sister the balance she owed, he died never had that money returned and all these years later, Twenty Two Years, she has never paid it back. I am still stuck with her in the house, another long story, I have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with her, the house is larger enough I can avoid her. I am left with an absolute legal mess, my husband ignored our Solicitors advice “give Anna 60% her sister the balance”, David ignored him even though the Solicitor begged him to but David (under pressure from my mother) said “no, 50% each” and now I suffer or rather my Sons will suffer the consequences.
I was left something to remember my Father, my mother and sister did give me something he always had used. His Ashtray, yes his ashtray but not just an ordinary ashtray this one was a swivel ashtray. A reminder of Daddy and a reminder of all the cigarettes that he smoked and that gave him Lung Cancer. I still have the ashtray to this day. My sister got the house and I got an ashtray. When my mother died she took everything my mother had or dumped what she did not want. My sister gave me an opened box of fudge from Ireland that the Nun had given my mother one time she visited her. I asked for my mother’s Wedding ring and was told to ask the undertaker. The undertaker refused at first but I insisted, I received back two pieces of a Gold Band, such memories?
My Family, I used to think it was all normal, then I used to think I was living in a nightmare, then I believed I was going mad, but knew they were driving me that way. Then I used to “cut” if not my arms my wrists until one night when I phoned the “Samaritans” and I don’t know how long I was on the phone talking to this gentle voiced Gentleman, he talked me out of it and stayed listening and listening to me. I never “cut” again and I can never repay this wonderful man or thank “The Samaritans” enough.
We bring Children into this World and we can do so much damage to such fragile little beings. Animals are kinder.
This was my Family, this was my story, this is the truth and was my nightmare. I have always kept a Journal, I always love to write it has saved me, the encouragement from someone saved me. Two years ago I started Blogging and it has changed my life, it has given me strength.
This is my Father’s Ashtray, what I was given to remember Him by. Not my share of my Father’s House but an ashtray I do not want, but since 1978 I cannot throw away, deep down inside me its there whenever I pass the Buffet in my Dining room, the ashtray is inside the cupboard. Maybe one day I will dispose of it.