This morning having stripped my bed and endeavouring to put the new duvet cover on somehow made me think back to the time when my Husband Died. To all those who have had to go through the Death of a loved Husband or Wife, will know exactly what it is like, know the pain that lasts even though in time we learn to accept what has happened the love we had for our loved one never goes away, or that feeling of “I wish he was now”.
As for all, the Death of my Husband, David, back in 1994 was a very difficult time for our Sons and myself. Yes I accept that for everyone its a difficult time, but I can only speak from my own experience. That last year with David I saw the change in him but didn’t want to see it. That September we went back to Ireland for our holiday, we spent half in Kinsale and the other half in our lovely Killarney. In Kinsale we rented a very nice small house and in Killarney we rented a really beautiful Bungalow complete with Tennis Court, which the Boys loved to play Tennis with their Father. I cry as I recall the fun they had and I can still hear the laughter of the Boys trying to get the ball back to David, and David laughing as he beat them.
Little did I know that three short months later David would be Dead, I would be a Widow at 45 my Sons aged 15 and 10 would have a lot of difficulties and trauma ahead for them, which I tried to protect them from, not always successfully. Those two weeks were so important full of memories and at last full of the truth. Having to tolerate my mother and sister in our house had destroyed our Marriage their constant interference, rows, gossiping outside the house it drove a wedge between David and myself. He blamed me for a lot of it, I was hurt so deeply that he didn’t see the truth, that he didn’t defend me. It took one evening in the house in Kinsale and in the kitchen, the Boys tucked up in bed, when David took me aside and apologised for all the times he did not believe me all the times he took my mother/sister’s side he told me he knew the truth now and that he was so sorry – suddenly we were close again.
When we moved onto Killarney it was so good, when David drove us to The Gap of Dunloe he only walked part of it, as the Boys myself walked on singing and laughing all the way. I remember the three of us singing so loudly “Its a long way to Tipperary” and “Pack up your Troubles in your kit bag”, Jonathan making me cry with laughter as he mimicked Prince Charles, Jonathan was brilliant and my youngest who was (and still is) one tough little guy was coming out with so much I was crying as I was laughing. It was lovely as we went along singing and suddenly turned a corner and came face to face with a German Family who bowed and curtsied to us for our singing – great moment I shall always remember.
As ever the four of us dreaded going home, because whenever we went on holiday and returned home, you could guarantee that within a day my mother would start an argument, punishment for us going away. Whatever gifts we would buy for them, it was never good enough for my mother, she would be rude about. Even the finest Irish Linen for example was not good enough it would never be used or more likely she would give it away. As the car would approach our Town the Children would be crying, I was at it too and David uptight. Always telling my mother not to have a meal ready for us as David could not eat after a long car journey and that we would stop somewhere and the Children would have a meal. She would have a meal ready and when none of us really wanted it, that would cause trouble. Welcome Home!!
By the end of September David was looking very unwell, he never wanted to go to the Doctor but I told him he had to. Every week David saw the Doctor, not much happened, until one afternoon when we went to the Doctor’s and as David walked through the door of the Doctor’s room David started sliding to the floor. I recall right now the Doctor’s words “my dear old chap you are not at all well”, what? I knew that. David was finally sent for X-Rays and as he was dressing to return home, he was asked to undress again they wanted to take more X-Rays, I knew instantly it was Cancer, my guts told me that.
That evening at Dinner that I always cooked and that all of us sat around the table, not once did my mother or sister ask how David had got on, knowing he had been to the Hospital, for over a week those two bitches never ever asked David how he was or was everything alright. My mother my sister, evil beyond belief. The weeks went on and David deteriorated, taken into Colchester Hospital for a week, where they did nothing just told lies to us, the arrogant Consultant, lied his head off to David to me “collapsed lung” thats all he said to us, to me. I told David I was taking him home and I told the Staff I was removing my Husband, I would Nurse him.
David came home and I nursed him, the Doctor arranged for a Nurse to come over, she lasted less than half an hour, she walked into the bathroom David in the bath, he told her to get out, she called him rude and I told her “why did you not knock, he maybe ill he’s entitled to his dignity” she left and I told the Doctor I wanted no one. I did everything I could everything I was supposed to. It wasn’t easy, it never is, is it. Although David had never been a big built man now he was so heavy and I wouldn’t let anyone touch him, only me.
Early hours of one morning he wanted Ice Cream, which he never touched, I said I would go down and get him some, but he insisted on going downstairs, so I helped him down. We sat in the kitchen as I fed him ice cream and he talked of his school days, of his time growing up on the Isle of Dogs and his wealthy Grandfather who was from Salonika, Greece and how as a young boy he would be summoned every Saturday to go to his Grandfather’s large house (his Grandfather whose surname was Apostilidies) owned a business that manufactured handmade Cigars. His youngest Daughter defied her father and went out with one named David Cottage who worked on the Docks as a Riveter and was poor, well she became pregnant and that was that. His Grandfather would help his Daughter a little but had nothing to do with her husband. The sisters and Brothers all married well and prospered as my Husband’s mother struggled. Suddenly David held my hands and asked “why do you love so much” that broke me, still does.
I couldn’t tell the Children that their Daddy was about to die, because I din’t know, no Doctor told me the truth, though deep down I knew but not when. I would soon find out, and how because I insisted on knowing the truth.
That day came when on the evening of December 11, 1994 the Doctor had come as usual to see David and as he was leaving I stopped him in the Hall and asked him “what do you know you are not telling me”, I swear he had tears in his eyes, the Doctor did have an awful lot of respect for David, he looked at me and told me “I don’t know how to tell you Anna” I fell towards the wall and said “he’s going to die” the Doctor just nodded and all I could think of was it would be our youngest Son’s Birthday on December 19, “David will be here for our youngest Birthday on the 19 won’t he”, the Doctor shook his head “I would like to think so Anna, but I don’t think so” suddenly it was as though I had been stabbed right through my heart, lumps in my throat and my Boys “I have to tell the Boys”.
When the Doctor left, now my mother and sister wanted to know when was David going to die. The day David Died and the Doctor came over to sign the Death Certificate he spoke after when I thanked him for all he done, my mother was there and she turned to the Doctor so smarmy as she was, and asked “whose going to do all the work on the house now David’s dead, Doctor” – the Doctor looked at me looked at mother I had never seen him so annoyed so disgusted “I don’t know Mrs Morrissey I think Anna and the Boys have more to worry about don’t you”.
David did not last until December 19, David Died around 7am December 15, he died in his home in our bed in my arms, with his beloved Boys hiding his hands, when I told the Boys Daddy’s gone, he’s in Heaven now, Jonathan 15 ran from the bedroom to his bedroom crying so hard, the youngest sat on my lap stoic always a tough little boy always full of laughter full of playing around he is a Cottage alright. My mother and sister were present too and only my sister left the room after Jonathan my mother remained – not even allowing the Boys or myself time alone with David. The Priest came and the rest I don’t remember.
Except this, I was alone with David and combing his hair, at the back he had little curls and on the front that he swept sideways. I cut a little piece off and wrapped in a handkerchief. Suddenly the door opened in walked two men I had no idea who they were when I asked “who are you”, “we’ve come to collect your Father” as David was nearly thirty years older than me, all I said was “he’s my husband” I asked who called them “Mrs Cottage” they said, I was shocked and knew that bitch of a sister of mine had done it, I told them “I’m Mrs Cottage, I didn’t ring you”. Weeks later I asked the Funeral Directors, Women, I would never have chosen them they would have been the last ones and I proved myself right) to see who rang them they showed me Mrs Cottage, I told them I was Mrs Cottage and I never rang them my sister did without my permission.
When David was removed to the Undertakers my mother insisted we go and visit every day, I said NO I only wanted to go once, I remember being forced to go to see my Father and it was horrendous. Besides its not what David would have wanted, I asked the Boys did they want to see “Daddy”, Jonathan said “no” and I told that was fine he did not have to go, our youngest wanted to go, so I let. My mother caused trouble and told Jonathan he should be ashamed of himself, I told her to “STOP”. The day came to see David, it was not him, he was not there, just the case he was in, his Soul had departed that moment of Death, I knew where he was. I held my young one’s hand and he looked and said he wanted to go, as we went to leave my mother took hold of my Son and pushed his head down towards his Father my young one ran from the room crying. My bloody mother she could not stop causing trouble. As for my sister she wouldn’t go. My mother never let up on Jonathan for not going.
The Priest arranged for David’s Funeral December 23, otherwise it would have to be second/third week of January 1995, that would have been unbearable for the Boys and myself he told me. The Funeral Mass was December 23 followed by a Cremation, on David’s Coffin I had the magnificent Wreath from David’s Masonic Lodge in London that he belonged to, my mother wanted it removed because it was in Masonic colours and it would be in the Church, she even complained to the Priest who told me “its a beautiful gesture Anna, David was as good a man as I have ever met”. The Members of the Lodge who travelled such a long way to the Funeral told me when they came back to our House that the Lodge Wreath on the Coffin meant so much to them, I told them it would be the last thing I could do for David. All the flowers, especially the Masonic flowers were taken to the Church and the Priest had the Blue and White Wreath from the Lodge placed on the steps of Our Lady’s Altar, that really p….d my mother off. With my mother making her views known at the Crematorium and afterwards that David should not have been Cremated, Catholics don’t do that according to her, she pressured David to become a Catholic prior to his Death, so wrong. Well Karma, my sister without asking me arranged a Cremation for our Mother, my mother is still not at peace, the double Grave she paid for where my Father was and where she longed to be, her part is still empty. I don’t know what my sister has done with my mother’s ashes.
December for us, maybe the Boys have well got over what happened or maybe they are hiding their feelings, but for me December is a very difficult month now. David’s Death the 15th, our youngest Son’s Birthday the 19th, our Wedding Anniversary December 27th. To this day my youngest Son hates his Birthday, he never wants a fuss “its just another day” he says.
When we have a loved Husband/Wife Die we tend to not see all the bad times, if there were any, we tend to make them Saints I know I did for 16 years I grieved for my Husband. Deep down I still Love David, I knew him from age 16 how could I not, but now I also admit the bad times the backhander he gave me as I held our first born Son in my arms aged 14 months, and why because we missed the ship for Ireland that holiday. The kitchen chair he went to smash over my head as I was filling the washing machine, I looked up screamed. The rows, the too many times he never defended me, but I can cope with all of that, what hurt the most was when the suspicions I had about David and a woman nearby, a “friend”, well she said a little too much to me one day. That moment I stopped grieving. I was always honest and loyal to David, I am still loyal. Even weeks after David died and my mother told me one day over coffee “no man is coming into this house again, I had none after your father, you don’t need any”, even if I did there was little likelihood it would happen. Life was going to be tough after David, what with running this large house/gardens on my own and no one to talk to when the Boys went to bed. Life was to become much tougher than I ever imagined.
“Pain is the price we pay for Loving someone”
The Gap of Dunloe, Killarney –
David would always play this in the car as we travelled on holiday to Cornwall or Ireland, with our Boys in the back laughing. Memories and tears.