Sunday, 18 October 2015

Death and the foster child

I ended up in foster care because my Father died when I was little and then a while later my Mother got too ill to look after me. I'm guessing a bit here but I wonder if what happened to me also happened to quite a few children who ended up in foster care because a parent or parents died and there was nobody left in the family prepared to look after them. I wondered at the time why my Father's parents never offered me a home but perhaps they thought they were too old to take on the responsibility?

I don't remember my Father dying but of course I do remember getting a phone message from the hospital to say that my Mother had died. That was in 1977 so she had lived in the hospital for about 8 years. She had long since forgotten who I was and I think that made it easier for me not to mourn too much. I didn't, and still don't, believe in Heaven and Hell like some people do but I would like to think that Mother would have been made well again and that she would have been reunited with my Father.

Perhaps they are waiting somewhere for me to join them?

In 1977 I was still living with Mrs H and I was engaged to Jane. It was a happy time for me and I didn't let my Mother dying spoil things too much. It was far, far worse when Mrs H died in her sleep. That was nearly a decade later. I had stayed in touch with Mrs H all that time and I thought of her as the closest thing I had to a proper Mother. When she died it was one of the very few times I cried as a grown-up.

It was over 20 years more to the biggest shock of all when my dear wife Jane died from heart disease. The last year or two of her life had been very difficult. She kept working almost to the end and I don't think her employer ever realised how poorly Jane was. Jane had been my anchor. I hadn't got any family ties of my own so as far as possible Jane's family became my family.

When Jane died her family kept in touch quite well for the first few months but gradually the number of invitations I got to family event went down. What they didn't do enough of was actually helping me with all the jobs that needed to be completed when somebody dies.

It was a lonely and sad time for me and it was only having young people around me at the school where I worked that gave me the kick to get up in the morning and to put a brave face on things. Not having children of my own to share the sadness of Jane dying was a heavy burden to carry!

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