I didn't know what to expect when I met my former Foster Mother after so long. I certainly didn't expect that she would remember as much about those two years we shared as she seemed to. I also thought that she would only want to talk about the good parts of our time together and all the things where there had been problems would be ignored. Well I was wrong and it serves me right for being such a pessimist!
Almost the first thing she told me was how sad she was that my time living with her "hadn't worked out" and that "Those two years nearly destroyed my marriage.". She told me that her husband had never been keen on fostering and that he had only gone along with it to stop her nagging and because it brought some extra money into the household. He was a proud and stubborn man who was, just about, prepared to accept the income from having a foster child but certainly didn't want any of the expenditure.
He valued his privacy and hated having what he saw as a stranger living in his house. It was never personal - he didn't particularly dislike me and she thinks that it would have been the same whoever it had been. It wasn't my fault.
She could remember my first few days really well and it was good for me to hear a different perspective on that difficult time. I had arrived in the late afternoon not knowing that my foster Mum and Dad had had a furious row that morning about me coming to live with them that had ended with him storming off to work leaving her in tears.
When the Social Worker drove off after doing the introductions it was all very difficult. I didn't know what the house rules were or even what I was to call my Foster Parents. After tea I helped wash up like I always used to do when I was living with my Mum but then I had no idea what I was supposed to do. The two of them sat in the lounge watching the TV and I didn't know if I was allowed to go in to sit with them or not and anyway if I was allowed to go in where would I sit? There wasn't a spare chair and I didn't want to sit on the floor like a dog would. I went upstairs and read a book in my bedroom feeling rather lonely and abandoned. All the time I was sitting there my foster Mother and Father were having another row downstairs with him saying again and again that it was bad enough I was living in his house without having to share his lounge with me. Perhaps it was a good thing that I didn't know what was going on!
I think we were both upset, even after so many years, walking about those times back in the late 1960s. Now I am old (60+) I can look at things in a different way to the way I did when I was just 14. But even now I don't understand how I came to be placed with a couple with one of the pair totally against the whole idea of fostering! It was almost bound to end up badly and of course that is exactly what did happen. It would have been useful to hear my foster Dad's memories but he died in 2009 without ever talking about me to his wife.
More next time - when my Foster Mum and I talked about the middle 18 months of the two years I lived with her in St Albans.