As part of my new Let me be your voice chronicles, here is the second part of the testimony I recieved from one of you Lovelies…
Here is the first part, if you’d like to read it; Part 1
If you too have any untold story you’d like to write about, but are uncomfortable publishing on your own blog, just send it to me through my “Get in touch with Cyranny” page… It will be a pleasure for me to post it in the Cove anonymously… So you can see the eventual response your story brings from readers…
But unfortunately that victory didn’t carry me very far forward. My head injury and consequential brain damage – I lost 8% use of my brain – messed with my memory capacity, and made me even less sure of myself than I had been before. Gone was the false bravado and sophistication that had afflicted me in the months before the car crash. Now I was an introverted cynic. My slow mental and psychological recovery meant that I didn’t go back to university for another two years. I basically vegetated at home. Reading but not writing, I didn’t have any confidence in my ability to write anything that anyone would want to read.
I was 21 when I met Andrew, the love of my life. He was 8 years older than me, Irish, ex British SAS and working as a photographer when I met him, which was at my sister’s wedding where he was the photographer. I thought he was nice and took lots of looks at him but thought he was well out of my league – tall, lean and athletically muscular, black haired and green eyed.
He didn’t seem to take particular notice of me and my sister told me that he had a girl-friend. Andrew was the brother of one of my sister’s new husband’s friends. So I cast (or tried to) him from my thoughts.
Then, just five months later, I met him again at my cousin’s wedding where he was the photographer again. This time I could see that I had caught his attention to some degree. He seemed aware of my presence anyway. But it wasn’t until the bride and groom had left the reception and the wedding was winding down, that he came up to the table I was sharing with my parents, and asked me to dance. We danced and chatted and then he said goodnight and went home. I went home with my parents. I was disappointed because he had not mentioned wanting to see me again or even asked for my phone number.
Three weeks later on a Friday night he phoned and asked me to go out to lunch with him the following day. He had got my phone number off my sister. I went out to lunch with him and so our seven and a half year relationship began.
They were undoubtedly the best years of my life since my childhood. He was fun, kind, intelligent and above all very easy to talk to about any subject under the sun. We shared a love of the bush and wildlife and went on frequent trips to game reserves where he took excellent photos. He had been honest with me from the start as well, telling me that he was not interested in getting married and having kids, and to be quite honest, those things didn’t appeal to me either. I was in love with him and didn’t need marriage or children to make my life better or more complete. He got on very well with my parents and they loved him like a son and never once mentioned marriage or the possibility of grandchildren to me.
Then when I was twenty-nine and a half and had been living with Andrew for seven years, happy and content, my mother was diagnosed with a malignant, inoperative brain tumour and given about nine to twelve months to live. She was fifty-three years old. She became paralyzed and I left the flat I shared with Andrew to go back home to spend more time with my mom and help my dad take care of her. Andrew visited my mom at home and at the hospice where she died five months after her brain tumour was first found, and was devastated, as we all were by her death. But he had found another girlfriend and moved on from me by the time my mother died.
Losing my mom, and Andrew, and my dad deciding to go back to England to stay with his old mother and be close to my mom who had chosen to be buried in England; almost finished me off as well.
I couldn’t sleep or eat and found it very difficult to face the reality that I was completely alone in the house that I had grown up in and loved. Memories surrounded me. In the months after my mom’s death, they were mainly memories of her being so ill and unable to walk, talk or eat.
My sister and brother-in-law only lived a few kilometres away and I used to go round to their house in the afternoon and take their dogs for a walk with my sister. I didn’t have any friends of my own. All my friends had also been Andrew’s and they felt awkward about him and I not being together anymore and reacted to that awkwardness by avoiding me.
Anyway, about a month after our mom’s death, my sister informed me out of the blue, that she and her husband had been discussing my frequent visits and decided that I shouldn’t visit them so often as it was making them depressed. My sister also told me that since I was about eleven years old she hadn’t liked me because I was a horrible, selfish child and she had been embarrassed at having me as a sister. She also said that as far as her and her husband were concerned, it was my selfish, thoughtless behaviour that had been the main cause of our mother developing a brain tumour and my father returning to England. I was speechless and just left. But that night I sat up and thought about it as much as I could. Unfortunately my head and brain injury had left me with only indistinct memories of my late teenage years but I did remember enough to realise that I had often done the exact opposite of what my parents had wanted and advised. I had always thought that I knew better than they did about what was good for me and I had frequently been very wrong.
What I hadn’t considered was how what I did affected them. Maybe my sister and her husband were right and my thoughtless and self-serving acts had caused them so much stress my mom had become terminally ill and my father couldn’t live with me so had returned to England.
I had absolutely no one to talk to so I went to my GP and told him that I was very unhappy and depressed about my mom’s death. He prescribed strong anti-depressants, which I took and they did help in that they numbed my thought processes. I went back to teaching high school History and English, came home, ate and slept and carried on living in a kind of mechanical mindless state.
Then 18 months later my dad phoned from England and asked me if I would mind if the son of a friend of his in England came over and stayed at the house (my mom and dad’s house) for a week or so as he was keen on visiting South Africa on holiday. I really didn’t fancy the idea of a strange man in the house but it was my dad’s house and I knew he was worried about me being so alone all the time. So I said ‘yeah, it would be fine.’
A couple of weeks later I picked John up from the airport. He was tall, well-built, a swimmer and apart from his uneven, discoloured front teeth, not a bad looking guy. It turns out he was just out of a long-term relationship and it seems, on the rebound. After a week he asked me to marry him and I was so surprised and downright desperate and lonely, that I said ‘yes’.
My sister and her husband were horrified when I told them and rightly so. But nothing could dissuade me. I was nearly 32, completely alone and as I said ‘desperate’ for someone to want me.
To be continued…