The Day I Found a Dead Body

by Karen J Mossman

My mother was fearless. She had a strong sense of injustice. If something was wrong, she would put it right, or put people right.

One day I remember her telling how she was walking passed the park when she heard a crowd chanting. She went in to find a lot boys gathered encircling two who were fighting. Immediately, she pushed through them and told them to stop, and go home, all of them, right now. I admired her even then, as they dispersed with a few grumbles. This was back in the seventies, a very different time.

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I was in my late teens when I found the body walking to work. I wasn’t very far from home as I passed by some bushes. At the corner of my eye, I caught sight of some rags. When I looked properly, I saw it was the body of a body of a man; dirty and bedraggled with matted hair. In my mind he looked like he had been there a long time. I froze as I stared. I wanted to prod him, just in case, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch him. I ran back home, “Mum, mum, mum!”

She walked back with me, my brave mother. I knew she would know what to do, who to call, and I suppose, check he was actually dead, because I didn’t know for certain.

Leaning over the body, she prodded him with her finger, “Are you all right?” To my complete surprise, the man woke up.

“Oh aye,” he said, “I’m fine, just having a kip.” I realised then that he stunk of booze.

I wish I could have been like her, she was always so sure of herself and was good at getting the best out of people. She was a foster parent, and Social Services would ring up and say they had a child who was disruptive and naughty and couldn’t place them. They would not sleep at night either. Mum would say, pass them over, and with a short space of time that child was going to bed at seven pm every night, and although never perfect, they fitted into the household as any child would.

She always believed that children need a routine, need love, and believe they are important. She always gave them that, as she did us.

She passed away in 2010, her seventy fifth year and up to two weeks before was still fostering.

1977

This was mum in 1977, doing what she loved.

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