Who is the Bitch?

by Karen J Mossman

 

Yes, that really is the title of my post, and for a reason. I didn’t know what meant or why.

Let me explain. I keep a diary and have done for many years. I’m on my fourth five-year diary now. The first yearly diary I was given in 1973, I just wrote whose birthday it was and occasionally that we went out somewhere. I was fourteen.

My Nana gave me this. Nana was a lovely lady but always a little eccentric. She often did odd things, and Mum told me that Nana’s mother was just the same. Nana got worse as she got older with many peculiar incidents. In her seventies, she began to show signs of dementia. By her eighties, she was just a shell.

In the diary, there was one entry, just one. At first I thought it was something she had written for herself before deciding to give it to. Years later I began to realise she had written it especially for me, as if to tell me something.

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Aunty Bitch Rutter’s birthday, send 1 oz of poison. If she had written it for herself, she wouldn’t have put aunty. She never referred to it, either.

Aunty Kath was Nana’s sister.  I remembered going to her house, then we stopped going. That’s because she and Nana fell out. They didn’t talk again for seventeen years. When they did, I was grown up. She was lovely, as was her husband. She was kind and so like Nana in looks and ways it often made me laugh. I was very sad about all the years we’d lost. I’ve no idea what could have been so bad as to fall out for that long.

Families can be funny things, and have strange dynamics that sometimes makes it difficult. Maybe it runs in the family because in 2010, I fell out with my brother and we have never spoken since. It’s sad because I don’t think there is any going back.

Has there been something like this in your family? Did it every get resolved?

 

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.

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This was mum in 1977, doing what she loved.