The day drags on, soon it will be time for time for bed.
. Iris continues her story, she has been very tearful as it all comes back to her, she has probably not spoken about those few days for years. Now, still so fresh in her mind, every moment is remembered.
“Our aunty Jessie came over in the evening and stayed for a few days, she was very helpful but a bit house proud, and never stopped cleaning the house. She had no children of her own, and I think she was shell-shocked when she tried to cope with our family. I was pleased when she finally had enough and went home”.
“Poor mum, she never got over letting Charlie go back to work too early, although what else could she have done, we had no money. Deirdre was also very badly affected by losing our lovely Dad, they were very close, for years she hardly smiled. She was utterly heart-broken, she was always the special one, she talked about the feeling she had yesterday, she kept saying she knew there was something wrong with Dad, he looked very sad and tired, and his hands were trembling so much he couldn’t do his shirt buttons up properly”.
Iris went on to talk about Deirdre.
” She was never the same happy girl, she kept saying that she knew something was going to happen that day. No matter how many times she was told that no one could have known, she could not shake it off. Even being happily married with three children and everything to live for, it finally got the better of her.She couldn’t help reliving the day we lost our dad, and she took her own life. She was just forty-seven”.
“The next morning the breakfast was hardly touched, we were all so quiet, with just a burst of sobbing from one, then all of us, a happy home destroyed in an instant, things would never be the same again. Our Grandad came over, he was a broken man, he had now lost four sons. A little boy in the first few weeks of his life and now three more in the last seven years.
The days that followed showed how a close neighbourhood will come together at these times. Even some people who lived just beyond the council houses brought toys and treats for the children and even food. Mrs. Salmon knew what she had to do; she had seen it all before during the war when a family was left without a father. Things had to be organised. The family were without any money, their meagre savings were long gone—the reason Charlie had cycled to work, probably knowing that he was not really well enough to do so.
“The workers at Charlies factory collected money and food parcels for us, and this money together with the help from our kind neighbours allowed us to survive for a few weeks. Although there was no Social Security as we know it today, there was a sort of ‘poor aid’, this was organised by the Church, the local shops, Doctors, and businesses”
“The cash was meted out by some of the fine ladies of the town. They were well-meaning women doing what they thought was best for our family. They had to arrange, that before any money from the poor aid was passed on, an inspection of the home and the finances of the family would be carried out—a sort of unofficial means test. Another thing the ladies would have to face, was to see if there was anything of value, that a family like ours would not really need, and that could be turned into cash for us”.
“The ladies, who were given this task, quickly picked out the items that they thought were a luxury. They ransacked the place, there is no other word for it. Dad was from a reasonably well-off family, and we had some nice bits and pieces, which had all been passed down to him. Plus, some furniture that he had made himself. He was also a clock repairer in his spare time and had some refurbished clocks ready for sale. Our Dad was a very industrious man and by his hard work, he had made our home quite comfortable”.
Iris paused for a minute, the thought of our mum having to watch all the nicest things that we owned, taken away and sold at auction still made her so angry.
“All that was left of anything valuable was a glass framed china cabinet, a medicine chest, and a dresser. These were all made by our dad from the mahogany that was not good enough for propellers and was sold to anyone who wanted it for a few shillings. Even the clocks were taken and sold, but not the big picture or Charlies new lathe—Mum, insisted on keeping them. The money that this raised was pitiful, it hardly lasted a few weeks. The only ‘finances’ to be counted was the money that had been collected for Mum, but this was all considered.”
“The neighbours were so good to us. Mrs. Wade, who was Mum’s very good friend—they were both midwife’s and had helped deliver each other’s children. They were even God mothers to one of each other’s boys. Mum was Harold’s Godmother and Mrs Wade was Donald’s. There she was once more with a bowl of eggs—she always had a few eggs for us. Mrs. Salmon came round with you and Donald, both still unaware of what has happened, but were wondering why all the tears. She fell into the chair as she always did, we all giggled as she nearly fell out of it, the chair is very wobbly, it was the only laugh that we would have today”.