Switched on the news this morning and was reminded that it has been six years since the July 7th bombings in London. It is always sad when something like that happens and lives are lost, particularly when those lives were given up by people going about their ordinary daily and probably hum drum lives, running late to work, going home from work, thinking about their loved ones and what the day was likely to bring for them, only to have it end so suddenly and abruptly, and for what, did it achieve what the terrorists wanted? No, not really! It disrupted our lives for a while, whether it was because we lost a friend or a family member or because we lost time in continually following the news coverage of this damnable event, but in real terms, it did not achieve very much else!
These flashbacks made me recall also that I, along with my brothers and sister, also lost someone on this date, 23 years ago today our MUM died. She was only 66, but 23 years ago that seemed old in regard to 66 year old's of today. Much is being said today in the UK about retirement age and the brouhaha being created by the need to extend the age of retirement for both men and women for lack of money to pay pensions, well it was only 23 years ago that MUM died at age 66 and to be honest I can not really recall if she was working at the time. Sure, I know she wasn't working for a couple of months before her death as she was in and out of hospital with angina and other ailments, a life long smoker and one of the hardest working people I have ever met in my life.
My earliest memories of our MUM were of her ALWAYS working and not just in one job, in a variety of jobs at the same time, Bar Manager in one bar, barmaid in another, cleaner in bars and offices, all at the same time. We were, as I recall, a part time one parent family, by that I mean that our dad was there sometimes and not at other times, and the times he wasn't there, for me at least, were better than the times that he was. So, in the 60's when I was growing up, it was MUM and the rest of us, Billy our eldest brother had left home, no idea where he went, although I do know it wasn't prison, and he was still gone when I left to join the Army in 71, or boys service as it then was, when I was fifteen. Bobby, 2nd eldest had also left to join the Marines, and Jim, No 3 was looking to go. looking back there was plenty of reasons for this, apart from the fact that there were 6 of us, plus MUM, the space for one thing, three bedrooms... and of course Coatbridge where I grew up was a large industrial town full of metal and other manufacturing works, but as I grew up in the late 60's and on into the early 70's all of theses places were closing down and thousands and thousands were being put on the dole.
|Mum, dressed for work as a waitress in a Reo Stakis restaurant , lates 60's I think|
Growing up and watching our MUM holding down all these jobs had probably instilled a work ethic in all of us that we did not realise or appreciate at the time, and this is why now, I realise probably more than anything, was the cause of all the moving out by the big brothers, and it was for this reason that they left, in the main, to find work.
|Mum, at Shorncliffe for my passing out parade|
I left when I was 15 in 71 and joined the Army 5 years later I got married, and two years later Ishbel and I presented MUM with her first grandchild Marie. In 1980 we were in Germany and our son Brian was born and we brought MUM out to visit and see the new addition. It was her very first trip abroad and she loved it. In fact I remember she went for a walk in the small town we lived in and I offered to accompany her and she said she would be fine, this was long long before the advent of mobiles, so contact was by letter or telephone call, but being in married army quarters in Germany, I don't think I knew any junior rank who had a phone in their quarters. Anyway, off she went and time passed, and passed and passed and I was beginning to get worried and eventually Ishbel said, 'go and see if you can find her'.
|MUM 2nd from left at our weddiing in 76. Big Bro Bill on right with Ishbels' mum and dad|
I set off, worried and slightly panicking. Here I was bringing my MUM out to Germany, she had never been out of the country and couldn't speak a word of German and I LET HER GO FOR A WALK ON HER OWN!!!!! Anyway, long story short, I eventually did find her. 'Street cafe' life was, as now, a part of European culture, and there was MUM sitting under an umbrella out side a bar, having a drink with a local German, laughing and gesticulating as two people do with no common language. While being relieved at finding her I was a little bit perturbed at the scene, don't ask, don't know why. Anyway when I finally managed to extract her, spoilsport I know, but it was my MUM, I asked what on earth she thought she was doing, and she turned to me and said, 'what's the problem, I was having a good time and we "clicked" ', as she raised her hand and snapped her fingers, I was speechless, but that was MUM.
Moving on, I left the Army in 81 and we settled in Inverness and we would visit MUM in Coatbridge, not as often as we could, money, as usual, and she would visit us, at least no passports and language wasn't a problem, so that was one less thing to worry about.... In 84 we presented Jennifer number 3 and our last child and again Nana couldn't wait to see her and was straight up on the next available train. The next 12 years we were back and forth as she was to us and we really enjoyed the visits. I rember after one visit when we had taken her to a local hotel, The Drumossie, as I recall which was situated just outside Inverness to the South on the old A9 road, which is a long steep roll down into Inverness. We had gone to a Ceilidh [Scottish dance for the uninitiated] and a meal. A few weeks later MUM phoned in a panic, she had just opened the Sunday Mail [Scottish newspaper] who were running the story of the people trapped in the Drumossie hotel due to snow storms. Realising that we were probably not at the hotel but none the less, worried about how we were managing with all that snow, we only lived about 2 miles from the hotel, so it was a justifiable worry I suppose. I then had to explain to MUM that we were fine, clear blue sky and green grass in the garden..... Inverness if you don't know has a little peculiarity in that it lies in a bit of a bowl and while it does get it's fair share of inclement weather and snow, it has been known for the the surrounding environs to be completely blitzed by snow, but the town itself can be completely missed, as we were on that occasion. Bless, always thinking about us.
As I get older, and I look at my grand children, I sometimes think, 'I wish MUM was here to see them. Not just ours, But Bobby, Jim, Lillian, brothers and sisters who also have had children and grandchildren and NANA isn't around to see them. I also have regrets about things not said, that should have been said.
I can't actually remember telling my MUM that I loved her or appreciated her. I appreciated that she worked her fingers to the bone with all her different jobs, just so that we could eat, and that rent, and gas and electricity were paid. I appreciate now as I didn't then because I didn't understand, the times I stood in the Provi office while she took out another loan to keep us fed and clothed. I appreciate now that she was always there, travelling down to Shorncliffe for my passing out parade, travelling down to Aldershot for my marriage. I was young and I was Scottish and I was a 'man' and we didn't say, 'I love you MUM. And I didn't appreciate and never offered, because I didn't think, all these visits cost a lot more in money then than they would today, and she was always skint, and I never appreciated it.
Well, 23 years later I do appreciate it, and I have absolutely no problem in saying MUM I loved you and I am sorry if I and others didn't show it and I wish you were still around so I could tell you today!
Love You Mum
Agnes Stronach nee Wedlock
1922 - 1988
More photos of MUM
|Mum Fag in hand 1973|
|MUM and Trudy|
|Mum and Marie and Ishbel 1978|
|Mum and Marie 1978|
|MUM and Marie 1978|