It all started 100 years ago … part 3

I’ll go back to the story of Sheila’s mother Carol, who moved to the States nearly 100 years ago, another time – it’s time I came up to date, I think. The story of the Freston Wests and Aunts Annie and Katie is one that Russell used to talk to me about, but I’ve forgotten a lot of details and will have to check them out.

Up to date is a relative term – Russell and I married in 1973 and honeymooned in the Seychelles but, once we had children, our travelling was curtailed, especially once we had a dog too. But we did plan to travel, preferably leaving the children with grandparents. Russell especially wanted to visit the Caribbean – he had his sights set on Trinidad and Tobago and also on Saint Lucia. We went some way towards planning the first trip and I can’t remember why it was never booked. But it wasn’t and we didn’t really have many holidays at all.

It became more complicated once we moved here, to this house, because there were more things to take into account. Kenny came daily to look after the garden, but there were also my greenhouses and Russell’s bantams. Then there was the dog and my mother and the house, all of which needed company and looking after. We managed one family trip to France and a few British visits, but it all became complicated, especially as I was very busy with a lot of demanding voluntary work. The auction business was easier to leave.

In the past few years, I’ve become gradually more aghast at my mother’s attitude. She used to live alone in previous houses and had felt perfectly safe and comfortable, but she utterly refused to let us go away unless we organised people to stay here in the house. She said she was afraid of there being a big, empty house next door. I don’t believe that’s true, now, I think she just wanted the control and, I’m sorry to say, she was being a killjoy. Russell and I were both too patient and too reasonable and let her get away with it. We were both inclined to put others first. Now, I don’t want to be selfish but I want to do what I want to do, while I still can and encourage my family to do the same.

As I said in part 1, we were going to go to New Orleans in March 2003 but, just as we were going to book it, the autumn before, my mother’s terminal cancer was diagnosed and we shelved the matter. A few months after the diagnosis, she remembered about the proposed trip and asked me. I said, of course with her health being uncertain, we were not going and she said, oh, that wasn’t because of me, though. I said, yes it was. She was extremely ill at the time and there was no possibility of making plans and it didn’t matter. Of course she came first. No, she denied it, she was angry. It was not because of her that we’d cancelled the plans. Even then, she both wanted the control and to deny it. I’m so sorry that I have rather a lot of negative memories of someone who had so many lovely qualities too.

But there it is. A year or two later, I proposed the trip again and Russell flatly refused to go. At the time, Al and family lived in the annexe and Ro was here at home in the holidays from university – and he lived here for a couple of years afterwards too, as he worked half an hour’s drive away. But Russell wouldn’t leave the house and we never did have another holiday together, to my great sadness. After trying to persuade him to go fairly short distances in this country, I finally suggested that I holiday with others or alone and, though he was surprised, he could do nothing but agree with good grace.

When Tim and I got together, he also talked about the Caribbean, having had a couple of holidays with his brother and sister in law, after his wife died. But sadly, lockdown put paid to that and all we managed was a trip to Corfu and one to Jersey.

So, to come to the point, I’m off to St Lucia in a fortnight’s time. Rhonda is flying there from Atlanta and we’ll have a couple of weeks together. We’re talking about visiting New Orleans next year – Victoria will be 21 by then and legally able to drink. I’ve never really had totally relaxing holidays, apart from a week in Kerala recovering from a fabulous Indian wedding in Chennai, so it’ll be a fabulous novelty.

2 comments on “It all started 100 years ago … part 3

  1. 63mago

    “Santa Lucia” always evoked images of girls with candles on their heads, now I learn that it is a Caribbean island too. So, Hail Mary, and a boddle of Rum, ha !

    1. Z Post author

      Pronounced Saint Loosha, neither Luchia nor Lusia. I checked with Rose, who’s from Trinidad and knows these things!


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