The first night during our voyage to NY via SS France I couldn’t sleep and Mummy knew it. She never told me that she had written a letter to me, about my birth, my sisters and our travels. She read it to me that night and years later gave it to me. This was important in my voyage and probably to calm me and make me smile.
It was titled Memories:
“I was so happy the day I knew I was pregnant with you, I always wanted to be a Mother, and yes I was nervous wondering how it be but the joy overcame that. Several days before the predicted date I had false labor pains, how was I to know this wasn’t the real thing! After staying in the hospital over night I came home to the European Missionary Society House where Daddy and I were spending time in preparation to go to France.
Again I went to the hospital after having spent some time being sick. During this time my water broke and whether in real labor or not I had to stay. Don’t laughter but I hid in the closet one night having listened to women screaming all around me, I became so scared informing the nurse I couldn’t go through with this and I was going home!! She informed me this was one thing I couldn’t run away from.
My labor was, long, hard, and painful. After 36 hours you, my precious daughter, arrived in the world. Even though I didn’t physically feel good I was elated at the first look at my precious baby girl, you were the image of your Daddy when he was a baby, right down to the frown.
A large part of your early days were spent on the road traveling, the car always kept you sleeping. One time we stayed at a hotel that friends owned and managed, they needed a vacation because of their sick daughter so your Daddy and I took it over for a while. We were busy with the guests so I was concerned about leaving you in your pram but I didn’t need to worry, their faithful boxer dog sat dutifully by your side not allowing anyone to come near you. The best babysitter we ever had.
You were the pride and joy of your grandparents. Nana and Grandad Smith bragged all the time about how beautiful you were and as you grew older, how smart you were. The only thing Grandad didn’t like were the sticky marks on the furniture left by your tiny hands. When you were small we spent some time at Nana Waters home, you cried a lot, Grandad Waters said I was starving you. After a visit to the clinic for a checkup I discovered he was correct you were not putting on weight, but the formula they gave me worked wonders, no more up at night with you crying, the weight started to build up and you were a plump happy little girl.
You should have seen us when we moved from England to Ireland. There we were at the railroad station, one large English pram, all the baby paraphernalia, suitcases, etc; trying to get all of this and you into the compartment of the train was quite an ordeal, from the train to the boat was another story. Crossing the Irish Sea can only be described as yuk! You kept our spirits up and were the center of attention.
We were very happy in our new home in Armagh, North Ireland, there was a constant stream of company from England which we toured with to the South of Ireland. Thatched roof cottages, peat bogs, beautiful Catholic Churches, lots of poor but seemingly happy children. The ocean had such clear blue water, always windy and cold, but breathtakingly lovely. Do you remember the pony rides? You were so young but talking with you was like having another grown up around, your vocabulary and dictation were very clear, probably because you and I spent so much time together. We chatted constantly every day no matter what the weather, it always rained in Ireland. We went to the park for a swing, if we did stay home I would read to you, I tried to hurry through the story and skip a page or two, especially before bedtime. You always knew this, smart little kid and I couldn’t get away much with you, you were always a step ahead.
Remember the time you stayed at the farm with 3 boys and their Mum and Dad? This was during the time I went into the hospital to have your sister, you insisted on calling the lady Mum, even though she kept telling you she wasn’t?! You went with the boys to feed the animals right in the midst of the mud with the pigs. You had thick straight, blond hair, the lady out it into braids, stiching out each side just like Pippy Long Stocking. You were having the time of your life and quickly informed me you were not coming home to live with Mummy, Daddy and your new baby sister, you were a very strong-willed little girl. I cried thinking you didn’t want me anymore but, after a day or so of visiting you, you changed your mind and was ready to take up residence with your biological family again.
Ka was a different story, you were not too thrilled with sharing the time and attention with this intruder, sibling rivalry was evident at the early age of 2 years. After a time you knew this little baby sister was here to stay, you were the protector, wherever we went, there you would find Ka trying to copy her big sister. You two were very good friends during toddlerhood. I always dressed you the same and because Ka was close to your height people would think you were twins.
Eventually we returned to England, we traveled for a while. One of our stops was Liverpool, home of The Beatles. There you went to school, to your Mums horror you came home speaking with a broad Liverpudlian dialect ( a little bit of snobbery in your Mums Southern upbringing, Sussex). Your clothes were always grubby because of the soot from the industrial city. Wherever we went you were our social butterfly. At Liverpool Station during very early hours of the morning we found you sitting on the lap of a vagrant, dirty, smelly old man, both of you enjoying one another, unaware of the differences. Just accepting each other, I wish we had a camera, this was a very touching scene.
When we lived in Loughborough, one of the homes we occupied was once the place where John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement slept. We rented the top flat, you had a play room on the third floor, it was a huge room, little cold but plenty of room to run around and enjoy playing house and school with Ka. Of course you were always the boss!”
Then my Mum said, “And now we’re on our way to America, I know you’ll be the same here as you have always been, you’ll find things to and friends to find old and young, go to sleep and tomorrow will be another day…I love you and there will be other letters for me to write” I said “I love you too Mummy..I feel better now” I feel into a deep sleep.
And there is so much more to our trip along with Mummy’s letters to come.