Warm greetings to you-
I would like to share with you some childhood memories. These memories emphasise the importance of my reunions with my family in Canada. My family in Canada are a vital link to my mental health wellbeing.
When I was eight years old, my Mother went to Vancouver to start a new life. In England, she had met a kind and decent Canadian gentleman. In Vancouver, a place so far away, my Mother prepared herself to start a new journey. She craved a fresh start and now she had that chance.
That left me in England. A little boy, very alone and very scared. For now it was just my Father and me. Oh, how I missed my Mother. I was happy for her but I was hysterical with grief. When would my Mum return? So I waited and I waited. I knew she must return.
During this time, my Father, who was intolerable, became even worse. It saddens me to say that I have no pleasant memories of my Dad. From a very early age, I realised that my Father, took great pleasure in publicly humiliating me. He never praised me, all he did was mock me. My Dad seized every opportunity to point out how stupid I was. He instilled in me an all-consuming sense of worthlessness. I believed him when he told me I was stupid. If my Dad thought I was an idiot, then in the mind of a scared little boy, it was true.
Eight months passed by. To a little boy, it might just well have been eight years. My mother was back from Vancouver. How I rejoiced. My Mother was home from that strange and distant land. What were her plans? Was she back to stay or was this the closing of a chapter in her life?
I recall what happened next with remarkable clarity. I was called into the living room of our flat in Blackheath. My Mother and my Father sat there looking very tense. This now nine year old child was about to make the biggest, life-altering decision of his life. A decision that has had repercussions and ramifications ever since.
I was given a choice. Did I want to stay in England with my Dad ? Or, did I want to move to Vancouver and live with my Mum and that thoroughly decent Canadian gentleman? Being a nine year old, I was thinking...'big cars..real mountains...an exciting adventure.' There was no doubt in my mind what I should do. 'Canada..here I come!'
So my new life began. This little boy with the funny English accent moved to Canada. I adapted well. I blended into the Canadian way of life with relative ease. Heck, I had a Canadian accent by the time I was ten. My life seemed fairly positive.
They were exciting times but I always wondered about my Dad. How was he coping? He knew where I lived, yet he never communicated. The years rolled by and thoughts of my Dad became a distant memory. He had been a terrible Father to me. Perhaps it was just as well that I blanked him from my mind.
Curiosity did get the better of me. Fourteen years later, in 1976, I returned to England. Even though my Dad had made no attempt to contact me; I went to find him. I managed to contact his Mother. In her flat in London, she phoned my Dad. She handed me the phone. Thirty one years later, the words he spoke still haunt me. "What do you want?" he said, "as far as I'm concerned you're a ghost!"
Several heart-wrenching situations occured after that phone call. Indeed, many of the sad complications in my life have a direct link to what happened when I was that scared, lonely little boy. Yet, even though I have been disowned by my Dad. Even though my son has never known him as a Grandfather; I have much to be grateful for.
For in Canada, I have a family that provides me with love and support. They know how tough it has been for me, trying to live the British 'dream', I so desired. That is why, even though I am desperately lonely, even though I feel so isolated. I take great comfort that I shall soon be seeing my family.
So to my Mother, whose is a kind and generous soul. To my Stepfather, who has been more of a Dad to me than my own. To my two Brothers, who I don't know well enough. Thanks for all your encouragement and reassurance.
Thank you my friends, I leave you with the hope of a brighter, more positive future for us all. I am going Home for a holiday.