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Monday, August 4, 2008

Veronica

"Now then dear, I wanted to catch you for a moment.."


Veronica had trailed me through to the kitchen, as I helped to clear away the evening meal. It was the first time my boyfriend had brought me home to his parents house, and although it wasn't the first time we had met (we had already been out for a meal together when they were last visiting London) this was his way of signaling to them that our relationship was more than just casual.

".. You see, I was hoping to ask you - I do hope you won't try to stop Alan from still keeping in touch with Trisha, will you? She is like a daughter to us, you know."

I almost dropped the plates. He and Trisha had broken up over two years before we'd even met. What the hell did she expect me to answer to that? Truthfully, I couldn't give a hoot whether or not they were still in touch, it was the way she was so obviously warning me off that disturbed me. I muttered something lame about Alan being perfectly able to choose his own friends, and it certainly wasn't any of my business whom he did or didn't choose to keep in touch with.

"We play golf with her parents every week, you know.."



(Really?) I had a fleeting image of introducing my own parents to her and Jack, and my stomach went into an instant spasm. Dad being permanently pissed, and with mum as nutty as a fruitcake, I rather doubted they'd find them suitable as an alternative set of golf buddies.



Bugger.



But still, I had a fair amount to offer. I was young(ish) at 29, had never been married before, had no children, and was the sole proprietor of a business that then currently pay rolled over 500 staff. What more did they want? I mean, sure, Al was also fairly successful in his own right, but no one could ever accuse me of being a gold-digger. Besides, I liked to think I was polite and presentable, I ate with the right knife and fork and was sure to never pick my nose in public.



It got worse when we announced our engagement.



"It will be a church wedding, of course? Not anything seedy like sloping off abroad somewhere?"



(By this time she'd already met my parents and had perfectly read my mind.) As a sop I invited them to come, but Al didn't really fancy being stuck on the Seychelles with his parents on our honeymoon. To be frank, it didn't inspire me much, either. He wriggled out of it, tho' I still suspect he used me for an excuse. When we arrived back as man and wife, Veronica presented me with a very valuable diamond, solitaire ring. It had once been her grandfathers tie-pin, and was little short of the size of a golf ball. She passed it to me with the tender words of, "Should you divorce, I expect it back."



Anyhows, that kind of set the tone from there on out. Veronica tolerated me because she had to, I was polite to her because I felt obliged to be. There was not much love lost, but we rubbed by. We even spent a whole week together every Easter, and they always stayed with us over the Christmas period. It was bearable.


Until Sam arrived.



"There is nothing wrong with our side of the Gene pool, dear. And besides, you have a perfectly beautiful child there, what on earth's the matter with you?"


She couldn't accept Sam was different, and she took my prying into her family's medical history as a personal insult. I was just looking for answers from any corner, at that point in time no-one other than me thought Sam was experiencing any difficulties, he was just a late developer, or so they said. I truly felt I was the worst mother in the world, betraying him by pointing out what to me seemed so blatantly obvious.

Her response to Sam's eventual diagnosis was to shut down. "I don't feel comfortable around these people." ("The mentally handicapped" as she later clarified.) It hardly endeared her to me. I really should add in here that her husband Jack, Al's father, was an absolute rock to us over this period, he was there every step of the way to support and to help us in any manner that he could. Thing is, you may well be forgiven for thinking Veronica was simply a shallow, vain and silly woman, but actually she wasn't. No one is entirely one dimensional, most of us are at least partially products of our environment, she being no exception.



Before she died, I asked both her and Jack to sit down and to chronicle their own individual life stories - a kind of first hand record that we might one day be able to pass on down to their grandchildren. I am sad to say that it wasn't until after she had passed that I finally got around to reading what she had so painstakingly written. Perhaps had I read it earlier, I may have come to understand her a little better.

Like most of you, I do so hate posts that ramble on. So I shall save her story for my next entry, it certainly is worth the telling.

44 comments:

Fletch said...

You surely go where others rarely tread.

Well told, and I expect I will have to fight off everybody else to get to read the sequel first.

Good one!

CHEWY said...

Shrinky,
You caught me and I always come back looking for more. - I suspect Veronica's letter reveals another side of her.

RiverPoet said...

Sweetie, I could read your posts for hours, but like a good serialization, your stories always keep us coming back for me. Can't wait for the next installment.

And doggone it, there isn't a thing wrong with Sam! (That made me angry...)

Peace - D

SJ said...

No gold dogging no nose digging. Dig that!

Waiting for the tale to unfold...

Shrinky said...

Fletch, "in-laws" are always a ticklish topic, Veronica was a complex woman and she did have many redeeming features, I hope to do her justice with my next post. Smile.

Shrinky said...

No fooling you, Chewy!

Shrinky said...

I know riverpoet, sadly Veronica came from a generation where children like Sam were usually kept hidden from view. She genuinely did love him, she soon learnt a life lesson about "people like that".

Shrinky said...

Um, sj - I'm confused..

Akelamalu said...

How sad that she couldn't accept Sam. I'm sure she's kicking herself where she is now.

I can't wait to read her story, hopefuly it will explain why.

Hilary said...

I'm looking forward to part two. You write so well and with your insight to the human psyche, I have no doubt you'll do Veronica justice.

Les Becker said...

You're mean, Shrink. Mean, mean, mean.

And I refuse to like that woman until or unless you manage to change my mind with the next post. 'Cuz I'm not comfortable around "those people". You know... Uppity ones.

i beati said...

waiting anxiously

Shrinky said...

akelamalu, it wasn't Sam she didn't accept, it was his condition she had trouble wrapping her head around - but she did, eventually.

Shrinky said...

Hilary, this coming from such an acomplished writer as you, I can feel the pressure piling now to try to pull this one off (wish me luck). Smile.

quilly said...

Cliff-hanger! I want to know now!

It took my mother-in-law a long time to warm up to me, but I can happily say that she did and we forged a wonderful bond. I am sorry you missed that experience. I am waiting impatiently for the rest of Veronica's story.

Shrinky said...

Haha! Yes les, I do feel mean, 'cos I don't want to paint her in such a bad light, but what I've written, this was just a surface to her, there was a lot more going on beneath, you'll see. x

Shrinky said...

hi i beati, I'm re-reading her script as you type, I want it fresh in my mind. It won't be long.

Shrinky said...

quilly, a year before she died Veronica, took my hand and stated, "I missed out on my grand-children, didn't I?"

Overwhelmingly sad.

Mushy said...

As Les said, you have a lot of writing to do to change my opinion at this point.

I rarely give second chances, so it had better be a good as this one!

Shrinky said...

Mushy, it's true I often found her difficult (understatement), but I am a little more sympathetic for having been given an insight in to the life that shaped her. (Knowing the person you are, I think you will be too. x)

pat houseworth said...

Lass, your writing just keeps getting better and better...style beats number of postings everytime.

Shrinky said...

Aw, Pat, thank you bonny lad, you've plastered a big cheesy grin across my face!

Kit Courteney said...

Today, I found your blog and I love the way you write.
I was awarded - well - an award last week by a fellow blogger and I must now pass it on to those authors of blogs I particuarly enjoy.
I am awarding you even though I've only just found you as I am now gripped and will be coming back for more!
If you would like to 'collect' it, you can find it on my blog.
Very best wishes to you.
Kit C :0)

BRUNO said...

I stay out of family matters of others every chance I get.

The wind seems to change direction and speed, every damned time you light that big pile of brush! Just when you think you know where to stand, to stay out of it's path, it suddenly turns on you, and leaves you all black, burnt, and naked for all to see.

I'll let someone else "burn the pile" for this one, dearie...

Les Becker said...

Ooops! I should have been more clear-er-er. I meant that you were mean for the cliff-hanger. I STILL mean that you're mean because of the cliff-hanger.

(And I still don't like her much. Yet.)

Scott from Oregon said...

If she can swing a three wood she's alright by me...

Helena said...

Thank you for your visit, your kindness, support and encouragement :^)

Jay said...

That takes me right back to the first years with my MIL. I always thought she felt I wasn't quite good enough for her beloved youngest son. She was always picking holes in what I did, or thought, or said, from the way I cooked potatoes, and didn't cook rice pudding, to the fact that I wasn't about to be the wife three steps behind her husband with downcast eyes. She particularly seemed to resent not being presented with a grand-daughter, which she seemed to feel was her due, and that I could do it if I really wanted to.

But apparently, I was wrong. According to those who knew her well, she thought the sun shone out of my backside. Pity she was never really able to show that..

Looking forward to part two, to find out what made Veronica tick!

CJ said...

You certainly are an understanding and compassionate person. Many would have written her off without a second thought for those comments. I am very interested in reading what is to follow.

Shrinky said...

Hey kit, I'm tickled pink, thank you so much!! (Hot footing it over to your site as I type..)

Shrinky said...

Ah bruno me lad, there speaks the voice of experience (chuckle).. wise words indeed my friend, tho' I'm sure you would have had some invaluable advice for me several years back.. wink.

Shrinky said...

Haha, gotcha'! Les, you daft bint, you are just too easy to wind up.. can't resist.

(Duck)

Shrinky said...

Scott, have to confess I was often tempted to swing a three-wood myself upon occasion, and not at any golfball..

Shrinky said...

helena, one fine day I shall make it over to your neck of the woods, I know for sure we'll have a great old time together. (Hugs)

Shrinky said...

Jay, why do people do that? It's like when my mother died, a nun approached me and asked, "Are you Carol?" She then went on to tell me of how she had never stopped talking of me, of so proud my mother had always been of me. I was stunned, I had had no idea.

Tragic really.

Shrinky said...

oh cj, I promise you, I'm a class-A bitch at heart (just ask chewy)!

We (Veronica and I) made an uneasy peace in the end, I didn't need to like her to admire her.

Martin Stickland said...

Wow! A good post and not a ramble young lady!

So where is shaggy Island? Is that where Father Ted lives?

Martin Stickland said...

My son is called Jake but he cannot clean his bits like Bandit ... thankfully!

Thanks for visiting my blog, it was my first visit to your blog too!!

Byeeeeeeeeeeeee

david mcmahon said...

Ramble on? RAMBLE ON? Dear Shrinky, I didn't want this post to end.

I agree with Fletch.

Easybreathingfella said...

Hi Carol,

I wait with baited breath to read the next installment.

I could be wrong but Veronica came from a differant age where one did not find it easy to express emotions of show true feeling, it's that very British stiff upper lip and all that.
Feelings can be hard to express, and I wonder if Al's dad was as you say, "a tower of strength" but with a more then a little push from Veronica. You know the adage "Behind every great man, is a woman"

I'll see if maybe I'm near the mark or still out in the cold with your next post.

Carol said...

More more more, please, more!

When I saw your name was also 'Carol' I understood all the more!

Congrats on your Post of the Day award on David's blog!

Another Carol

Jules~ said...

I don't think you were rambling on. I look forward to hearing what happens next with your mother-in-law's story.
I guess it might always be hard to become an in-law. For me, I became my husband's third wife and everyone on his side figured we would simply be another failure.
Congratulations on David's Post of the Day.

Shrinky said...

martin, so nice to meet you in here! I am convinced this little rock in the Irish sea was the inspriration for Father Ted (grin).
As for your Jake, be grateful for small blessings..

Aw david, you always say the nicest of things (and thank you my friend for awarding this your post of the day) x

keith, you are right about the first part of your assessment hon, Veronica lived through the war, people in those times were never encouraged to wear their hearts on their sleeve. I'm afraid Jack was much hen-picked, though he positively worshiped her, and their relationship certainly worked and proved to stand the test of time. I think Jack found himself caught in the middle between us on many occassions. He was a wonderful man, I still mourn his loss to this day.

Hello "another carol" (giggle), so great to make your acquaintence. Well, you are obviously going to be a good friend, how can you fail with a name like that? (Laughing) Thank you for your kind words, I look forward to visiting with you soon.

Jules, I'm sure I will probably make a dreadful mother-in-law when my own time rolls around. It's laden with pitfalls, isn't it? Oh, and for what it's worth, my older brother, when he married his fifth wife, we all just rolled our eyes and waited to pick up the pieces. He had never managed to make a relationship work for longer than three years before then. That was almost twelve years ago, and guess what? They are still going strong!

imbeingheldhostage said...

I'm not hating the "rambling" at all-- maybe it's because I'm the most verbose blogger you'll come across -- I am really enjoying your blog!