Found A Brother, Sort Of.

I was only three years of age at the time when it happened. My parents' blood doesn't mix, apparently. That's the kind of thing that happened in the 1960s and no-one looked for a more detailed explanation. My Mum can't carry girls at all, and it gradually got harder and harder for her to have boys. To her credit she still managed three of us, two of whom have been healthy so far, but one who has always had a few health problems as he was born way early and with his internals all mixed up, or something (I've never been in there with a sphygmomanometer to check). But anyway, she lost one girl before me in 1960, then she had me and my brother (63, 65) and then in 66 she was carrying another boy, who was born, named David, but who was 'very poorly indeed' as they say, and was taken from her at birth (she was very poorly too) and who died a few hours later. This wasn't the end of her miscarriages and pregnancies but she had my youngest brother in 69, just. She was stll trying when I was 17 or so; I remember driving her to the doctor to get things checked out. All those promises of improved medical science but she never had any more.

So, David. He seems like a symbol of the all the others, partly because he made it to being born. He had a personality for us. My Dad knew him for a couple of hours but he's not one for talking about it. After he died he went off to the hospital authorities and my Dad signed papers to have him taken by a Funeral Directors and, pretty much, that was that. Mum was still ill, Dad had to look after us for a few days so we all just got on with it.

If I'm honest I should declare how this has affected me. Badly. Right from the start it wasn't good. I remember having nightmares and insomnia. People were kind then, they'd tell me that he'd just 'Gone to sleep'... so there was no way I was going to sleep. When I did it was scary. People try to say nice things but when you're a kid everything gets mixed up and the results aren't necessarily as intended. Nowadays (on a good day!) I persuade myself that we survivors are the lucky ones, but I still feel guilty. As the eldest brother it was my job. There's no logic that makes this good sense, but I've always felt it. And death anxiety is a worry!

But anyway, the paperwork turned up a few years ago and lay dormant in my thoughts; faded and tatty, written in longhand fountain pen italic script - Certificate of Death and an invoice from the Undertakers. In the modern age, in England at least, there's no real certainty about being a dead baby at the hospital. They might bury you or they might sell you to Pfizer for medical science, depending on whether the government of the day is providing adequate funding (enough to wipe the slime out of the corners, that is). So it was with some trepidation that I decided to try and find David. I decided that I'd investigate and then let my mum and dad know if what I find out wasn't too revolting.

Thankfully it wasn't like the Da Vinci Code. The Funeral Directors still existed in a nearby city so I got in touch with the Council Cemeteries Department with a date and name, and they were brilliant. Amazingly there were records of his death and where he's buried. No particular 'plot', but a garden area where the babies were buried without much fuss. Different times, I suppose.

So this week I finally got the Memorial Plaque installed and told my parents that they should visit. He would be 44 in October. My parents and brothers seem kind of united behind the whole experience and we'll have some kind of loose funeral, partly in rememberance of the others that didn't get names or plots of any kind (although maybe my Mum has all that stored in her heart).

Whether it will help me with some closure I don't know. I've lived with impending death from a very early age and the death anxiety is still unbridled.
CrookedMan CrookedMan
1 Response Jul 18, 2010

I am so glad. HUGS, livingwell