All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The childhood shows the man, As morning shows the day.

A happy little chap, isn't he?

But he would not be much older than this when his mother told him that she hadn't wanted him....she had wanted a girl, and furthermore she had known he was going to be bad luck because when she was pregnant a black rat had run across the path in front of her.

Things did not improve.
He would splash in puddles and muddy the clothes she had made....there would be a quarrel between the parents over his 'wildness' which would end in his father hitting his mother who would roll on the floor crying out to him
'Look what you made him do!'

Little drudge in the household....
Down to the back door of the bakery at 6.00 am, summer and winter to have fresh bread on the breakfast table.....
Doing the shopping after school  in town, to bring it back on the train and found panic stricken by the priest when he had mistakenly put the shopping money on the collection plate....
Out weeding the vegetable garden every evening.....before washing up and then rocking to sleep first the little brother and later the little sister  before his own bedtime.

Summer was his release.
Sent, travelling alone from the age of five, to his father's mother he was in the world of his cousins and their friends, in and out of houses and gardens, taking turns to ride a rusty old bicycle in a pair of shorts made from an uncle's worn out corduroy trousers.....sheer freedom.

His mother would bring the two younger children to stay with her parents....in the same town.
He would go to the house every morning to say hello, but that was the limit of the contact. His shabby shorts did not fit her picture of herself as the devoted young mother whose fine sewing adorned her offspring.

Thwarted in his desire to study art, pushed into a job he did not want to do, dealing with a father who became demented when his wife left him, trying to hold things together and blamed for everything, his teens and early twenties were no brighter.
The black rat was always across his path.

Yet when, many years later, his elderly mother began to have accidents...leaving the gas on, taking tumbles...he was the only one of her children to offer to take her into his own home, to convert the ground floor of his house into a flat for her and provide daily assistance and nursing care, at his own expense.

Because the child had been taught by the nuns to honour his father and his mother and to return good for evil.... and the childhood showed the man.






25 comments:

  1. What we sometimes do to children, Fly..... I wonder whether his mother felt those coals of fire when receiving his care in later life?

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    1. She refused his help.
      The younger brother put her in a nursing home where she became effectively bedridden.

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  2. We forget the people are children are destined to be at our own peril. And, alas, theirs.

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    1. And your children will have very happy memories of a secure and loving childhood with tuna sandwiches down the back of the car seats!

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  3. Comparable to Oliver Twist and Cinderella.
    A great read.

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    1. It shows you don't have to become a delinquent because you have a hard childhood....

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  4. What a touching, heart-tugging read. I wanted to scoop the little boy up in my arms and give him a big hug.

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    1. That would have been just what he needed...

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  5. An inspiring tale of how the human spirit can overcome bad things, and a wonderful person.

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    1. The old question of nature and nurture....

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  6. I have the very strong impression that this is someone close to your home and heart...

    I hope so anyway, because that would mean that later in life he found the love, care and appreciation which was so sadly lacking in his childhood.

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  7. I was just about to say something similar to Pueblo Girl, and you have confirmed that this is the case.

    Having had a cruel mother myself, stories like this make me hold my breath and my heart beat very fast when I'm reading them.

    Children deserve to be cherished. Sadly so many are not.

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    1. I'm amazed that he came through it all as well as he did.

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  8. If peace and inner calm through selfless forgiveness defines a forsaken man’s true strength and wisdom, then some sense of justice has rightly been granted such an inspiring and deserved good man.

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    1. I think it's not just what is done to you, but what is in you that determines how you turn out....but thank goodness for the nuns!

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  9. Apologies if this sounds a bit contrived Fly - but my favourite of all of Shakespeare's plays has always been King Lear. It was there (amongst other things!) that I learned that you love 'according to your bond, no more nor less' (paraphrase of Ophelia to Lear). And this is what we do - or should do. Even if those bonds are strained. Even when we are rejected and maltreated. The best amongst us continues to love and to serve. I cannot pretend to be one of those 'best' - but your post subject can.

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    1. I worked in Child Protection for 9 years. In that time I learned that the most abused child will still cling to the most abusive parent. I cannot understand that - but I did not walk in their shoes.
      I suspect your mettle is very different from your fears...

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  11. No,I can't understand it either.

    I certainly didn't cling to my mother who was busy taking out her frustrations by trying to undermine my confidence from as far back as I can remember.

    But this chap was taught by nuns who gave him love and kindness...enough perhaps to account for his later actions.

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  12. Anonymous, your comment has not appeared for two reasons.
    Firstly, I do not accept anonymous comments unless it is someone who has told me that they do not want a Google identity.
    Secondly, I do not regard it as good practice to preserve your own anonymity while not respecting that of others.

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  13. Is his father's mother a memory that makes him smile. My mother had a hard time but was sent to granny for visits on her own. Heartbreakingly she said that she was the only one that had ever tucked her in and kissed her goodnight.

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  14. I didn't see this post in August what with being on holiday but I'm glad to have caught up. It is a very moving post and I so feel for that little boy.

    His childhood makes me think of Hervé Bazin's book La Vipere au Poing about the cruelty of his mother. There are some women who should never have children. Their children can only succumb to the cruelty and repeat in their own lives, or survive it and strive to live differently as adults.

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    1. Yes, I know the book.
      The mother was fine with the other two...it was just him she resented.

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