Tuesday, 13 October 2009


This month's carnival is an interesting mix, but probably not for the reasons that are immediately obvious.

I want to begin by relating a little story.

The story begins somewhen before 1999

Here in the UK Halloween was not celebrated until fairly recently.  As a family we never celebrated, preferring to do other things.  We 'celebrated' in our own homes - usually by not actually doing anything because as far as we were concerned it was a 'non event'.  However, things changed in about 1992 shortly after my father died.  At the time my mother was still living in their house and became the target of some very unpleasant Halloween 'pranks'.  From that time on we determined that she would never be at home alone on that evening, and so we developed the habit of having our own alternative celebration at our daughters' home some distance away.  This would involve a lovely family meal and an entertaining and amusing video, so that all thought of what might otherwise have happened would be avoided.

All went well until the fateful day in 1999.  The plans were made as usual, but this time, as I was working, other arrangements were made to transport my mother from her home to that of my daughter.  I arrived a little earlier than anticipated and wasn't surprised to find that Mum hadn't yet arrived.  By the time the dinner was ready, however, we were all somewhat concerned.  We now discovered that we had all telephoned at various times during the day and on each occasion there had been no reply.  Unfortunately the distance was too far to rush back, so I telephoned  friends who lived a short drive from my mother.  They had an emergency key and a short while later I was summoned in great panic as the police had been called.  I knew no more than that as I drove as quickly as possible. I arrived at about 10pm to a state of total mayhem.  I didn't recognise my mother who was being treated by an paramedic.  The police were going about their business very efficiently, but I couldn't understand what had happened at all.

When is a friend not a friend?  That is a very hard question to answer.  An apparently very good friend of my mother had offered to drive her to the 'party'.  She had known this man for a number of years, and he also attended her church.  He was smart, had a good job and was very well respected.  What no-one knew was that he suffered from a mental illness which was controlled by medication.  For a completely unknown reason he had decided to stop taking his medication, and when he arrived at my mother's was in no fit state to drive, or in fact to be anywhere other than under medical care.  Suffice it to say his behaviour left a lot to be desired.  My mother was forced to remain lying down and unable to move for a considerable length of time during which he did some very strange things, including walking all over her. 

I won't go into any more details, but it was sorted out, although not very satisfactorily, and my mother got on with her life, even managing to forgive him.  However, a couple of years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy.  The link?  We were told that the extreme stress that she experiences accompanied by the injuries that he inflicted on her upper body were probably the cause of the cancer.  She coped with the whole thing admirably, and although she is frail and her health is failing fast she is now 92 and still with us.  We will no longer get together in the same way at the end of October as now Mum is far too weak to travel.  We do, however, support Breast Cancer Awareness, and here is a photograph from last year