Thirty Six Days of Me – Day 03: Your parents, in great detail
They both read this blog, although I’m not 100% sure which platform they do so on. Nevertheless, I’m relying on them to correct factual errors, and to tell me what is and isn’t appropriate for me to share here.
John was born to Ernest and Mabel on 27th May 1943 in Salford, near Manhcester. With a secondary name from his father, his given name was listed second, because his mother was leery of landing her son with the initials JEL – L at the time didn’t stand for his current last name but one of German extraction; the family moved to the UK in the ealry part of the twentieth century. Ernest joined the army shortly after John’s birth, and with the worry that being cpatured with a German name would result in his being shot as a spy, the family changed their name; Linton being picked by Mabel out of Wuthering Heights. Following the Manchester Blitz in 1940, the area was under continuing alert, and my grandma used to tell me stories of retreating into shelter with her infant son, including a group collection and pooling of breast milk from all available nursing mothers, so that each of the children could have enough.
I don’t remember my father’s father very well, but I do have many many fond memories of my Grandma, and regret that she died before I really hit the age of appreciating the connection she felt for her past and her love of stories, and of people. She believed in knowing yourself, being true to yourself, and in telling conformity to suck it. She was born a twin but lost her sister very early on, and never forgot her. She had wanted to go to university, but was taken out of school at 14 to work at Boots. She had a passionate love affair with a man she considered her One True Love before she met my grandfather – she had a very long engagement with my grandfather and married him just before the war. She was researching her family tree when she died and I don’t know what happened to that research, although I’d love to get my hands on it. She believed in living the hell out of life. And I’m pretty damn sure she’d be proud of me, and not just because she adored the ground all five of her grandchildren walked on. John has one younger brother, Derek, and it’s that family that taught me that family is just about the most important thing in the world. Even as adults, they talk a lot and often, and keep in touch just like – well just like brothers, but I get the impression from other families that maybe many people don’t rank their family as their very best friends? I don’t know. Anyway, my father is a family man, and just like his mother, he’d do anything for any of us at the drop of a hat. I know that we’re lucky.
John spent his childhood being told he was ‘intelligent’ – he did very well at school in maths and science and was streamed for the university selection process. He read Physics at Manchester University before moving to London to work in the rapidly growing information technology sector, landing a job at British European Airways (BEA). Being young and on his own in a strange city, he joined a small social club that met above a pub in Holborn regularly. It was at this club’s Christmas party in 1969 that he met my Mother.
Carol was born to Mansel and Daphne on the 18th December 1946. Once again, I’m not giving her childhood surname because the banks I deal with STILL think that’s a secure and reasonable word to demand as a password. She grew up in Taunton, Somerset with a younger brother, Ken.
Unlike my Dad, my Mum was not constantly told how intelligent she was. With the kind of literacy struggles that today would be recognised as dyslexia, she didn’t learn to read until she was 7 years old, and would continue to have trouble with linguistic learning – she spent her childhood being made consistently aware how ‘stupid’ she was compared to other children. Which is, I have to say, utterly ridiculous. Carol was – and remains – brilliant in the logical/mathematical and visual spatial intelligence, fueled by her desire to prove herself. She read physics at the University of East Anglia and used to tell me with a warning note not to burn myself out too hard like she did, despite the fact that she did very well indeed. Since retiring, she has obtained a bachelors and a masters in maths, and is currently working towards a PhD in materials science.
John and Carol met in 1969 and were married in 1970 – ten months after meeting and after an undisclosed amount of time living together – something I can reveal on a public blog because three of the four parents who weren’t aware of the situation are no longer with us, and I’m sure my grandmother will survive if she find out now. Their best friends from that club all paired up and married at around the same time, and they all remain great friends.
Both my parents worked in IT managment consistently for the same two companies until retirement, in which they are living the Baby Boomer dream. Mum has her studies and her exercise classes and walking group (formerly a jogging group but no one got any younger). Dad has his computer and a model train kit. And they both have the grandchildren, on whom they dote like grandparents are supposed to. Abby spends a day a week at my parents’, andthere I get to talk to her over Skype when she and I are having lunch and breakfast, respectively.
My parents taught me to value my education and to love stories and to always tell the truth as accurately and fully as possible. They raised me atheist and were very careful to limit the amount of pink I exposed myself to. My Mum in particular has always been adamant that I never ever anyone tell me what women can and cannot do. They took me on holidays to the western United States where I learned that the Earth is an awesome place to live, and they indulged the Dinosaur thing right up to supporting me through university. For all we disagree on say, politics (and we disagree a lot on that), the one thing I’ve taken from them both is to be myself, and to be that unapologetically.
This post can also be found at Thagomizer.net. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.