As a child pictures meant nothing to me, they were just a pain. Something to be posed for and cause embarrassment when they were showed around family and friends.
Then on the 16/6/1968 everything changed!
On that day my mum died and my world fell apart. My mum and dad had separated prior to this and my mum was living with another man. When my mum died my dad was already an absent father and the new man legged it leaving the whole family with no one.
There were four of us and that gave social services a real problem. They would never find a single home for all four together or so they thought. The younger two siblings would be found parents easy. They were eleven month old twins and all adoptive parents want young kids. The other sibling and myself would prove much more difficult. He was almost four years old and I had just had my ninth birthday 15 days earlier.
Social services decided the solution was to split the family up. Taking the twins to be adopted and my brother and I were to be sent to stay with my Mum’s sister. The problem being she lived over 420 miles away in Somerset. She also had two young children of her own. So my brother and I were sent on a train journey basically with the clothes we stood up in. You can understand this to a certain extent a train journey that long with two young kids, you wouldn't be able to take much at all.
When we arrived there, there were obvious problems to be dealt with. Fitting us all in a terraced house wasn't easy, there were financial issues for my aunt and the last straw was the problems created by social services themselves. The result of this was that we only stayed there for two weeks.
After those two weeks we had the return train journey back up to Scotland. This journey was slightly shorter being slightly less than 420 miles. We were returned to a children’s home in Crossgates.
Once again we only stayed here for around 2 weeks before we were given to foster parents that had been friends of my Mum's and who I'd known all my life.
With my Mum dying, all the travelling around I had nothing personal of my Mum's. I assume that once we were on our way to Somerset the council treated the house like it had been abandoned and put everything into the tip. So we were left with not even a PICTURE.
Things stayed that way until, as far as pictures were concerned, till I was in my 20's. I then received a small album of pictures from my aunt, the one who we had been sent to stay with, my parent’s wedding picture and a picture of me at the gala with my flag looking miserable. The only picture I didn't have and the one I craved was a picture of me with my mum. That would have made things perfect. I would have had my memories to look at and to remember when I got old and grey.
Years and years past with no chance of me ever getting the one picture I craved the most. I'd given up and thought I would never get one! I had a hole in my heart and my past that I just couldn't fill.
Then just before Christmas 2009 on a day I was feeling really low. My best friend phoned for a chat, just saying, ‘Hey, how are you?’ Afterward I felt sorry for her for the response she got. That was me having a real moan about my life, in particular about this issue of not having a picture of me and mum together. She knew the history and asked what pictures I did have? So I told her and was asked to email scanned copies of two particular pictures to her, my parent’s wedding picture and the picture of me at the gala.
What she did was create three sketches. One of each of these pictures as they were and a sketch of me and my mum, just our faces, but it was both of us together.
I know it might sound silly but that sketch means the world to me. It shows me and my mum together for the world to see, looking like a proper family. When I look at it now I can see my mum as if she is still here looking so happy and healthy with me.
It doesn't matter what others think of the sketch or what they think about my feelings for it. It makes my past feel a lot happier than it probably was and it means the world to me.
Showing that true treasures have nothing to do with money! What matters is family, memories and how they make us feel.
Finally I have my PICTURE with my mum!
This has now inspired me to start taking drawing lessons so I can create a full family picture of all four siblings and my mum. It might take me a while but soon all 3 of my siblings will receive a picture of OUR Mum and the four of us as a gift from me.