Written by Vanessa Anne Walsh
Image of a train similar to the one I would travel to school on.
Please Be Careful
Three days passed painfully slowly, with no news from Mum. Then, just as I was about to leave for school one morning, a taxi pulled up outside. I rushed out to see if it was Mum. As I reached the street, I watched mother slowly and with a great deal of effort climb out of the cab. I found it difficult to hide the sense of shock I felt as I noted her frail and aged appearance. Her lily-white face could not hide the deep, dark rings under her eyes, and as she looked up, I noted that the lid over her left eye was partially shut. She barely acknowledged me as she paid the cab driver and when she finally turned to face me, her mouth was drawn tightly closed, emphasizing her haggard appearance.
“Mum,” I cried, at once thrilled to see her, and devastated by how sickly and aged she looked. “Let me help you with your bags.” I said rushing forward to give her a hug; however she didn’t even raise her arms to return the embrace. We walked slowly inside without talking, before I settled her in the living room and offered her a cup of tea.
I found it difficult to stop staring at her face in disbelief and amazement. It was as though she had aged twenty years since I last saw her. I wanted to ask her about her trip, but it was heartbreakingly obvious something terrible had gone wrong. Not wanting to overwhelm her with questions, I sat beside her, holding her hand. Disturbingly, she just sat in silence. Together we sat, not saying anything, for about half an hour. At some point Dad entered the room; however neither mother nor father spoke a word to each other. I felt my heart sink. The atmosphere immediately intensified as Dad marched through the room, as if he was checking to see what Mum was saying, rather than looking after her state of health. Inside, I could feel myself beginning to seethe as my chest tightened with anxiety.
After a while, Dad left the room, and not able to restrain myself any longer, I leaned forward, looking intently into my mother’s eyes. “Mum, what happened,” I whispered. “I have been trying to find you, but Dad wouldn’t tell me where you were.”
With her eyes cast downward, and unable to meet my gaze, mother murmured in a tone that was barely audible, “As I was leaving the hotel in Singapore, I suffered a brain aneurism and collapsed. I was taken to hospital and that is where I have been the past few days. They told me I shouldn’t fly, however I was worried about you and Lucy and felt I had to get home.”
“That’s awful Mum. I’m so sorry.” I paused for a moment before asking, “Do we need to take you to hospital now that you are back?”
“No dear, I’ll be seeing my doctor in a few days. For now I just need to get some rest,” she replied in a voice barely above a whisper.
I squeezed her hand. “How was Canada Mum? Were you sick there as well?”
Immediately, Mum’s face froze over with an icy stare. She just sat, dazed and in silence. Horrified by the change in her expression, I offered to help her settle in bed, but she refused to allow me to assist her any further.
“Don’t you have to be at school?” she said, looking around to check the time.
“Mum, if you are sick and need help, I can stay home today,” I said. “I am so worried about you. You look so frail, as though you are about to pass out.”
Again, her face froze, gaunt and lifeless. “I’ll be alright,” she replied coldly. “You get back to your studies. You have exams coming up soon. It’s important to me that you do well.” Finding it difficult even to contemplate my school work at this time, I reluctantly got up and agreed to catch the next train to school. “Is there anyone you want me to ring, to come and look after you while I’m away,” I asked, as I picked up my school bag. “What about one of your friends?”
“No,” was the short reply. “Go to school Oceané. I will see you this afternoon.”
Upset by the lack of emotion and affection I was used to receiving from my mother, and horrified by her ghostly and frail appearance, I walked quietly out the door. Instead of feeling relief that she had made it home safely, my concerns and worries had only increased. She was all I could think about as I gazed out of the dirty window as the train sped towards the city.
Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019
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Key events of 1985
In this release
1 – The first British mobile phone call is made
7 – Nine striking miners are jailed for arson
23 – A debate in the House of Lords is televised for the first time
29 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the first post-war Prime Minister to be refused an honorary degree by Oxford University
16 – Civil servant Clive Ponting resigns from MoD after acquittal of breaching the Official Secrets Act for leaking documents relating to the sinking of General Belgrano during the Falklands War
20 – Margaret Thatcher visits Washington DC
25 – Nearly 4,000 striking miners go back to work, leaving just over half of the miners on strike
3 – The miners’ strike ends after one year
7 – Two IRA members are jailed for 35 years for bombing campaign across London during 1981
11 – Mohammed Al Fayed buys the London-based department store company Harrods
13 – Rioting breaks out at the FA Cup quarter-final between Luton Town and Millwall at Kenilworth Road, Luton; hundreds of hooligans invade the pitch
16 – Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, seized and held in Lebanon Hostage Crisis
30 – Bernie Grant becomes the first black council leader for London Borough of Haringey
11 – Bradford City stadium fire, killing 56 and injuring at least 265
16 – Scientists of the British Antarctic Survey discover the ozone hole
31 – The Football Association bans all English football clubs from playing in Europe in response to the Heysel riots. Thatcher supports the ban and calls for judges to hand out stiffer sentences
1 – Battle of the Beanfield, Britain’s largest mass arrest which ended Stonehenge Free Festivals
6 – Birmingham unveils bid to host 1992 Summer Olympics and plans for new £66 million stadium
29 – Patrick Magee is charged with the murder of the people who died in the Brighton bombing
13 – Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia raise over £50m for famine relief in Ethiopia
22 – Manchester air disaster – 55 people are killed when Boeing 737 burst into flames
9 – Rioting, mostly motivated by racial tensions, breaks out in the Handsworth area of Birmingham
28 – A riot in Brixton erupts after accidental shooting of a woman by police
1 – Neil Kinnock makes a speech at the Labour Party Conference attacking the entryist militant group in Liverpool
1 – The Queen Mother commissions aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal
9 – The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive in USA to visit Ronald Reagan in Washington DC
15 – Anglo-Irish Agreement signed at Hillsborough Castle. Treasury Minister Ian Gow resigns in protest at the deal
22 – Mrs Thatcher is urged by her MPs to call a general election for June 1987, despite the deadline not being until June 1988
27 – Neil Kinnock suspends Liverpool District Labour Party amid allegations that the Trotskyist militant group was attempting to control it
28 – Gerard Hoarau, exiled political leader from the Seychelles, assassinated in London
25 – Charitable organisation Comic Relief is launched
Tags: 1985, events, file release