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A Shout From The Attic: Descent Into Light

...I asked where father was and Norina pointed to the heap of blankets.

Moving them aside, I saw a little old man with long grey hair and an untidy beard. He was drinking a bottle of spirits a day...

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. To read earlier chapters please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

Many years passed before I was to see Father again. Norina contacted me to ask me to visit. They were living in Sheepridge. Norina answered the door and led me in. There was a low cot bed in the living room in a dirty and dishevelled state. On the floor in the centre of the room was a heap of grey blankets. I asked where father was and Norina pointed to the heap of blankets.

Moving them aside, I saw a little old man with long grey hair and an untidy beard. He was drinking a bottle of spirits a day. Norina bought it from the local off-licence and he faced life through its haze. This had been going on for a long time. My brother George had no further dealings with father, and Norina did not know what to do for the best with him.

By this time, the ceiling had begun to come down on her. She was constantly in trouble for not sending Janet to school. Her excuse was that she needed Janet to look after her. Janet and father adored each other. Mutual dependence was the glue that held them all together in a triangular relationship.

Father had been receiving psychiatric help at various periods during his life. He had been under the care of Doctor Samuel Hughes at St Luke’s’ Hospital. As a former psychiatric nurse, I had come to know Doctor Hughes and enjoyed a pleasant relationship with him. I telephoned him and told him what I had found.

He arranged for me to take father to Storthes Hall Hospital and have him admitted. He told father that two more weeks of heavy drinking would have caused irreversible liver damage. Father got the message, had a hair cut, a beard trim and a change of heart, probably the only one he had had that made any lasting impression on him. He took the warning at face value and abandoned drink.

When he was released from hospital he was probably in the best condition he had been in for years. As far as I know he never touched the wicked brew again although his tobacco habit stayed. He was found a place at Hartley Grange on Keldregate, Bradley, and seemed settled into decent society. I was married to Lyn at this time, and she and I visited father fairly regularly.

During one visit, Father told Lyn the circumstances under which he made the acquaintance of my mother, who was seventeen at the time. He was perhaps two or three years older than her.


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