Eight years older than her younger sister Pamela, known as Pam, Bessie always felt that Pam would copy anything she did. It was Bessie who first started making the weekly trips to Alconbury but, before long, Pam was following suit.
Whilst writing this story and thinking about the people involved, the stories I have been told and any memories that I have, it has struck me very harshly and with an immense deal of sadness, the realisation that of all the people involved in my life, the person I know the least about is my natural mother Pam.
Bessie has told me as much as she is able but she and Pam were never close due to the eight year age gap, their very differing personalities and the fact that they did not mix in the same groups of friends.
Bessie left for the USA when Pam was only twenty an although she made several trips back to the UK, their time together was limited and the trips would be some years apart. Compared to today, communications systems were limited to writing letters and the occasional costly phone call.
It causes me great sadness that I was never to meet Pam as she died in strange circumstances in 1980. There are very few photos of her but the ones that I have seen show us to be similar in looks, fair haired, slightly taller, slimmer and big busted. I also inherited her prominent nose and her fondness for the odd Gin and tonic or two! It would also seem that we are also more similar in personality, quieter and less forceful. This is one of the areas that forces me to question the ‘nature or nurture’ debate. Was I born this way, or is it a result of my upbringing; the constant suppression of any attempts to express an opinion, to defend an argument and the physical repercussions if I persisted in trying?
Much of what I was told about Pam when I was growing up was, to say the least, unkind, uncomplimentary and at times cruel. Unfortunately it has to be said that a fair amount of the stories held some truths. In my head I hear the facts and know that I have to face them, but deep within my heart I feel that I almost need to speak for her, to justify her actions at that time and the circumstances that led to them. Perhaps this comes from the fact that she hasn’t been able to speak up for herself, to tell me how she felt, had she loved me and if she had regretted giving me up.
Truthfully though, I am forced to admit that I think it is more a desire within me to see my beginnings with a more romantic glow, through rose tinted glasses, ignoring some of the unpleasant, glaring truths.