Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's Two Years Ago...

Today since my Dad died. To mark the occasion and because someone I know has asked me to, I'm posting my Dad's life on here. Some of you will have read this stuff before so if you have, apologies and you may now leave! It's kinda long so I'll be doing it in sections, beginning here...

Samuel Shaw was born on 20th December 1947 in Bellshill Maternity Hospital. His parents were Catherine Gallacher Wilson and James Shaw.

The Beginning...

Catherine (known as Cathy) and James (known as Jimmy) worked together at the George Hotel in Glasgow. She was Barmaid he was a Hotel Porter. They fell in love (I assume) and lo and behold my Father was conceived. (yes I know there’s supposed to be a wedding first!) Of course back then being conceived out of wedlock raised a few eyebrows. Cathy and Jimmy married on 1st September 1947. Cathy was heavily pregnant. The marriage took place in the Catholic Chapel. (Heavily pregnant woman married in Catholic Chapel to a man who was Protestant... shocking eh? but it gets worse!!) Jimmy was 17 at the time. Cathy was a more respectable 28. (Told you it gets worse...heavily pregnant 28 year old marrying a 17 year old boy in the Chapel?????!!!) God love her though Cathy tried to make it look better by lying about her age and claiming to be only 24. Anyhow shortly after they married along came their baby boy Samuel. Following his birth he was very ill and his weight fell dramatically due to him being unable to feed and suffering from bronchitis (Anyone else hear an alarm bell ringing??) Following Sam’s birth the family lived a blissful existence if you believe my Grandpa.

One Parent Family...

Sadly though Cathy suffered poor health having had chronic bronchitis and asthma from an early age and also a severe bout of TB in her teens, her immune system was weakened and she died from respiratory failure when Sam was only 5 years old. (respiratory failure? I can hear alarm bells again!). Cathy was just 34. Although even in death she lied about her age! It states on her death certificate that she was 32.

Anyway after Cathy's sad death Jimmy hit the bottle a bit and Sam was packed off to live with Cathy's folks. Here he lived alongside Jim Wilson, Cathy's Nephew and Sam's cousin. Jim was Cathy's sister May's Son (are you following this?) the two boys shared a lot in common Jim was also conceived out of wedlock and he also had only one parent on the scene. (Their Father must have been very proud of those Wilson girls eh? Jesus this was in the forties!!) Sam and Jim formed a friendship that was deeper than just being cousins. In fact the bond was so strong that the pair looked upon each other as Brothers. There were rumours this might have been the case but my Grandpa staetd he was not Jim's Dad even though he did admit to sleeping with his Mother!!

Meanwhile back in Glasgow Jimmy had sobered up and had returned to work. He had also met a new Girlfriend Marion. Marion was a divorcee with 4 children all of whom were in foster or care homes. She had suffered a mental breakdown and had spent periods in a psychiatric hospital receiving treatment for severe depression. Marion was an attractive woman and from all accounts once she had her sights set on Jimmy he didn’t stand a chance. Anyway they moved in together and were eventually married some years later in 1960.

Back in Sam’s life things were changing as well. Sam can recall his Dad visiting him fairly regularly during his stay with Cathy’s folks despite being back on his feet though Jimmy did not take Sam home. Cathy’s folks though were struggling to keep Sam. Both were getting on and both had their own health problems. Sam was a poorly child at times, skinny and pale and it was discovered that he was suffering from malnutrition. Eventually the decision was made to move Sam. Sam wasn’t taken to live with Jimmy though. He spent a period of time with Jimmy’s folks, Samuel and Rebecca (Becky). With Jimmy again being just a visitor.

Only Child To One Of Five…

Jimmy decided that Marion’s kids should be taken out of care and given a proper home with him and Marion. (Strange decision for a man who couldn’t find time for his own Son) and set about getting them back. Part of this process was that Jimmy and Marion had to prove they could provide a suitable home and stable environment for the children. This was where Sam became useful. Sam was returned to Glasgow for the visits from the officials in a bid to prove Jimmy and Marion were competent parents.

Eventually Sam was removed from Sam and Becky’s back to Glasgow full time. He had often expressed how he hated this happening. He loved Becky like a Mother and missed her when he was taken away. He had received love and a proper home in her care. It’s fair to say there was little love lost between Marion and Sam during this time. He was made to call her Mum. (Which he did not agree with) and Marion made it clear that she did not fully accept him. (Hardly surprising really as she found it difficult to accept her own kids). Soon enough Marion and Jimmy were given the all clear to have Marion’s children come to live with them. Sam went (literally overnight) from being an only child to sharing his house, bed and Father with 4 other children. It was a difficult adjustment not only for Sam but for the other 4 as well. By this time Sam was 13. Suddenly he had 2 older Brothers in the form of Billy (16) & George (14) and 2 younger siblings Ronnie (12) and Emma (10). Emma had never lived with her Mum. She had been raised by another family for 8 years. Ronnie was 2 when he went into care. Billy and George had vague memories of their Mum. Sam had some health problems round this time as well. He was hospitalised with pnuemonia and underwent surgery for a bowel problem. Sam never mentioned this spell in hospital to any of us and it was only after his death it came to light. Medical records show the hospitalisation occured but the records have been kept confidential as "they contain sensitive information which involves the actions of others and names of others involved in the incident"...what the reason for this is and what that means is anyone's guess.

Fate would have it that all the kids were dark haired and that Sam slipped right into the middle age wise. Although Sam grew fond of all his new siblings in time forming close relationships in those early years with both Ronnie and Emma he never felt settled in Glasgow with Jimmy and Marion and never managed to feel part of the family. He always felt like the outsider and this was mainly down to Marion’s attitude to him and the constant references to him being Jimmy’s Son. Sam still longed to be back with his Granny Becky where he had felt wanted and loved.

And so ends chapter one.

Jenny xx

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