Thursday, 3 July 2008

Episode 52 - Catching up with the past

‘Are sure you don’t mind Liam?’

‘Ollie, I’ve told you it’s not a problem. I’m sure that we can spare you for a few hours. Anyway it’s about time you had a day off. Are you going somewhere special?’

‘No not at all, there are a few things I need to get done and I don’t want to leave them ‘till the weekend.’

‘Well as I say it’s no problem. Do you need a lift down to village?’

‘I’m taking the van thanks, thought I’d make the most of the day and get some provisions while I’m out.’

Ollie couldn’t believe how easily he had fitted into life at the farm. He was even getting used to Sophie’s rather different way of doing things. Cassy and Liam were so laid back but Sophie seemed to him to be a lot more organised. He wasn’t sure if she believed him when he told her that he was just a graduate bumming around Europe for a year. The way she looked at him sometimes made him feel that she was looking right through his story but that won’t matter soon, he thought, after this afternoon he didn’t care who knew his real reason for being here.

The campervan was sluggish with not be used for the past month, so Ollie took it slowly down the hill and coasted the last hundred meters before parking her beside the entrance to Los Vista.

Checking his clothes the best he could in the camper’s small mirror, Ollie locked the van doors and made his way around the pool area to Gloria’s villa. Everything looked so different in the daylight and he had to stop himself from walking up to the patio doors.

He had spent a sleepless night planning what he was going to say to his father’s birth mother. He didn’t want Gloria to think that he was doing all this on a whim, he had to explain to her why he needed to know about her so that he could understand himself better.

Nervously he made his way up the path and was about to knock on the door when it opened suddenly. There standing in the doorway was his grandmother. Gloria looked at him quizzically before asking ‘I saw you coming up the path, can I help you?’

‘This might seem a strange question but was your maiden name Feathers?’

‘Yes but I’m Gloria Westbury now, have been for over thirty years.’

‘Mrs Westbury my name is Oliver Cranford I think that you know my father Simon.’

Gloria clutched the doorframe ‘You’re Simon’s son?’

‘Yes Mrs Westbury and I think that you are my grandmother’

Gloria realised she was shaking as she beckoned the young man into her house ‘Please go through to the lounge’ she said opening the door for him.

‘I’m sorry if I‘ve given you a shock. I did try and phone you but I couldn’t find the words. I have been looking for you for so long I can’t believe I’ve really found you.’

‘Why, why would you want to find me? This all happened so long ago.’

‘All my life I have known that I didn’t quite fit in.’ Ollie explained ‘Nothing was quite right, my Grandfather was a good man but I never really felt that close to him, we were so different. He was a real man's man. Do you know what I mean?’ he asked, Gloria couldn’t speak and just nodded her head. ‘He loved his sport and his cars and was very proud of Dad but then after he died I found out that that he had left nothing to Dad in his will. Dad said he wasn’t surprised and he would have expected every thing to go to Grandma, but it still seemed strange to me and I always felt guilty that I didn’t love my Grandma enough.’ He laughed ‘she isn’t the easiest woman in the world to love but Dad is really good to her and tries his best to get down to see her as often as he can. Not that she appreciates it but that doesn’t stop him going.’

‘When did you find out about me?’ Asked Gloria when Ollie stopped to catch his breath

‘Not long ago. While I was at University I started looking, then just before I graduated I finally found your marriage certificate and discovered your married name.’

‘Does your father know you’re here?’

‘I wrote to him last night and explained that I had found you and that I was coming to see you today.’

‘But why now, why after all these years’ asked Gloria

‘Because I needed to know you. I felt like there was a piece missing from my life and I wanted to see if you could help fill in the blanks.’ He answered honestly

‘But didn’t you consider what I wanted?’ Gloria sobbed ‘Didn’t it occur to you that I mightn’t want reminding about the past?’

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t want to upset you but I had to meet you.’

‘Nobody here knows about the baby. You have to understand how it was then, it was a different age. My parents were horrified when they found out that I was pregnant. Can you imagine their shame? Here was their sixteen year old daughter all ready to start her A level courses and she announces that she’s pregnant.’ Gloria shuddered at the memory ‘My mother was so angry she smacked me across the face. I’ll never forget the sting of her hand on my cheek; it was as if all of her hate was behind that slap. My father just stood there crying, can you believe it, actual tears were running down his face. And that hurt more than any slap, his silent weeping was like a knife in my heart.’

‘Did they make you have my dad adopted?’

‘Oh yes, there was no option. I was far too gone for an abortion though I was still stupid enough to think that they would let me play happy families. Of course there was no chance of that. As soon as they realised who baby’s father was they forbid me to see him again. Dad went around to his family and told them that if he ever came near me, he would kill him. ‘

‘Where was your boyfriend from?’

‘Not far away we met at the church youth club. Oh I see what you mean with him being black? His parents had come over in the fifties from Barbados. Clifton had been born there and lived with his grandmother for a while but as soon as his parents had got enough money together they brought each of the children over to England one by one. It was a lovely family. He had two sisters and a brother. He was a lovely boy, he was so handsome and kind and a wonderful artist. That’s how we started going out together we were both in an art competition in the youth club.’ Gloria smiled at Ollie ‘You have a look about him. It’s around the eyes. Clifton had such beautiful eyes.’

‘Do you know what happened to him?’

‘I heard that he got married and had a family and eventually retired back to Barbados.’

‘Do you have any more children?’

‘No my love, after I gave birth to Simon there were complications. I’ve never been able to have any more children.’

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Yes so am I. My husband would have loved to have children. I’m just lucky he never insisted that we had the tests. You see Oliver, Malcolm doesn’t know about Simon. And after all these years I never want him to find out. Some secrets are best kept.’

‘But surely you want to see your son again?’

‘No, you don’t understand, I’ve answered all your questions but that’s it. I never want to see you again. I’m sorry but that’s way it’ll have to be. We can never meet again and Malcolm mustn’t ever find out.’