I was telling someone at work yesterday “my story”. It sounds so dramatic as its normal to me but I guess I have been through the ringer a bit.
My Dad, Clive Page, was a hard working family man and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I had a very happy childhood. I was loved and happy. I was too young to realise but my Dad had an operation to have one of his kidneys removed as it was cancerous. I also have a memory of my Mum falling down the stairs when she had had a few too many wines at our next door neighbour’s house. They are childhood memories so they are not clear and I don’t remember being upset at the time about what had happened.
Anyway, skip 8 years after my Dads operation and hewould get annual checks to see that the cancer hadn’t returned. My Dad had just landed the best job of his career and he had even got a BMW as a company car. As a family, we couldn’t have been more proud. I remember coming home from school, off the bus, walking down the road and couldn’t find my keys. I remember trying to call Mum and Dad but no answer, so I waited outside the house, for what seemed like hours. What I didn’t know, was that something life changing for all of us, was happening at the hospital down the road. My Dad had gone in for his routine check, to find out that his body was riddled with cancer. I am only 15 at the time, going through my GCSE’s and understandably, my parents tried to shelter us from a lot of what was going on.
My Dad was given an operation to try to fix his cancer ridden bones so he would be able to walk again but other treatments were apparently futile.
Now to say I adored my Dad is an understatement. Someone once called me the female version of Clive Page and that made me so happy. I loved my Dad and we were very similar. But life is cruel and love cannot save people.
I scraped through my GCSE’s, with 5 B’s, 2 C’s and 3 D’s. I’m pretty proud of those results with everything that was happening. But my Dad was very pleased.
Dad became very ill, he visited hospices, and Mum looked after him, Mum drunk a bit. We were all scared; we didn’t want to talk about it.
It was November and I was working at a restaurant, where I had done my work experience, Browns in Bristol. And my Grandma died. She had been suffering from alzheimer for a long time and had passed away at a care home. I stopped visiting her when she stopped remembering who I was.
Dad died in the January.
At home, in our dining room downstairs, that had been converted into a hospice room. Dad had decided last minute that he wanted to be at home. We were all asleep or upstairs at the time.
I remember the nurse coming upstairs to my Mums room and I knew he had gone. I went downstairs with my favourite teddy, named after my Dad. And I said goodbye. I wasn’t hysterical, I was quiet and scared. I was scared that he was going to jump up and scare me. What a funny thing to think when someone has died?! He was still warm and I put my teddy on his chest to cuddle him. It’s pretty blurry after that but I remember my Grandpa coming over. My Grandpa was my world and the man I knew who would forever look out for me. I said I was going back to bed and going to sleep, and I remember him saying “back to bed?!” but that was my coping mechanism. Sleep. If I slept, then I didn’t have to deal with what was going on. I always had my curtains drawn as I didn’t want to know if it was day or night. But that day, I went to bed and heard noises outside. I looked out, to see them wheeling my Dad’s body, covered in black plastic sheeting, into a private ambulance.
I remember the grief was painful. It hurt my body. I cried until I choked and nearly suffocated on my tears. I cried until I could no longer breathe. I locked myself away and slept. For a long time.
My Grandpa then started to become unwell. The love of his life, Joan, had passed away. And he became ill, very quickly. We went to Spain for my Mums birthday in March, and when we came back, he was no longer the Grandpa I recognised. He had lost all his weight, he was frail and he was going. He went to a hospice and I remember being told that the time was near so I went in to see him. He talked me about not being scared and that the angels would look after him. I hugged and kissed him goodbye but again, was too scared to say “I love you”. I will forever regret not saying those words. He knew, but I wish I had said them. I was scared.
My Auntie had flown over from Spain to spend time with Grandpa; she had just got back to her house in Spain to be told to get back to the airport and on the next flight. She did and she just saw Grandpa before he passed. I vividly remember my Mum and Auntie coming home and they were laughing hysterically, I was so angry at them, how could they laugh at this time. But it was all too much for them.
I don’t remember really seeing my brother and I remember my Mum started to drink a lot after this.
My Mum’s business partner and close friend who lived across the road, Paul, had a fall in the bathroom. They took him to hospital; he had a brain aneurism and died.
You. Could. Not. Make. It. Up.
So I went to Spain. On and off to my Aunties hotel and helped out there and spent time as a family with my Auntie, Uncle and cousins. My Mum came over one of the trips and I sat down with my Uncle and Mum to see what I was going to do with my life.
I had been suffering horrendous panic attacks while trying to attend my sixth form and had failed my first year of A Levels because of it. So we decided that I would go back and complete my A Level’s but at City of Bristol College. I then completed my failed AS levels and the A Levels, all within one year. I passed with enough points, so I could go to university! I decided I wanted to study crime, as that was the one subject I loved. And decided on BA (Hons) Criminology and Sociology. I went the University of the West of England (UWE), as it meant that I didn’t have to leave home, as Mum was drinking so heavily that I needed to look after her. Within this period, we somehow managed to pack up our whole family home, and move to a flat in Clifton.
I met the love of my life, Joey, when I was at uni. He struggled with all that I came with and decided I was too much hard work after a month! I was heartbroken but pretended I was fine so I carried on going out and partying. The day he broke up with me, he broke his leg! I said it was karma! After 2 weeks of being in hospital and no contact from Joe. One of his colleagues from the shop he used to manage, came up to see me in the shop I was working in (Swarovski in the Mall) and said that Joe is embarrassed and wants me to visit. I asked my Mum to take me to the hospital, as I didn’t know the way and I was so nervous. Joe looked horrendous! He had broken his tibia and fibular bones and had had metal plates and pins put into his leg. But we became inseparable from that day and here we are, 10 years later!
My Mum drank for a long time and wasn’t shy on the amount she was drinking. But one day, for no apparent reason, she decided she had had enough and went to rehab for a month. We were able to visit her on the weekend and attend our own family counselling session before we saw her. It was the best thing she has ever done and I couldn’t be more proud of her recovery.
I remember being at school, and an expelled pupil turned up at the gates, threatening some people with violence because of some sort of dispute. I remember thinking at the time, why is he like that? He came from a very broken, unhappy, violent family. And I remember thinking that he uses that background as an excuse to fly off the rails. And I remember making a choice; that I would not use all these horrendous events as an excuse to go off the rails. I would use it to improve my life, to make my Dad proud and to get on with life.
My grief never goes away; it is always with me and can hit me at any points. I struggled with my wedding. I struggled being pregnant. And I struggled after the birth. I wanted my Dad there. I’m not proud of “my story”. I know there are a lot of people out there who go through horrendous times, that is life. But I am proud of myself, my family, my husband and my life. I had worked very hard to be where I am today and I haven’t been afraid to ask for help.
Big love always,
Hello! I'm Jess.
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