Who Am I? by Jane Leyland
Since she retired Jane has come across more and more stories of her forebears, and now regrets not asking more questions before it was too late. So she has decided to write up some of the stories of her life for her grandchildren, and maybe then she’ll tackle mother’s and her grandmother’s stories.
Who am I? I had expected to write that I was born towards the end of the War, as England was preparing for the invasion and troops were amassing along the South Coast. The Blackout and petrol restrictions were at their height. It was a most inconvenient time to be born.
But that wasn’t what I wrote.
I found myself writing; “‘Ann and Jane. Which one are you?’” I crossed it out and started again. But I wrote the same again, and a third time. “Ann’s the one who talks for both of us. I’m the quiet one, with fuzzy hair”.
So who am I? The doctor’s daughter? The younger sister? I wasn’t the boy my mother longed for, or the brother my sister thought I ought to be. For a while I hoped I was a boy. Boys seemed to have so much more fun, and my sister had told me that families had a mother, a father, a girl and a boy. But then my brother came along. So who was I?
The argumentative one? The rebel? The adventurous one? I didn’t fit my mother’s mould of what a young girl ought to be. Not like my sister. I escaped at the first opportunity and went to a University as far away from home as I could, and as removed from my middle class upbringing as possible. I wanted to see the world, and find out how other people lived.
So looking back now, who am I? A perfectionist and intrepid traveller - but not so intrepid any more. A wife, a mother, a grandmother; a teacher, a manager, and an editor; a gardener and a friend. Yes, all of those, and more.
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