As a child I can remember once sitting on her lap in the lounge room, before Mum burnt it down. She had soft and wrinkly hands and a marquasite ring. Sitting and twiddling her thumbs is one of the two memories I have of being snuggled. This memory is nice and soft and safe.
She was born Eileen several more catholic names Deane, on the River Murray in Victoria, to obviously Irish Catholic parents. Paddy Dean, her dad, according to legend was Irish as they come, with that wonderful gift the capacity to laugh at their own Irishness. (Irishness being defined by the multitude of ridiculous accidents combined with a generally incomprehensible ability to make a joke out of it all).
They lived a long way from us, 12 hours drive, so from about the age three we didn’t get to see them much. She used to visit, do the ironing, give us little treats and have me run messages to her husband (my Pop). He would come back with things like ‘Tell that Irish Biddy Goat to shutup’; hence the name Biddy.
She used to tell a story of a neighbour she knew who had a disabled child. Biddy said she would talk with her over the fence. Biddy knew that there was something wrong, the babies tongue protruded from its mouth, it could not sit up properly. The story went that the lady never knew the baby was ‘sick’ but Biddy did. Eventually some one came and took the baby away.
Many years later, after Biddy died, I was told about a disabled daughter that she gave birth to before she was married, way before WWII. The daughter was placed in an institution.
My youngest sister and I never knew about this until the daughter died too, at the age of 66. She spent here entire life institutionalised. Not long after the Victorian government decided that institutions were to be made obsolete she was placed in some other ‘caring environment’ and drowned in her own urine.
When I woke up at 4.00 o’clock this morning, it suddenly became clear. The neighbours child Nanna would talk about was her baby. Glad the impaler came clean about this when a lawyer, who had an inheritance from the dead sister, contacted her.
It was devastating, and pretty much the last straw for me, when I discovered that the others all knew about this poor woman. Not one of them visited, no one spoke of it until they could see some chching chching. Sick fucks.
HRH Marcia and I think that when Pop Galvin died 30 years ago, he must have set up a small trust, they would have known then I am sure. The others (brother and sisters) claimed they thought it was some moneygrubber after their inheritances, cough.
After all how can you spend your entire life totally alone in a nut farm, drown in your own urine, be abandoned by your family and still have a couple of bucks left over? Beats me.
I feel so sorry for Biddy, having to keep that secret all her life. The people that knew could have helped, but they did nothing. After Biddy died, my brothers and sisters knew. Marcia and I, the only ones that would have forced action, where not surprisingly were left out of the loop. ‘Oooooo, didn’t you know about the sister?
And now it is way too late. So I am going to write it all down. The two special lives that were lived and forgotten. When I get better I want to go and visit the grave and her places, read the reports hidden in dusty boxes and put her babies life together.
Biddy died in a nursing home. Remembering one Christmas asking the Impaler if she was heading down to Portland, the reply ‘the nurses will stick up balloons and stuff’.
Biddy never liked drunks much; her husband, my Pop, was an alcoholic (came back from the War that way) but eventually joined AA (that is another story).
The Impaler never liked having ‘her style’ cramped eg having Biddy hide beer bottles from the rubbish man. So of course leaving all her victims (read as family) behind to visit a dying Mother in a nursing home for Christmas was not on the top of her pops list. Of course Biddy being Biddy, would know a social drinker from a drunk, so that underlies the Impaler’s reticence to visit.
There where never any bad vibes coming off Biddy. She just was. Even after as a weenie I climbed a stack of cushions to eat up all of her blood pressure tablets, she still seemed to like me. The impaler now says ‘She always was strange’. Strange must mean she just wasn’t a big enough bitch.
Poor Biddy a victim of her birth time. Sadly they took the wrong baby away.