This is the second of a two-part account of Joy’s story; to read the first part, about how her family broke up, click here.
One of the staff told me that Dad was selling the house and took me to see if there was anything I wanted – toys, or clothes, or anything. I just asked for some photos. Dad looked through some with me and we decided which ones I should have. There was nothing else that fitted me, or any toys that weren’t broken.
Dad said he was going back to the lorries, and going to live with his mother in Scotland.
“Can’t I come to Gran’s house with you, Dad?” I wanted to know. It was a long time before I understood his answer. He said, “Trouble is, Joy, we’re not sure if she is your Gran, so she doesn’t want you there just now”.
Then I asked him where Terry was and if he was going to Gran’s. He said he had gone to another family, where people really wanted him and would look after him. Finally I told Dad what had happened, to try to make him see that I wanted Terry and had already been looking after him for ages.
Dad walked away from me and spent a long time looking out at the garden, although it wasn’t much to look at, since neither Mum nor Dad had really looked after it.
When he turned back to me he looked so sad I started to cry. He said he would make sure I got to see Terry often and that he would come and visit me whenever he could. Of course neither of these things happened.
One day one of the staff said I was going to see Terry, but on the way there she explained this was for the last time because the people he was with wanted to keep him for themselves for ever and did not want him to know me, or Dad, or Mum.
Seeing him in his new home was unbearable. I wanted to hug him tight and run off with him, or perhaps stay with this new family as well. I smiled at the ‘mother’ and said, “Please can I live here too? I know how to take care of Terry and will help you lots. I am used to helping my Mum”. She frowned and said, “Time to go I think”, and that was it.
I never saw Terry again, so far as I know. I suppose he might have been with one of those families on the beach one time, but although I looked, I couldn’t remember what he looked like and any way he’d be a lot older. Of course he would never recognise me now and probably doesn’t even know he ever had a sister. Who would tell him?
Dad came a few times over the years, but in the end he came to tell me he was going to go and live in Australia. By now I knew it was no good smiling nicely at people and asking to go and live with them. I had tried it so often, that the staff used to warn me not to speak to people who came to the home for meetings about me. So even when they asked me if I wanted to say anything I just shook my head.
Dad wrote sometimes and usually sent things for Christmas and my birthdays, but after my second move that stopped. I think he just didn’t know where I was any more. I don’t think he would be very pleased with me if he found me now.
In the family I went to, I met their son Garry. He was at college, which was why they had offered to have me to look after. Most of the time he was away, but I always remember the first time he came home. He seemed so tall and fit by contrast with all the weedy lads in the homes. He was quite good looking and he smelled wonderful. Although he didn’t use baby powder, smelling his cologne, or whatever it was, reminded me of Terry. He was always so good to be near. Not like most people.
He was all smiles to me and called me his ‘little sis’. Of course his parents thought he was an angel and they were so good to me, which was why I thought whatever he wanted, I should do. I still had not caught up at school and certainly did not know much about PSE. I just knew I wanted to be with him, be near him, enjoy the smell of him and please him.
At last I had somebody who seemed to like me and I wanted to hold on tight.
After his break from uni he went back again and I heard no more from him until his next holiday. This time he went out several times with his old school friends who were normally away at different universities, but were all at home together this time. Sometimes he took me along if they went to the cinema, but usually they went to the pubs or clubs and I was too young to go, and in any case I had never drunk any alcohol and had nothing suitable to wear.
He still called me ‘little sis’ and always treated me like I thought a brother would. Until the night he came home drunk and his parents were out. I thought I was all alone in the house, until I stepped out of the shower and found him swaying in the bathroom doorway. I grabbed the towel, but it was already too late. He had seen his little sis with no clothes on and the drink had been too strong for him.
He was kind and gentle, at least at first. I really had no idea what was happening. It just felt warm and comforting. I felt like I belonged and I wanted to hold on to him forever. But all too soon he was getting up, pulling away from me, leaving me cold and wet on the bathroom floor.
As he stood swaying in the doorway he muttered over his shoulder, “This never happened. Right? And if you ever think of telling anybody, remember they’ll believe me, not you”. Then he was gone. I cleaned myself up and tidied the bathroom and went to bed. Next morning his mother was upset when he announced he had changed his plans and was going back to college to get some work done. He never looked at me or spoke to me.
A tummy bug
A few weeks later my foster mother asked if I had anything to tell her. At first I smiled, thinking that somehow she knew and was happy Garry was my boy friend. But she didn’t look happy, so I decided to keep quiet, like he said. When I said I had nothing to tell her, she asked about my periods. They were always irregular, so I never really thought about it, but she had noticed I was being sick in the morning. I had not thought it meant any more than I had a tummy bug, which they said was going around.
But before I knew what was happening we were at the doctors doing tests, going to the hospital and they said I was pregnant. Of course Garry’s Mum was mad at me. She kept on about who had I been with and where and when.
Of course she wanted to know, because apart from Garry and his friends that holiday time, I scarcely ever went out. I was trying to catch up at school, so I stayed in and read, or worked on their computer most nights if they let me. Perhaps she was suspicious, or just curious. I suppose I’ll never know, because as soon as she could, she got me moved on to a mother and baby home.
She came to visit a few times, but made it clear my time with her family was over. Neither of us mentioned Garry.
The nurses changed shifts and a more sympathetic one came to look after me. She held my hand, stroked my forehead, smoothed my hair. More big waves of pain came crashing in and then at last the nurse said, “You have a lovely baby boy, my dear. Have you thought of a name?”
I sighed and said, “Yes. It’s Terry.”
Now for a while I will have someone to love, who will love me, need me and stay with me. So long as I can look after him properly.
The foster parents came to see me the day after Terry was born. I think they were both relieved when I said I had named him after the baby brother I once had. Then they were full of news about Garry and his girl friend he had met at uni in his first term. I closed my eyes and pretended I was tired. Soon they left. But now I had Terry. For a while I could be sure of someone who would love me.
I could at last live up to my name – Joy – which is what my Dad said he and Mum felt when I was born and they named me.