What is the reason? Where did it all go wrong? Was the going wrong necessary, so that things could go right again later? Here, Christine pulls apart the past, looking for the big clue, the fateful gene. Happily, her story ends with hope and a measure of peace.
Where to begin? 7 years ago my dad died, he was 66, an old-fashioned guy dropped dead at home, he had lung cancer, liver cancer and lymph cancer - nobody knew. My dad knew but he didn't tell anyone, he had nursed his own dad. I were devastated my dad were gone.
My brother was 50 when he died. After me dad died my brother couldn't cope on his own, so I had him at mine. He had OCD, drove me mad. He had demons, he was in a children's home in the 1970s. Years later police came knocking at the door, in the 90s, but my brother didn't want to go to court because of the shame of what happened to him. He did nothing wrong. A big paedophile ring.
So he lived with me, my husband and stepson, his girlfriend stayed at the weekend with the baby. He started with headaches February 2013, eventually had a scan - was sick but they sent him home. A headache 24/7. "My hearing is going a bit." He started tremors, started dropping things, went downhill. Doctors came out. One eye went one way or the other eye went the other way. 30th May admitted into hospital with hallucinations, seeing angels, seeing children.
It's called malignant meningitis, later they found a carcinoma eating his brain but not the original cancer - they also thought he had CJD. It was the care and attitude of the hospital that's the problem they tried to treat him for methanol poisoning he wasn't even drinking. Cos they suspected alcoholism. He didn't know how to walk, eat, he had gone incontinent, he had seizures, he'd lost every cognitive skill going. It's what it did to him, me sister and husband. How they treated him weren't nice. When he got admitted it took nine days for a doctor to see him. He was so frightened, crying. He thought he'd be home in a couple of weeks.
Me brother was in hospital 5 1/2 weeks, I've never watched someone disappear completely before. We knew he was going. I watched the machines watched them counting down then he was gone it's just a shell now then I went out and broke my heart.
Me husband thought Tommy held us together and tied us. Maybe he was right.
|Christine working on her concertina book|
We had decided to move to Poole to help my husband's mum and brother, she had dementia and he had alcoholism. It was a new start but it didn't work out because of family pressure. His ex gave him sanctuary. My brother in law went to hit me, but my husband stopped him, he said she hasn't done anything wrong and I hadn't. I felt embarrassed being at his mum's stayed there till July 28, 2014. Phoned me son he picked me up and I was back in Stockport later that day. They didn't class me homeless because it was a private house. Came up here, put myself on the housing. It's cramped, my son's protective, but I need freedom - he rings me constantly. I've never interfered in their lives and that's all I want. I've got a boyfriend down South, that's how I like it.
Don't get me wrong I was gutted to lose my home but it's not the end of the world it's just possessions that's why I came back here, to be with family. My new place it feels good: one bedroom, living room, it's my own, I can do whatever I want. And at the end of the day my stepson loves me again, I'm not the wicked witch anymore.
|Christine's folded book|
Now I'm onto the new chapter I don't need to keep the old, I need to let go of dad, my brother, I've got me good memories, the door is closing on stuff. I'm moving on. Closure on me marriage, lots of other things. From 1979 when I had me daughter I've always had someone there. Now I don't it's nice to have the freedom and I just take me into consideration, whether it's good for me or not. I want to get back to that Christine who I used to be years ago. It's been here for such a long time. Life is for living and enjoying now.
Interview with Lois and Phil at The Wellspring March 2015. The Homeless Library is a project devised by arthur+martha to document the heritage of homelessness using interviews, artworks, poetry. It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.