Kew-Gardens-August-1980By Wendy Hughes

Last week I promised to tell you about my mother’s determination to keep us together, despite becoming blind at the age of fifty-three in 1953.  You must remember that this was was a time when disabilities were treated very differently to today – see my article last week.

Mary Scott arrived just after 10am, and introduced herself.  Immediately my mother could sense the agitation and sharpness in the tone of her voice, and was dreading what she was going about to say about her plight.

‘Now before we go any further, ‘Miss Scott said with authority, ‘we have given your case a lot of thought and we’ve reached a decision that is the best for both of you.  We feel that your daughter should stay with her foster family until we can find suitable adoptive parents for her, and there is a place waiting for you at a lovely newly opened Blind Institution in Glamorgan.  You are really lucky as it has all facilities, so you can spend the rest of your life in luxury and not worry about your daughter.’

The only words that registered with my mother were adoptive parents, Blind Institution and lucky.  ‘Lucky she wanted to scream and order the woman out of HER home, but common sense prevailed.  This was the wrong way to go about it. Instead she took a deep breath and asked Miss Scott to watch her for a while, but not say a word until she had finished, then she would make them both a cup of tea and talk about it rationally.

My mother then went through her routine she had practiced since being home.  Walking to the back door, counting her steps in her mind, she turned and returned to her chair and sat for a minute before walking through the lounge and parlour and up the stairs to her bedroom, then turned and came back down the stairs to her chair.  Feeling for the drawer in the table she pulled out the tablecloth and slowly laid the table with cups, saucers and plates from the stone-shelved pantry and placed a homemade fruit cake in the middle of the table.  Miss Scott was astounded at her progress after only two days at home, but more importantly my mother had won her over, and a reprieve.  Miss Scott’s, voice changed completely as she felt only admiration for my mother as she watched her place the kettle on the open range fire and proceed to make a pot of tea.  Over tea and cake she told my mother she was impressed and to call her Mary. ‘I am sorry; said Mary, ’I’ve been too harsh, but I had to be certain your young daughter was safe.  Now I will return to the office and make a recommendation that you and your daughter remain together for a month.  At the end of the month you will receive a visit from the Welsh Board of Health and they will be the ones to decide your future.  If you impress half as much as you have impressed me, then you have nothing to worry about.  Now I am going to arrange for a home help to come in two hours a day to tidy up, do any shopping as well as collect your widow’s pension once a week.  It isn’t much, but only hours I can allow.

Next week I will recall that all important visit from the Welsh Board of Health, one which I can clearly remember to this day.

About Wendy Hughes

Wendy turned to writing, in 1989, when ill-health and poor vision forced her into early medical retirement. Since then she has published 26 nonfiction books, and over 2000 articles. Her work has appeared in magazines as diverse as The Lady, Funeral Service Journal, On the Road, 3rd Stone, Celtic Connections, Best of British, and Guiding magazine. She has a column in an America/Welsh newspaper for ex-pats on old traditions and customs in Wales. Her books include many on her native Wales, Anglesey Past and Present, The Story of Brecknock, Brecon, a pictorial History of the Town, Carmarthen, a History and Celebration and Tales of Old Glamorgan, and a book on Walton on Thames in the Images of England series, a company history and two books on the charity Hope Romania. She has also co-authored two story/activity books for children. Her latest books are: Haunted Worthing published in October 2010, a new colour edition of The Story of Pembrokeshire published in March 2011, and Shipwrecks of Sussex in June 2011 and Not a Guide to Worthing in 2014. She is working on a book entitled A-Z of Curious Sussex which will be published in 2016 Wendy also works with clients to bring their work up to publishable standard and is currently working on an autobiography with a lady that was married to a very famous 1940’s travel writer. Wendy has spent many years campaigning and writing on behalf of people affected by Stickler Syndrome, a progressive genetic connective tissue disorder from which she herself suffers. She founded the Stickler Syndrome Support Group and raises awareness of the condition amongst the medical profession, and produces the group’s literature, and has written the only book on the condition, Stickler The Elusive Syndrome, and has also contributed to a DVD on the condition, Stickler syndrome: Learning the Facts. She has also writing three novels, Sanctimonious Sin, a three generation saga set in Wales at the turn of the century, Power That Heal set in the Neolithic period entitled Powers that Heal, and a semi biographical book entitled New Beginnings which deals with two generations coping with blindness and a genetic condition. She has also had a handful of short stories published, and in her spare time is working on several at the moment. She also gives talks on a variety of subjects including Writing and Placing Articles, Writing Local History, Writing as Therapy, Writing your first novel, etc, and runs workshops on the craft of writing – both fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and a member of the Society of Authors.