diary · family · Health · History · women

Nan’s Diary: Raising lost voices

The clapboard houses built in Napoleons times. The house nearest the camera was the Betts house. These were demolished to make way for the Old Town by-pass (King Offa Way) in Bexhill.

One of the most interesting things I have found when looking back through my Nan’s memoirs is the mentions of other women that flit in and out of the story. This excerpt in particular made me stop and think:

‘At the bottom of the path and on the other side of Belle Hill, there were two unusual houses, tall and thin, which had been built of clapboard at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. They were built on a small area of ground (reminiscent of the net houses in Hastings) and in one of them lived the Betts family – Marie, Fred and their four children, Marie, David, Angela and Susan. How they all squeezed in, I don’t know, but the place was always welcoming and the children would often cross the road and visit each other’s places and play.

Just before we went to South Africa in 1962, Marie had ovarian cysts removed and I am sure she knew her days were numbered because when she said goodbye to us before we left, she said, “I hope I’ll see you when you come back,” and she walked away with tears in her eyes.

She was still alive (just) when I returned and almost the first person I saw when I got back was Fred, asking if I would go and see Marie as she hadn’t got long to live and was asking to see me. Marie died a few days later and I lost a good friend.’

It made me realise that people often say ‘oh, we seem to suffer much more with this and that nowadays,’ particularly when talking about women’s health but in reality, the reason that issues weren’t talked about as much in the past was that those women died, and their voices were lost forever. So it makes it even more important that we listen to women now.


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