Articles, People

The Day I Found a Dead Body

My mother was fearless. She had a strong sense of injustice. If something was wrong, she would put it right, or put people right.

One day I remember her telling me how she was walking passed the park when she heard a crowd chanting. She went in to find boys gathered and encircling two who were fighting in the centre. Immediately, she pushed through them and told them to stop, and go home, all of them, right now. They all dispersed with a few grumbles. I admired her, not many would day to do that even back then in the seventies.

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In my late teens, on my way to work, I found a dead body. I wasn’t very far from home. I caught sight of rags laying in the bushes. When I looked properly, I saw it was the body of a man; dirty and bedraggled with matted hair. In my mind he looked like he had been there a long time. I froze and stared. I wanted to prod him, just in case, but couldn’t bring myself to touch him. So, I ran home, “Mum, Mum! Mum!”

She walked back with me, my brave mother. She always knew what to do, who to call, and I suppose, check he was actually dead in the first place.

Leaning over the body, she prodded him with her finger, “Are you all right?” To my surprise, the man woke up.

“Oh aye,” he said, “I’m fine, just having a kip.” I realised then, he stunk of alcohol.

I wish I could have been like her, always sure of herself and good at getting the best out of people.

Mum was a foster parent, and Social Services would ring to say they had a child who was disruptive and naughty and couldn’t be placed. Mum would say, pass them over, and within a short space of time that child was going to bed at seven pm every night, and although never perfect, they fitted into the household as any child would. Nothing phased her.

She believed that children needed a routine, needed love, and to believe they are important. She always gave them that, as she did us.

She passed away in 2010, in her seventy fifth year, still fostering till the last.

This was mum in 1977, doing what she loved.

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