IMAGINE THIS Growing up with my brother John Lennon – a Book Review
It’s no secret that I’m a huge John Lennon fan. When I saw this title, written by Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, I had to have it. Check out the photo on the back cover. Is she not John in feminine form? There’s no doubt she is who she says she is.
Wait until you read the book. Only a sister could pen the emotional pain that the Lennon children were subjected to. That pain has driven all of them throughout their lives.
Julia carries on despite having suffered so many losses in her life. You’ll learn how she turned that pain around and now works with troubled adolescents.
John tried to carry on, but Mark David Chapman snipped his search for personal peace when he was just forty years into his journey.
This is not about John Lennon’s death, but about his life, as told by his sister Julia Baird.
John Lennon was a brother
Long before he became a star, John Lennon was a brother. He was the first born child of Julia Stanley and Alfred “Alf” Lennon, birth date: October 9, 1940. Birthplace: Liverpool, England.
Julia came third (March 5th 1947), when mom Julia hooked up with John “Bobby” Dykins. Sister Jacqueline “Jackie” entered the world in 1949.
It wasn’t until John and most of the family had died that it was discovered there was a child born between John and Julia, the result of an affair their mother had while John’s dad was away at sea. Her name was Victoria, mother Julia’s favorite female name. However, she was forced to give her baby girl up by her stringent family. Julia Baird didn’t learn of Victoria’s existence until after John’s death; that she, John and Jackie had another sister. She was renamed Ingrid by her adopted family. John never knew.
John was taken from his mother when he was only five years old and forced to live with one of Julia’s older sisters, Mimi. She and the rest of the Stanley family were very strict, never accepting of Julia’s free spirit. This devastated John and Julia. John remembers his mom as being a musical soul who loved to dance and sing. In fact, she taught him to play the banjo. Her favorite singer was Elvis Presley, whom John would later have the honor of meeting once The Beatles hit fame.
Young John Lennon resented being kept from his mom and sister. He often skipped school to sneak visits behind Mimi’s back.
Life was tough.
John grew up striving for acceptance by his extended family; even more so when Julia was struck by a car and killed. John, (sister) Julia, and Jackie were not told that their mother was dead. They were never invited to her funeral. In fact, it wasn’t until sister Julia’s daughter thought to look up her grandmother’s burial plot under the name of Julia Lennon that the girls were ever able to visit the gravesite; they had no idea where she was buried. Julia looked for years, assuming Mom’s burial site was under the name of Julia Dykins. After Mom’s resting place was discovered, Julia was saddened that there was no headstone – just a ceramic cat and lots of weeds.
John never got to pay his respects.
Julia Baird talks about her mother, Alf Lennon, and brother John
An emotional plea by John Lennon
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Julia Baird gives us a naked look into the life of John Lennon and his siblings. Very little is about The Beatles. Yes, we get a behind-the-scenes look into how they came to be, but this book is about John Lennon, the person. The human being. His love for family and how it affected him when family was taken away. It explains why he succumbed to Yoko’s ruling nature. He needed a mother figure and she was that. Whether or not he realized it will never be known. However, she defined and outlined his every movement.
John was a lost boy who needed to be found, but his family- his sister Julia- never gave up on him.
It would be twenty some-odd years after his death that it was discovered Yoko was instrumental in keeping John’s roots from nurturing his life. Baird’s book goes into detail about the control Yoko had over not only John, but the entire family.
Towards the end of this interview, Julian Lennon speaks of his father and a message received after his death
History repeats itself
Cars killed too many members of the Lennon clan. It all started with John and Julia’s mom being hit by a car while walking to the bus stop after a visit with John. She was never to be seen again. And John and Julia weren’t to know of their mother’s demise until sometime later. It was hidden from them. Why? They weren’t told the truth. They weren’t invited to the funeral. And they weren’t allowed to grieve.
Why? Why was mother Julia’s life not afforded the memories of the only three people on Earth who saw her as an inspiration rather than a disgrace to the family? Julia loved her children more than life itself. It’s a pity her father and sisters made it their mission to keep them apart.
And later, Yoko did the same, unbeknownst to John.
Ironically, John would eventually forsake his own first born son, Julian. Once Yoko came into the picture, very little contact was shared between John and Julian (named after John’s beloved mother), then dwindled to nothing. Years passed before Julian once again became a part of his father’s life.
After Sean was born in 1975, all communication between John and his sisters came to a sad halt. Then, the day before John Lennon was killed he contacted Julia to inform her he’d be traveling to England to spend some time with his siblings in the New Year. He missed his family and wanted to come home. But it wasn’t to be. The family was torn apart once again – this time forever.
A must-read in my opinion
John Lennon’s legacy lives on
John Lennon’s music lives on to inspire us. He has a place in our hearts and will never be forgotten. Imagine This brings the reader into the life of a little Liverpudlian boy who had big dreams and even bigger demons.
Although Julia Baird’s book is about growing up with John Lennon, it’s dedicated to their mother. John would have appreciated that. In his own words, “I lost my mother twice: once as a child of five and then again at seventeen. It made me very, very bitter inside. I had just begun to establish a relationship with her when she was killed. We’d caught up on so much in just a few short years. We could communicate. We got on.” (It sends shivers up my spine to know that Julian lost his dad when he was seventeen, shortly after they reunited, as well.)
If you’re a fan of John Lennon, do yourself a favor and read IMAGINE THIS Growing up with my brother John Lennon. You’ll see a side of John that the media never brought to our attention. The book includes several pages of photographs of John as a child, through The Beatles years. You’ll come face to face with his siblings and the aunt who made it her mission to keep the children and their mother apart. You’ll learn of the strength that is borne of struggle. You’ll be surprised. You’ll get angry. And you’ll cry.
In the end, you’ll love him even more.
Rest in peace, John Lennon. May you and your beloved mother continue to dance and make music for the angels to enjoy.
We miss you.
Shauna L Bowling
All Rights Reserved
© 2015 Shauna L Bowling
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