My Family: Aunt Rosie, A Secret A Tragedy (1).
I Found The Truth In The End.
My mothers name was Violet, she had four sisters, their names were Alice, May, Lily and Rose. This is the story of Rose truly a free spirit. Rose was born in 1910, she grew up with the rest of the family living a normal life just like her brothers and sisters, her brothers were George and William. Along came the Second World War in 1939, all were gainfully employed until Rose met Ron, a Petty Officer who was in the Royal Navy. It was still war time but they managed to see each other on a regular basis. Then the call came for Ron to move to a naval base in the South of England and Rose went with him.
The Family Ties Are Broken.
Remember there was no such things as cell phones or computers, people did not generally have telephones in their homes, besides it was war time and communications were difficult at any time. I mention this because nothing was heard from Rose for almost two years. One morning my mother received a letter. Rose told her that she had left Ron, he had been awful to her and her words were 'he used to knock me about' She said that she was alright and had gained a position working as a maid in a house in Stoke. Rose also said 'the people here are very kind to me' Stoke is a town in the Midlands of England. She also said that she was now in touch with her friend Nora, who worked in an office so she could ring her with any news. Nora had said she would pop round to see my mum with any news or messages.
Another year or so went by. Then one evening Nora called to see my mother. She told her that about a year ago Ron had arrived to see Rose. He said he was sorry for his previous behaviour and pleaded with her to take him back. One must remember here that Rose was alone and whatever her reasons she took him back.
Things become unclear here but it seems within a short time Rose had left her proper secure employment. She and Ron had taken a flat / apartment in an old house in a different part of town. Rose had told Nora not to let my mother know, until she felt that all would be well with Ron. Well all was not well with Ron, he returned to his 'old ways' and again he was called to other duties. This time Rose would not go with him and they parted again. After he had gone Rose found herself to be pregnant, alone, unemployed and with the rent to pay.
A Desperate Visit From Nora.
I now come to the reason for Nora's visit, she had called without telling Rose of her intention. Rose had called her that afternoon and told her she had to leave the flat. She had very little money and had nowhere to go. Nora had told her that she must come home but for the shame of her situation she refused. She told Nora that she was leaving the next afternoon for London. Somehow she had the address of a 'home for unmarried mothers' In those days this would be a charitable institution with only the very basic living standards. To her eternal credit Nora could not let this go unreported. My mother and father were heartbroken.They tried to let other family members know as best they could. Fortunately Nora had Rose's address in Stoke. There was no way that Rose was going to such a place no matter what her situation. They resolved to drive to Stoke early the next morning. Nora told them they were not going without her so she stayed overnight.
They set off for Stoke the next morning. Expecting to see Rose on their arrival, they knocked on the door. The Landlord and his wife answered the door, they said that Rose had left on foot an hour earlier, she was carrying a small suitcase and two bags. They were then directed to the Railway Station and set off. One can only imagine their feelings at this time, although the train wasn't due until later in the afternoon, they parked and dashed into the Station. There was only one platform and a few people standing around. Then they saw the pregnant young woman, she was sat near the far end of the platform and she had a small suitcase and two bags.
I don't know what was said, I know there were tears then smiles and a drive back to Manchester. I know that Rose gave birth to a boy and he was named Peter. I know that they stayed within the family group for a period of time and I know that one day Ron came back and she was gone. She said she wanted to give it another go so that Peter would have his Dad. She hoped having a child would change Ron, I don't know if it did or not.
A Knock At The Door Brings Terrible News.
I do know that one weekend Ron arrived at our front door. My mother let him in, he asked her to sit down. My mother sat down and Ron's words were ' I'm sorry to tell you this Violet, but Rose is dead ' I don't know what my mum said to him in return. He said that Peter would be staying with him and that he would keep in touch. To my knowledge we never saw either of them again.
Throughout my life I asked my mother what happened to auntie Rosie, it brought a tear and sadness. So I learned that it was better to let things rest. My mother never spoke of her, my aunts and uncles over the years were asked but to no avail. Today a person might push the point and eventually find out. In those days things were very different. I don't think there was any shame in their not telling, I truly believe that the pain was too much to bear.
In my family photograph album is a black and white photograph of Rose, until the day my mother died this photograph stood in a frame on a sideboard in my mothers house. When I look at it now, I see a lovely young woman with blonde hair and a lovely smile. Her name was Rosie Ball and she was beautiful.
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© 2012 Graham Lee