The Nights Are Longer Now, The Dreams Are Just The Same
Having never really had the time as a young kid to be able to remember my Grandad, I’ve only ever had the rare, brief recollections of Matt’s experiences relayed by my Grandma and it would always be a fleeting comment as very quickly that sadness would come over her and she’d have to change the subject. I was always aware that they were raw, painful memories and never felt that I should press her for more.
The one thing she would often mention though, as if to sum up everything, was that at the dockside in Liverpool on 23rd October 1945 (exactly 4 years after Matt sailed from the same port) desperately looking for her Husband she heard a frail voice behind her, “Edna”. It was Matt, she’d walked straight past him, not recognising this gaunt figure that now stood before her. Matt was a changed man. His son, now 8 years old, struggled to understand who this man was, calling himself his Father (Dennis was only 4 years old when he left).
My Dad very rarely speaks of this time in his childhood but he told me recently that the one thing he can never forget is the screams in the middle of the night from his Dad’s torturous nightmares. That breaks my heart.
Of course, as is common knowledge now, the mental health of these broken souls, as of those in WW1, wasn’t in any way addressed. They were told, maybe even ordered not to talk about their experiences when they got home and to carry on with their lives. They lived by a silent code.