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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Another Tale from the Islands

I was four years old and I saw tiny horses galloping over my bedspread. My mother put a cool hand on my head and announced that I had a temperature. Then I began to feel so ill I thought I was dying. Granny came in with a basin of water and bathed me. I was no longer in my cot, but in my parents' bed. At some time during my sleep the curtains had been closed, like they did when there was a death. I wanted my mam.
‘She’s gone away for a new baby,’ Granny told me.
I knew then, for certain, that I really was dying. Mam had already gone for my replacement. The curtains were already pulled in preparation. I started to cry and sank into another hot stupor.
I must have been very ill for about three weeks as, living on an island, mothers were taken to the mainland to have their babies. They left before their due date, especially during the months of winter when there was a possibility of being storm stuck. (this was November) Also, the lying in period after childbirth was two weeks.
I don’t remember much about having measles. I know now that both my brothers had been struck down at the same time. 
As well as running her own croft single handed, my granny had to look after three sick children and attend to the animals on my parents’ croft. 
My father had several other jobs on the island, and also spent time with my mother and new daughter on the mainland.
By the time my mother returned I felt a lot better, but was still kept in isolation in case my germs harmed the baby. I was only allowed to see her by standing at my bedroom door while an adult held her up in the doorway of another room at the end of the passageway.

Little flashes of memory forever ingrained on the mind.

My little sister and me on a day trip back to Stroma.

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