“Don’t give your uncle any trouble,” his father had said and, in an unusual display of affection, hugged him. “I’m doing this for you … because I love you.”
That was what Michael Reid remembered about the day his father dropped him off at the airport. The first time in his life his father had said, “I love you.” Most kids probably would have thought that their dad was trying to get rid of them. He knew his father was protecting him, helping him escape a home that was burning down around him. His mother’s mania was the worst it had been in years. He had the scar on his arm where she’d burned a cigarette that proved it and that had been, for his father, the final straw.
So, he was sent to live with his Uncle Clive in London. Wasn’t his blood uncle, because neither of his parents had siblings. But Clive Darling, who also served in the Persian Gulf where they’d met, was the closest thing his father had to a brother.
And Michael adapted quickly to life in the area known as St. John’s Wood. But, at fifteen, his biggest challenge was crossing the road safely. The signs painted on the street, to ‘Look Right’ or ‘Look Left’ had saved his life. Repeatedly. His school mates teased him about his accent, but he didn’t mind. Anything was better than locking himself in his room to escape his parents’ Olympic shouting matches. And while he was only supposed to be gone a year — to not have to watch his mother being involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment — he stayed long enough to complete his sixth form studies at Harris Academy. Did so well in school that his Uncle Clive convinced his father that he should remain to attend university, too. But the summer before he was set to begin at King’s College London, his mother committed suicide. He returned to Halifax for her funeral and, to his surprise, stayed. [Read more…] about Past Present Future