forworse (forworse) wrote in binky_betsy,
forworse
forworse
binky_betsy

A letter from England

To whom it may concern

My name is Phyllis Dillon, née Barclay.  I believe that you have been hearing regularly from my niece Elly and from members of her family.  I would like to add a few notes if I may, which I trust will add to your understanding.

Like my sisters, I was raised in British Columbia, Canada.  Marian, my elder sister, came to England during the Second World War, as did I.  Marian worked in the parts and supplies depot at Linton, met Sgt Richards and returned to Canada after the War, where they married and raised their children, Elly and Phil, the younger named for me.  I was a staff secretary at the base, and later transferred to RAF Oakington where I met and married RAF Chaplain Thomas Dillon.  We remained attached to the RAF until twenty years ago until Tom was transferred to the living at Stratford St John, Suffolk and we settled down to village life.  He retired nearly ten years ago and we have since moved to Cambridgeshire to be closer to some of our children, of whom there are five.  We also have nineteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and are very proud of all our family.

My younger sister Doreen continued to live with our parents until our father died and my mother found that it was too difficult to cope with Doreen on her own.  Doreen and her moods affected all our lives, although not mine as much as Marian's once time and distance separated us after the War.  Indeed it was Marian who had to make the difficult decision to see Doreen committed to the provincial facility at Essondale.  My mother was devastated, and, though I hesitate to speak ill of the dead, I honestly believe that having to accept that Doreen's problems were genuine caused my mother's breakdown and subsequent hospitalisation.  Mother recovered, but was permanently and greatly changed by the shock therapy she received.  She became a stern disciplinarian, obsessed with ideas about morality and hygiene.  Again it fell to Marian to look after her, and Mother lived with Jim and Marian for the rest of her life.  Mr Dillon and I contributed where we could, but the distance between our families meant that there was little we could offer but our prayers.

I am not a medical expert by any means, but even to my untrained eye there is a pattern here, possibly some hereditary factor which affects mostly the females in the Ellsworth family, Ellsworth being my mother's maiden name.  My mother's aunt hanged herself in an asylum in the late 1870s, although one wonders about the standard of care she received and whether she was in fact a lunatic or had been committed there because she had borne a child out of wedlock.  Doreen's moods were tempered late in life by medication, which allowed her some semblance of normality in a Vancouver care home.  I understand from Marian that Doreen was still easily over-excited, particularly around young children, and that someone always would have to mind her to ensure that she didn't squeeze the breath out of them in her enthusiasm to give them a hug.  It has been so long now since poor, dear Doreen died that I can't imagine that there are many of us left who remember her at all.

My niece used to send me Christmas cards every year, but she mustn't be a keen letter-writer as I can't recall receiving any letters to accompany the cards.  Still, I was very sorry to hear from my nephew that Elly has been so unwell with what sounds to me like the same melancholia which has afflicted our family.  My middle daughter also experienced very bleak moods, beginning as a young adult, but managed to overcome them with therapy and medication; further details, however, are too personal to share widely.  I will write about the past, but my daughter's story is her own.  I do hope that Elly receives the support and love of her family to help her heal.  My memory fails me: I cannot remember if Elly has one or two daughters, but I would like her child or children to think about what I have written.  Please do remember that time and opinions have changed and that there is no shame in seeking help from your doctor or your minister if you struggle.

Mr Dillon and I will remember Elly and all her family in our prayers.

Yours faithfully
Phyllis Dillon (Mrs)
Six Mile Bottom
Cambs
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