Sadie

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Sadie at a friend’s wedding at 18 years old

It was Sadie who first inspired me to start blogging about people’s lives. I met her by chance in a shopping centre. A lively, chatty character I was utterly amazed when she told me she was turning 96 in July!  With a firm grip on my arm she started to tell me little snippets of her life story as we walked around the shopping centre  and I knew I had to write a piece on her!

Sadie was born in 1923! The same year Mount Etna erupted in Italy, the Queens parents got married and the Irish Civil war ended.

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Sadie’s parents William and Jenny

The only child of  Jenny and William, her mother worked in the spinning room in the mills and her father worked in the H&W shipyard. They lived on Lord street, Belfast in a traditional Victorian red brick terrace house. Sadie started her first job working at the mill at the age of 14.

“Some people think that because people grow up in certain places that they can’t be academic or that they are bellow other people, I have a grandson who is a professor, I’ll have you know!”. When Sadie starts talking passionately about something she leaps out of her chair and to be honest I’m terrified every time she does this because I have no first aid training if something goes wrong! She dances, she sings, she giggles, she wags her finger and slaps her thigh. I begin to doubt she really is as old as she says she is!

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Sadie aged 14/15

I’m fascinated to know more about the Blitz and what it was like in those times. However Sadie might not have been the ideal candidate for my questions.  “See me, I could sleep through anything, I remember during the war years, my father away in the army with just me and my mother at home. One morning my mother came into my room and woke me, I thought she was going to hit me she was that cross! I asked her what was wrong and she told me last night those Germans were over here bombing the place and I had slept through it all, didn’t hear the sirens or nothing, I didn’t believe her, so she told me to get dressed and took me down to Saint Patrick’s church to show me where the bombs had hit!”  She describes the air raid shelter as being “literally a concrete box on the street”.  One night she looked out of the shelter and saw the spotlights blazing through the sky and a German plane overhead “it looked like a giant bird”.

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Sadie and Sammy- 1943

I ask Sadie about her husband, who passed away 33 years ago.  The pair met at the tender age of 14 when they were both working in the mills, later Sammy would join the Royal Navy. When I asked Sadie about her husband I expected to hear a heartfelt lament about a lost love however Sadie tells me that shortly after he died, she booked a ticket to America and went on her first holiday alone aged 70.  It would be the first of many holidays abroad,  “The only place we went together was Bangor, County Down, I would get all dressed up and we would go in the car and I would end up just sitting in the car, completely frustrated but also grateful because that meant he would be sober for the rest of the day”. Sadie’s husband was an alcoholic, 9 years before his death he stopped drinking but the emotional damage had taken its toll on Sadie. At the age of 30 Sadie was looking after her growing family and her sick grandmother, while having to visit her husband everyday in an institute “I didn’t do it out of love but because if I didn’t go, he would have walked out of that place”.  Did you ever love him I ask? “He had nice hair but I only went out with him when we were younger because there was a blackout that night and I just wanted to go to the pictures (cinema) that being said he was extremely kind and would do anything for you when he was sober”.

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Sadie married Sammy at the age of 20 and within weeks of being married, Sadie was pregnant with the first of her five children!  I ask Sadie what is the thing in life that she is proudest of? “My Children, they really look after their mother and have never given me a button of trouble”

I ask her what relationship advice she would give. “Communicate, talk to each other about your feelings and emotions, you are not a robot or a machine, don’t be grumpy or sulk, talk it through, same with other relationships in your life, don’t ever have animosity”.  However she tells me that these days she doesn’t need a man, she just wants a fish supper, “Oh and a wee tin of cola, I love cola” She adds with a chuckle.

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Sadie pictured on the right.

I suppose my real reason for wanting to chat to Sadie is to gain some wisdom into what makes you mentally strong and sane after 96 years on this planet. “I don’t look at the woman who lives beside me with the nice big car and all the things I don’t have, I look at the woman living on the other side who doesn’t have all the things I have and that’s what makes me feel grateful, counting my blessings for what I do have”

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