Colin Arthur Bryant and the third child.

One hundred and two years ago Caroline Ada Bryant had a baby boy on this day. Her second child, also her second son.

She named him Colin Arthur Bryant.

As a young boy Colin had hydatids. Maybe that’s why he was a little iffy around animals. His body bore scars from where they had operated to get the small sacs off, and save his life.

He married twice.

His first wife died after they had a son and a daughter.

Colin & Mary Bryant (c) Jo Bryant
Colin & the run away wife

His second ran off with a no-hoper from the circus after she had a daughter.

He carried that scar with him for the rest of his life as well.

Once a month until the third child was twelve he came to wherever she lived for his visit. He was always dressed in grey pants with a crease down the legs, a grey jacket, white long sleeved shirt and tie.

The aroma of tobacco would waft out of his clothes whenever any wind caught them. Colin tried, he really did, but he was uncomfortable around this third child. He used to look at her as if he was startled by her appearance at times.

It was easy to see he was uncomfortable; coming to the house when she was once again living with the run away Mum – but he never missed that Sunday visit.

(c) Jo Bryant
Colin & the third child

The run away Mum’s death caused a few problems. What does a 62-year-old man do with a 12-year-old daughter he barely knows? Especially when he boards with a couple and just has one bedroom to himself – he gets her brother to take her on.

When disaster strikes a year later – the brother throws the now 13-year-old out, Colin has no choice. He is going to have to raise this problematic third child.

Boarding doesn’t work out, so they move into a large house with two bedrooms next to each other, a community bathroom and kitchen. After a while Colin rents a small flat. His bed is in the kitchen, hers in the lounge room. Just outside their front door is the community bathroom they share with the other residents.

Colin Arthur Bryant (c) Jo Bryant
Colin in the bedroom/lounge

Slowly they begin to get to know each other. She learns to cook through trial and error. Colin always eats everything she makes, without one word of complaint. She doesn’t realise at the time how much this means to her.

Everyday until he was well into his seventies he went to work as a store man. He couldn’t quit now he had to raise the young girl. She needed to be fed, sent to school, and clothed.

The day he found out she had been wagging school for months he sat on the end of her bed and cried. When she ran away he agreed to let her leave school and get a job. But his eyes were sad.

Colin taught her to drive the car, and then even lent it to her. Now she was working they moved into a regular flat, where they had their own kitchen and bathroom. They stayed that way for a long time.

The third child worked to pay half the rent, and power, and they even got their own telephone so she no longer had to walk to the phone box to ring her friends. She cooked for Colin every night. She did the shopping, the washing, the cleaning.

Colin played bowls every weekend. He drank a bit, but he gave up smoking. The daughter made sure they celebrated birthdays and Christmas with the other children and his family.

(c) Jo Bryant
Colin off to bowls

She lost contact with most everyone from the run away Mum’s side. She didn’t know it but Colin had warned them off.

Over the years Colin started to wear the bright short sleeved shirts and even the cardigans or jumpers the third child would buy him for presents. She never saw the grey jacket anymore, and almost never a tie.

At twenty-four, although she knew it was not what he wanted she felt it was time to go out on her own. After flatting for a year she went to Africa where she fell in love.

The third child got married and moved to Queensland with her new husband. She also moved her Dad up to live with them. Before she married she made it clear to her fiancé that it had to be that way.

Her aunt had looked after her grandparents all her life. Her Dad had said that he expected her to do the same. After four years of freedom, she had to do what she had to do.

It did not work out. Colin and the new husband had some difficulty adjusting to each other and they dragged the young woman between them constantly. Back and forth she went. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. One day she broke.

Six weeks before she had her first child Colin went back to Sydney to live with his daughter from his first wife. After a while he moved into a home for war veterans where he stayed until he died.

The third child went to see him when she could. After she moved to New Zealand she even flew him over for six weeks so he could get to know her daughter and son. Colin and the husband were uneasy around each other but the third child told them both to behave.

Her marriage was failing and the third child went away – back to where she grew up to think things out. She spent some time with Colin, and they talked about all the things that had happened.

Four months later when she was living on her own with the children the third child had a feeling. She couldn’t shake it. So she left the children with their father and went to see hers.

He was very sick. Cancer. They talked again. In four days they talked a lot. Colin said he had had enough. He was 86. Three weeks after the third child went home Colin died.

But he wasn’t finished with the third child yet. Angry because she hadn’t kept her promise to look after him until he died, he cut her out of his will. The third child broke again. Broke into so many pieces it took a long time to put them back together.

She didn’t really care about the money. Not that there was a lot of it. It was what it said. Now, when the third child jokes with her own kids about her old age – well, after – she makes sure they understand it IS just a joke. They do NOT have to look after her when she gets older.

The third child was very angry with Colin, for a very long time. Almost as angry as she had loved him. But on days like today, when she thinks of Colin, she misses him. She forgives him. She loves him.

Happy 102nd Dad !! Wherever you are.

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49 thoughts on “Colin Arthur Bryant and the third child.”

  1. Thank you for the share.
    There’s a single word I can use to describe it.
    I can’t think of a word more suiting, but the same word lends itself to a mediocre summation of what it actually means both to you and to those who read it. I just have to hope it lives up to its former aspect.
    This was touching.

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  2. Jo, jo…. jo. That was one of the most poignant, honest, heartwarming and heartbreaking pieces I’ve read in oh so many years. I’ve already reread it a few times, just to let it sink into my bones. Honesty can cut like a knife at times, but it can also wrap you in it’s warm embrace. Happy Birthday to Colin, and an enthusiastic Thank You to the Third, for without your words, I would neither know him, nor see the person that dwells within the writer.

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  3. Got that horrible achy feeling in the back of my throat. You did ’emotion’ on me again Jo – you know I hate that! Happy Birthday to Colin.

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  4. Oh Jo……I always felt there was a lot I didn’t know about you and your family, when we were young, naive teenagers but I had no idea………… I am saddened that we (your young friends) couldn’t give you the understanding and support that you must have needed back then.

    How wonderful that you have discovered and are nurturing your obvious talent for writing. It must be such a help in the process of personal healing and self actualisation.

    Thinking of you and sending you as much positive energy that I can muster, my dear friend! XX

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    1. Thank you Toni,

      Don’t be saddened – youth is a time of being wrapped up in our own lives and problems. I too missed seeing some things in my friends. And it’s not a journey I was or am sorry I took – if I had missed one experience or turned left instead of right – I should not be in this place I am now.
      Writing has allowed me to cut away the ‘dead wood’ I think, by finally putting it out there. Things lose their importance once they step out into the light.

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  5. Hi, Jo. I hadn’t seen this post. Thanks for sharing your dad. I like the way you were able to write about such personal moments. It’s odd, I had a similar need to write about my mother, around the same time you wrote about your father. Yet, I couldn’t get it all down on paper, just a little crack opened and then closed.

    Your writing is so detailed. It’s almost like watching a film. Thanks for sharing.

    One day, perhaps I will be able to discover, as you have, how to write about that which is closer than I expect it would/should be.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this. It makes me appreiciate you that much more. I don’t know what that kind of betrayal felt like. (I fear that someday.. I may find out.) Lets hope not.

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  7. A sad story Jo. And well told in such unemotional prose.
    I know how hard it is to put your innermost feelings into words and yet how necessary it is to do so and how cathartic. I wrote a piece titled ‘memories’ about my childhood on mothers day and it felt like it was wrested out of me. The guilt feels more bearable now somehow.

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    1. It is so hard at times, especially when our parents are the source of such conflicting emotions in us. I spun around for many years with love and angers always propelling me. That morning I just started writing and couldn’t stop. But it healed something in me and left me able to just love again.

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  8. JO that was very emotional to even read let alone live it. My feeling are bouncing like pack man – off the walls. It brought so many emotions that took me years to work through. Thank God I got threw to the other side. I could feel your pain because I’ve been there.

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      1. My name is J A Bryant I lived most of my life in California and didn’t know anybody with the last name Bryant. Now I’m in the South and there are Bryant’s everywhere. That makes sense because most of my family came from the south.

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          1. Yes I do. But I would have to find the paper work again. My cousin looked it all up, went back to England and met the descendants of one son who was left behind. There was all sorts of BRYANT stuff…creeks, villages. I shall do a search for it again.

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  9. Reblogged this on Chronicles of Illusions and commented:

    I don’t do this. Reblogging I mean. At least NOT my own posts…but you see today is Dad’s 105th birthday. Three years ago I awoke early on the 13th of April and words pored out of me. Like the molten steel you see running down in to a mould, burning, shining, a completely unstoppable river that once cooled within will form a weapon. That post became my weapon you see. After a lifetime, it sliced effortlessly through the things that guarded my past and held me captive behind a solid door of emotion. I love my Dad. I loved him growing up. But ours was a tumultuous relationship. Because as deep as my loving was, my understanding of him was shallow. Colin Arthur Bryant was not a sharer. I know that. Yet I was luckier than most in our family. I saw more than the others, but even with that I grew up knowing that I would never be able to say I really knew my Dad.
    It has become important to me that my children will never think that of me. Some may say that I over share. I understand their view. I also disagree. Through the circumstances of my life I grew up knowing neither my Dad or my Mum well. I can’t tell you their favourite colour, what smells reminded them of moments they had lived, what their joys were or what their sorrows were. I know nothing of why they once loved each other or why their love became so twisted and full of emotions that drove them to acts I neither know if they regretted or were glad of their doing.
    So words have become my path to a future for my children that will enable then to say…this was my Mum. I knew her well !
    Again I digress. A habit I am not sure I want to break as it often leads me in to places I had forgotten existed. As i age I fell a growing fondness for finding places that lay hidden in the recesses of my mind and my memories, if only for the lessons that each journey has had, and possibly still has for me.
    Time though to revisit Colin. I had thought to write a post today for the celebration of the day he was born. Instead I found myself drawn back three years to this post. I realised that this post had said everything I want to say about the man I called Dad and the years in which he graced mine.
    I cried today reading it as much as I did the day I wrote it. Both for the possibilities that were grasped and for the ones abandoned and lost between us over the years.
    With all this…I still feel an ache that has never diminished.
    So to Colin I say this:
    “Happy birthday Dad. I know that you did the best you could with what you had. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for you. I miss you no less with each passing year. I will love you no less on the day I die than I did on the day you passed from my life. I feel you in each step I take forward.
    Your loving daughter,
    Jo.”

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  10. Oh Jo, that was such a touching and emotional piece of writing.I admire you for putting pen to paper and being so honest. As you say, when the words come, you can’t stop them, they just flow, and it makes us feel good to write it down.
    Happy Birthday to your dad, where ever he is!

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  11. A wonderful piece of writing, and I think part of a healing process. It is hard to understand our parents sometimes, I had an up and down situation with my dad also, but what helps me most now, is knowing that I forgave him before he died. It is so important to talk to our children now.

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    1. That is really the part that is important Angeline. For all that went before…the days I spent with Dad before he died are what kept me afloat. Because I forgave him, I told him I loved him. I told him thank you for raising me. If I had not done that…his dying would have been so much harder to cope with.

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  12. Dear Jo I’m so glad you shared this post again or I would probably not have seen it. I’m deeply by your writing and feeling rather raw, but even when we’re pretty much healed things have a way of popping back don’t they? and that’s okay too.
    I wish I could share my story but it would do too much damage to a fragile lady who perhaps doesn’t deserve that I care. One day, when there’s no possibility of her stalking me anymore. You’re right, they usually do the best they can.
    Thanks sweetie and big hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like to imagine that they do Gilly. Both my parents were a bit lacking in their parenting skills, but both had lives I can’t imagine. I was angry for soooooo long, and the only person that hurt was me. Forgiving…trying to understand…has given me some peace.

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    1. Thanks Marianne.
      🙂
      It’s funny. Some people find me too honest. As I get older I see less and less sense in covering up things that happened. Even my miss-steps have a lesson in there somewhere for someone. I have done some really silly stuff at times, but every one of those things has gone to making me – well me. So I no longer feel embarrassed by them.

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  13. A really moving post, Jo. I also have very mixed emotions when I think of my dad, but I will always love him. I often wish I could have him back again and really try to get to the bottom of what made him so unhappy. So many years wasted.

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    1. Thanks Sylvia. I wish I could have got him to talk to me about what happened between him and Mum. It was years later that I heard from a family member that when they were married they thought she was good for him. Got him more involved with his other two children. I never knew that. Sadly there are so many things I will never know about either of my parents as too much time has passed.

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    1. It was actually Amy. I woke and out it came like a flood. You know how some people say the words wrote themselves…this felt like that. Maybe because it was just time.

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  14. Somehow I missed this the first time. Not sure how. Thanks for reblogging it and sharing. Not an easy family history, but it seems like you are coming to terms with it. Not that it makes it any better, but addressing issues does help and talking about them Great writing.

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    1. Thanks Ma’am. The family history was not particularly easy I agree…but I guess at least it was never boring. Hope you are having a fine time away…where ever you ended up.

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