Mistakes were made, lives were changed
Things undone that could never be fixed
Your wayward aggression broke me down
Christened then as ‘Fucking Devilspawn’
Those seven years, the years before I found my mother’s diary outlining what had happened to my brother and I from the time of our birth, were happy. At least I thought they were because like I said earlier I didn’t know how other families worked, I simply thought all families were the same, I had no yard stick to compare things too.
Obviously my memory doesn’t want to go back into those first few years and for all I know it could be because it’s trying to protect me but my mother’s diary did not lie to me then, nor does it lie to me now. My mother’s recollections of what happened are not always complete, possibly she feared having the diary found by my father. I do not know for sure, but I do know those stories which are complete do not paint my father in a glowing light. Years later I would find out just how dim that light really was.
There is an exert from that diary I remember reading clearly even to this day:
“Reginald still wont acknowledge young Reginald by name, not to him, not to myself and not to anyone else we know. His only reference is one of anger, often laced with curse words. He never swore until the boys were born now one could be excused for thinking our son’s name actually includes a curse word in it. Thankfully young Reginald is too young to understand such hurtful remarks.”
That entry was dated July 2nd 1971, nearly eighteen months after we were born. Another entry I remember clearly which was posted six months later was:
“If young Reginald was able to make just one wish this Christmas I imagine it would be that his father refer to him once by his own name. The boys are nearly two years old it will not be long before young Reginald is old enough to understand the venom in his father voice as he speaks the name Fucking Devilspawn. They will also be old enough to hear the same man, their own father, refer to Herod as Reginald, loudly and proudly like the naming mistake was never made.”
My mother’s notes then went on to explain that she knew Devilspawn was, in my father’s mind, spelt as a single word because he had taken the time to explain it to her in detail when he first started using it not long after he found out of the name confusion.
You might be wondering why it is my father never took the steps needed to rectify the mistake made with the names of his two siblings. Well, he did try, he tried twice before we were a year old.
The first time happened on our eleventh day of life, according to my mother’s diary. He wrote an abusive, drawn out letter to the Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriage stating that the mistake was their and theirs alone. He cited religious grounds for the names to be immediately changed and demanded the official people whose names were signed on the bottom of each certificate fired. His request was promptly denied via mail with a letter stating that if he wrote them such a letter again it would be handed to the police. (Obviously it was a different time back then).
The second time, in October of the same year, he forced my mother to write the letter. There was no details about the letter in the diary but in my mother’s hand there is a statement that says she did not want to write the letter but the punishment she received when she expressed her displeasure just once told her she would be better off accepting his request. What that punishment was did not get written down either but it was obviously enough to write the letter.
Using more tact and less demanding force my mother’s letter was received and replied to with a change of name form, however when my father saw there order form requesting seven dollars for each name change he refused.
Seven dollars was a reasonable amount of money in 1970 and for someone who was so twisted out of shape by the mistake made it would seem a small price to pay to have it fixed but apparently that was not my father’s way. It was someone elses mistake and they should change it without him being out of pocket. My mother’s notes never made another mention of the changing my name with Herod’s and it made no further mention of punishment for the names not being changed.
Whether a payment of fourteen dollars for a mistake he never made would have changed the way the lives of his children turned out is something we will never know. However what we do know is that not spending that money meant that he never allowed himself to get over his sons being named differently to what he wanted.
For what it’s worth I believe the short comings of our parents had nothing to do with our grand parents as all four of them appeared to look at both Herod and I through the same light and afforded each of us the same thoughts and well wishes. Our maternal grandparents I have very little to go on as they died before we were five, but in that time it appeared we received similar presents and similar attention, as much as I can remember. On the other side where grandma lasted until we were eight and grandpa didn’t die until we were nine things seemed much the same and even with our grand father being a Catholic priest who demanded our presence at his church every Sunday, there didn’t appear to be anything other than love and appreciation. He even christened us with the names we’d been shouldered with, against our father’s wishes.
I don’t know if the regret our father had for our christening was greater than for the mistake made in the first place, but I do know that over the years that regret only grew.