Story of My Life
             Sue McPherson  2003  (updated 2012)
page under revision, Jan 2013

I was born in Bristol, England, in 1946, soon after WWII ended. My name at birth was Susan Fulham. When I was four years old we moved to Bratton Seymour(1), a village in Somerset.

During the war my father had served overseas with the British
Eighth Army and my mother had been a Phys. Ed. teacher.  Now, my mother became games mistress at The Hall School(2), a private school for girls, my father was the caretaker, and after some time at pre-kindergarten and presumably kindergarten at Hadspen House, I became a day girl at the Hall School in Bratton Seymour.  See last report card, spring, 1957.  

For seven years we lived in a 14th century cottage for the school's staff, which had no telephone or electricity, the nearest shop being about a mile and a half away, downhill.  It was a route we travelled many times on our bicycles, with great joy in one direction only. In 1957, when I was ten, I emigrated to Canada with my mother and brother Michael, my father having gone beforehand to his sponsor's home, to make preparations. We left from Liverpool, taking the boat-train then the 7-day voyage across the Atlantic to Montreal, on the Empress of France(3).   
Arriving in Woodstock, Ontario, as a shy 10 year old was a daunting experience.  For the first time in my life (except for a brief time in North Cadbury, UK) I was attending a school with both girls and boys. I was unused to the attention I received, as a new student or perhaps just as a new girl. 

For the next forty years I lived in Woodstock, in south-western Ontario. My family moved about once a year until 1962 when we finally acquired a home. 
I grew up in Woodstock, spending much time at the YWCA where my mother was Phys Ed Director. I worked a couple of summers at the Ontario Hospital, where my mother also later worked, graduating from high school in 1965(4). It was probably quite an ordinary adolescence, considering I grew up in the fifties and sixties. 
I tried to be a good parent although, on looking back, I see I got some things wrong, and recognized how traditional I was in some ways, maintaining familiar gender roles within the family. As time went on, I wanted my daughter to make sure she had a career so she could have more independence than I had.  Growing up, my son tended to do his own thing, just the way he evolved, naturally, as a male in our society, I think. I began to see my parents’ marriage in a different light.  I thought if I didn’t work because my husband objected to it, but tried to be understanding and accommodating, that I could avoid the turmoil of my parents’ marriage that I, being the only child living at home most of the time, became involved in, as the third person. I see now I knew nothing of how the world worked. 

Despite the good times, I realized finally that our marriage was too controlling, while ‘the other half’ had the freedom and the resources to live life on his own terms. Awareness for me came in different ways, one, through the relationship itself which was deteriorating, second, learning about the influence feminism had on society, another way through being a volunteer with Community Options for Justice – using the library as a placement. All this opened my eyes to seeing other ways of living and contributing to a better society, and left me wanting to be able to participate more instead of family life and husband always being put first. 

After all, even when I gave birth I did it without my husband being present – his choice, another aspect of separation of home and work for him – and most of my life was spent caring for children, pets, and the home and property, while he went to work away from home, on the road, able to enjoy his freedom as well as the sense of worth that comes with having a steady job. He was at home when I went into labour with Christine, and drove me to the hospital, but went to work as usual, before she was born, after about 5 hours of labour. For Steve, we were fishing at a local pond when my water broke, and went to the hospital, a good three weeks early. The Dr prescribed bed rest, so with Christine’s aunt to take care of her, I remained in hospital for the next five days, when I came to realize I was in labour. I let Walter know, but he decided to go to work as usual, and Steven was born at about 11 am that morning.  Not along after that we had sold the house and moved to Beachville. 

I wanted those kind of opportunities that other women had, either within marriage or divorced from it. I took a university course over the summer, and another, both in Sociology. This no doubt contributed to my becoming increasingly dissatisfied with marriage, especially as the children were now teenagers and I realized as I passed through into my 40s that those days of being needed as a fulltime mother – or even a part-time one - would soon be over.

The marriage ended in late 1986, after almost reaching the twenty year mark, and in 1991 he applied for a divorce.  Looking back, had I realized it, the better solution would have been to save our marriage, but neither of us knew how to do that, and there was no one, professional or otherwise, who could help, and inevitably the end came. I realized later that we had gone through our marriage not paying attention to what was happening in society, but living the way that we understood was how marriage was supposed to be – patriarchal, with the man the authority. Changing that perspective was starting to happen in my life, though I think it was more difficult for the man in that situation, always having been the one with power, laying down the rules. Since then I have discovered a lot more about marriage (and being single), and about ‘work’. 

The economy had changed, over those years I was raising children, so getting back into the work force was not so easy, not at the level I used to be working at. I was still managing the library in Beachville, up until 1988, but the house needed to be sold and I wanted to start again, in Woodstock. Jobs were not as abundant as they were in the 60s and 70s, but I found one at an answering service for local businesses, working all hours of the day and night. That’s when I started thinking seriously about returning to university to get my degree. I had taken a couple of courses through continuing education, held at the high school in Woodstock, which was a start. 

NOTES

1.   Bratton Seymour, nr Wincanton, Somerset. http://samcpherson.homestead.com/BrattonWincanton.html
2.   Hall School, Bratton Seymourhttp://samcpherson.homestead.com/Bratton_Seymour.html 
3.   Empress of France Sailed May 7, 1957. Captain: W. R. Thorburn.   http://samcpherson.homestead.com/EmpressofFrance.html 
4.   Woodstock Collegiate Institute, Woodstock, Ontario: then Principal: E. Ferguson.
   In Woodstock, New York, in 1969, a Festival and Concert were held:   http://www.woodstock69.com/
5.   University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
6.   Ref CO/4170/2000. Application for Judicial Review. Susan A McPherson vs University of Essex. Mar 22, 2001. 
      High Court ofJustice, Strand, Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court. Application refused by Justice Turner. 
7.   S A McPherson website  (2001)       
8.   Women in Transition: Discourses of Menopause  Abstract:  http://samcpherson.homestead.com/files/Menopause/MAThesisAbstract.doc
      E-Book (2005):  http://www.dissertation.com/book.php?method=ISBN&book=1581122756
9.   Menopause and Aging Femininity :  http://samcpherson.homestead.com/MenopauseandAgeingFemininity.html 
10.  Empress of France website (2004)
11. Diversity in Retirement website (2004)
12. Woodstock YWCA 1957 to 1964 website (2004)
13. Trees and Towns website (2005)
14. Essays web page: http://samcpherson.homestead.com/EssaysandOtherWriting.html
15. Montreal Massacre website (2005)  
16. Book reviews web page: http://samcpherson.homestead.com/BookReviews.html
17. J. L. McPherson, Hong Kong YMCA: General Secretary 1905-1935   Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Hong Kong
      Branch Vol 46, 2006 (publ. Dec 2007) pp. 39-59.  Also, see version on  web page:
      http://samcpherson.homestead.com/JLMcPhersonHKYMCA.html











                Story of My Life is located on the S A McPherson website:
   The guest book is on the homepage:
                   http://samcpherson.homestead.com/homepage.html

                                                                            Email: s.a.mcpherson @ sympatico.ca

                                                                            This page was last updated 29 Aug 2012,
                                                                                            last revised Mar 8, 2014


                                                                    
I decided to move to London to attend Western, which was where my daughter was also to be starting that fall and my son would be attending a new high school. Having graduated from Grade 13 I didn’t foresee any problems academically, despite the earlier attempt in Winnipeg. I was older now – a mature student – ready to work hard for what I wanted.  My children and myself moved up to London, to a chaotic lifestyle – three people seeking their own individual path in life.  

Studying Sociology and Women’s Studies was in part an attempt to figure out what I wanted to do with my life while learning about gender and sexuality, topics far beyond what I was familiar with. At that time I still thought it was my choice to decide, not that there would be numerous obstacles in my path, some of them due to the effect that the 20 years of marriage had had on me, as well as my earlier family life with two parents vying for power, and a brother who was raised to know his rights.  Discovering more about what it meant to be a woman, and learning about sexuality and the aging process, as well as about ‘work,’ would be the subject of my studies and research for several years. There was worse yet to come, however, than what I had experienced in my marriage.  It's one thing for a man to treat a woman the way he had learned within his family, but quite another for a man to use academic knowledge to coerce women into bending to his will - whether knowingly or not. I say that because so often men think it's all just a bit of fun. The difference between before and what was to come was that the educated are more likely to realize that subjecting their partners to force won't work indefinitely unless some greater reward than the personal experience is offered. And as feminism progressed, women were not as likely to consider a home and family reason enough to put up with men's bad behaviour. But beyond that, encountering women in the university environment who were equally as likely to use their power to get men to bend to their will was also a possibility, as was discovering how ruthless they could be in getting rid of any competition or opposition. 
Canada
Graduation photo. Self,  UWO,  1993
Oxley, Essex, 
Ontario. 1994
Bratton Seymour, 
Somerset.  2003.  
Photo of me in front 
of Hall School, ​which overlooks
 the countryside
While raising a family I worked - part-time - as a physiotherapy assistant, doing income tax preparation, working in a Department store, then later managing the branch library in Beachville, the village where we lived. Much of our life together during holidays was spent on or near water - fishing, boating, waterskiing, camping, and hiking. I also liked to play tennis and swim locally. I enjoyed sewing and made most of my own clothes as well as my children’s. Playing the piano and extended family get-togethers was also part of family life. There were always cats and dogs, and various other pets throughout the years. When Lucky had her seven puppies, which were put up for sale, I was reluctant to let the puppy with the limp go.  The mother had had problems giving birth, and after talking to the vet, I managed to help Lucky deliver the puppy that seemed to be stuck, pulling on its legs so it eventually was born. Whether out of a sense of responsibility or due to my tendency to stick up for the underdog, especially as time went on, I hadn’t wanted to see the little guy go with the remaining puppies. I guess I knew he didn’t stand a chance. 

While visiting in Canada I began interviewing for life stories on the theme of mandatory retirement for the Diversity in Retirement(11) website (2004), which was another research area of academic interest to me.  I also came back to England with news items and photos from my mother's scrapbooks, from which I constructed another website, the Woodstock YWCA 1957 to 1964: seven years remembered(12) (2004). 

For a while, back in Colchester, I had a cat, left behind when a 
neighbour moved, that had climbed through the kitchen window 
and made himself comfortable in my microwave. I couldn’t keep 
it for long, but I fed him and got him healthy again before letting 
him go to the cat shelter, and a new home.

In 2005, I started another website, Trees and Towns(13), after realizing that I had accumulated quite a number of photos of trees in various places I had visited. Being a stranger in so many places, I had often taken pictures of trees instead of people. And I tended to use a holiday period, such as Christmas, to begin such a project, as it gave me something to be enthusiastic about. 

I was still applying for jobs, but never was the one to be selected. I approached each job application as a new possibility, taking care to provide information from my diverse life which would uphold the conditions asked for, and the type of job. At times I knew I was the best applicant, especially for social services types of jobs, but just because I knew what the job was about didn’t mean they wanted me. As I had been informed by the university, they could hire whomever they liked, regardless of experience or qualifications.  

From 2004 through to 2005 I presented three papers for the seminar series Discourses of Difference, held at the University of London first and then at Sunderland University, UK. I included excerpts from interviews to illustrate points I was making about work and retirement. At the end of it, I submitted the essay Beyond Workaday Worlds: Ageing, Identity and the Life Cycle for consideration as a chapter in a book to come out of the series. I had hoped to influence the way work was viewed in society; particularly to show how a person’s worth need not always be determined by their career or employment status. It was not accepted; however, Beyond Workaday Worlds is available to read on my website, on the Essays web page(14).

The last website I started was the Montreal Massacre(15) website (2005), starting with the essay Perspectives on the Montreal Massacre: Canada's Outrage Revisited (2005). It was while living in England that I became aware of what Marc Lepine’s life must have been like. His act of retaliation , killing 14 women at the Montreal Massacre in December, 1989, had probably been exacerbated by encounters he had had with feminists and others, as he tried to get them to understand what was happening in society as feminism took hold. I came to see how some women had managed to take their places working and studying alongside men at university, but in the process, some other women and some men were excluded. 

                                                         The last conference I attended from England was in May, 2006, when I
                                                         attended the Narrative Matters conference at Acadia University in Wolfville,
                                                         Nova Scotia, Canada, at which I presented a paper, The Hidden
                                                         Narratives: stories of the many in the Montreal Massacre (2006).
                                                         My aim was to bring in the other sides of the tragedy, the lives of others who
                                                         suffered in the wider context of the Montreal Massacre, and not simply the
                                                         story of the 14 women who were killed. I didn’t feel it was well accepted, but
                                                         then this was Canada, so what could I expect. I did a lot of research for this
                                                         and the website, even going up to London to the British Library to find out
                                                         more about the tragedy from books and documents not accessible to me in
                                                         Colchester, and not simply using other researchers' "verified" research. At the
                                                          end of my presentation, a woman stood up and said, "But it was women he
                                                          killed!" - no acknowledgment here that he had been passed over in favour of 
                                                          middle feminists and the men who supported them. I was definitely in the
                                                          wrong place. 

Wikipedia started a page on the Montreal Massacre in 2005.  For some time in 2006, and again in 2008, I joined in ‘talk’ with other Wikipedia contributors in the development of that page. My thoughts were dismissed as untrue or irrelevant, or twisted and distorted until their original meaning was lost. I saw later that a few pieces of what I was trying to say had been incorporated, and likely the resources I handed to them were useful as I saw them listed in the List of References, but no credit was given to me or to my website, which consists of a number of essays, articles, and commentaries by myself and others. 

In the first section on the main page, in the paragraph about different interpretations, the one interpretation that is absent is the reason Lépine gave for the killings, that feminists were taking over careers and places in education that had previously been men’s. I have thought, too, that Lepine surely must have experienced hostile personal interactions with women and pseudofeminists before the event, for him to have acted in such a manner. And no, I do know that’s not an excuse for killing, for anyone who thinks that trying to understand why he did is justification for such horrific acts.

It is Wikipeda’s policy, apparently, that only “verified” sources by used for their article, and thus, anything I write about it cannot be used. So as long as someone is hired by a university to do research, even if they were only hired because they knew someone at the university, their research is considered more “truthful” than mine. See section ‘Men Women Anger and Powerlessness’ under ‘talk’ on the École Polytechnique massacre page. 

The Wikipedia title for the page was subsequently changed to École Polytechnique massacre, with a separate page on Marc Lépine himself. The ‘talk’ section can still be read through, though I don’t know if it is all there, or how accurate it is. 

In 2006 I turned retirement age in the UK, officially becoming a pensioner (age 60 for women, 65 for men). I had spent several years job-seeking without finding anything, although the interviews I attended had taken me to parts of Britain I would not otherwise have been able to see. And I had job-seekers’ benefits to help me though financially. And yet, after all that, I didn’t feel that England was the place I wanted to live out the rest of my life. I was disappointed that I had not been able to resolve the problems with the university, and that I had been unable to get a job doing research or teaching in spite of my qualifications, including taking courses in quantitative statistics at Western in Canada. That particularly was problematic, as at the University of Essex, in England, it was another student who continued to teach classes in Research Methods the second year, despite not being trained in the subject.  
YWCA Float, Victoria Day Parade. Woodstock, 1959
Kay, myself, and Michael. 1957.  The car - a Ford, either a 1949, '50, or '51 model.
'Staff cottage' 2003,
Bratton Seymour
Hadspen House, 
Somerset, photo 
taken by me, 1964
Empress of France 
menu cover photo, 1957
Graduation photo, Western, 1993. 
Christine and self
At the very least, as a British Canadian I assumed I would pay home tuition fees, as many Europeans and Chinese students from Hong Kong did. But even that was denied to me as I had not completed residency in the UK, according to their rules and definitions  I sought ways to get them to see the light, and only managed to receive advice to take the matter to Judicial Review, which I attempted to do.  It was hopeless, from day one, but I didn’t know that when I started the process of research and filling out forms for the application for Judicial Review. I did go to court, at The Strand in London, but my application for judicial review was rejected, the reason given being that I did not follow the correct procedure – making a formal complaint with the university, and so on. . My mention of the fact that I was both Canadian and British, since before 1983 when the regulations changed, failed to impress them.  Strangely, in Canada I had tried to resolve the situation within the university using their procedures and Offices for complaints, and gotten nowhere. Now I was being told I had to start at the beginning of the process if I wanted to resolve a complaint.  

Meanwhile, I proceeded to work on my dissertation research, and sit in on courses of interest for the subject I was pursuing. By 1999 I had completed 17 interviews for the research for my PhD dissertation on Intimacy and Sexuality: single-again older women (title updated).  I believed that my dissertation would be quite unique and a useful contribution to the subjects of aging and sexuality, and I had hoped to get funding, but that didn’t happen. 

Besides the money problem, the supervisor for my research decided that he wouldn’t be able to continue doing the research with me. He had seemed interested at first in the topic, but he had changed his mind, leaving me without a supervisor and unable to get another one.  I had changed supervisors after starting the research, as I felt she and I were not a good fit. I don’t know what she said to get the second one to agree to do the research with me but whatever it was, it didn’t have a lasting effect. 

Having taken the university to court over the tuition fees probably didn’t help, although that wasn’t the reason I did not have that particular prof’s support any longer. I pursued the matter with Complaints Office, and then through The Visitor, and finally once again to The Royal Courts to apply for judicial review.  It took months of research, endless meetings and fruitless endeavors to gain support for my research through acquaintances and other students and professors who might be interested or concerned about the state of academia. 

In the end I discovered once again that taking the university to court – to apply for a judicial review – was an impossible task and couldn’t end favourably. The judge dismissed my case, metaphorically speaking, though he gave lip service to their actually being a case  - one that I had worked at for months. I got the impression he hadn’t even bothered to read my documented arguments. Even though I had done it properly this time, going through the complaints procedure, and appealing to The Visitor, it made no difference to the outcome. See 'Grounds' and 'Additional Info'. I had asked my daughter Christine if she could come over from Canada and go with me to court on the appointed day, to witness the event, in case I needed one. She agreed, and grandma kindly paid her fare. We went to court at The Strand, but it was over in minutes, with no appeal permitted(6). It seemed to me the judge had not been open to what I was saying, and to the evidence, but that’s the way it goes, sometimes. Shortly after, I tried to get the transcript but it had been mislaid by the courts, and was unavailable for many months.  I finally got hold of a copy, long after it was over. It was nice at the time to have my daughter visit, and to go sightseeing with her in London, but the main reason for her visit hadn’t turned out well.

Being a TA at that university was the last job I held during the eleven years I spent in the UK. One of the drawbacks of working only part-time while raising a family was that I did not establish a work history. Nor did I receive references once the marriage ended. Once my formal education was over, in England, I had no useful history to draw upon in starting out again on my own in England, only the stigma of a failed marriage and an incomplete PhD. Rarely, if ever, does a person's work stand on its own merit. It takes friends, marriage, family or a community to make that happen. I didn’t have the support I needed within the academic community, or outside of it. It seemed that all my efforts over the years were in vain, to have my work recognized and get a job in the field I was interested in – doing research on aging. I didn’t expect to get a job in the area of my other interests, though I was still interested in the subjects of gender and sexuality. 
Ambassador Bridge, Univ of Windsor, 
Canada. 1995
Myself with parents,  
Woodstock, Ont., 
1995
The Sherlock Holmes.  London, UK. 
Christine & self. 1997 
self, Steve & Chris.
Woodstock  1973
While at school I decided to be a physiotherapist, having seen its practical worth while being treated following a a car accident a year earlier when I was struck by a car that failed to ‘yield to the right’. I decided to take the program in Winnipeg, but didn’t get enough studying done in order to progress. I had lost my chance for a career and I was disappointed, but the experience was memorable for me, being in a different environment with a somewhat different culture than I was used to, and a harsher climate. Once home again, I worked the summer as a physiotherapy assistant before moving 30 miles away, to London. I found a job and resumed my relationship with the man I would marry, though once married, we would move back to the Woodstock area. 

I was 20 and Walter was 23 when we married, in 1967, and while I threw myself into the task of being a good wife, I also worked, taking on a job as a cost clerk in Woodstock. My husband, like many other men of the time, was insistent that I not continue working, so starting a family seemed like a good idea after a couple of years. I hadn’t realized the importance to women of having paid work, and jobs were plentiful and easy to find. Besides that, I wanted to remain at home while my children were small. I had often wished my mother had been at home for me while I was growing up. The separation between home and work seemed more inflexible in our marriage than it had in my parents, possibly due to WW II temporarily encouraging women in England to go to work while the men fought in the war.  
self, 1963 - 
Susan Fulham
WCI Cadets, Woodstock, 
Ontario.  1962
Christine and self, 
Woodstock, 1969
self, Wildwood 1980
I started the S A McPherson website(7), my first, in 2001, placing on it an essay I had written about my grandmother’s life. For that, I interviewed my mother and her two sisters, and through letters and phone conversations, gathered much information about my grandmother’s life, as well as my grandfather’s. 

In January, 2002 my mother, age 86, died. She had become seriously ill during a visit by my daughter and was taken to hospital in Woodstock, Ontario. She could have received kidney dialysis, presumably, but made the decision not to accept life-sustaining treatment, my brother and daughter confirming that the decision had been hers alone and no coercion had been involved. I could have returned for her last day or two, but didn’t know if I would get there in time, and didn’t know where I would get the money to do so, especially as I had already arranged to return to Canada in May to defend the MA thesis.  I talked to her by phone during those last few days, in the hospital, and also spoke with her sisters in England about what she was going through. Family members in Canada took turns staying by my mother’s bedside, and as it happened, on the last day I called, my son Steve was taking his turn. He described how she was, and I asked him how he would know when she had died, and he said she would stop breathing. She was breathing in and out, and as we talked, she took her last breath. So even though I wasn't able to be there in person, I was glad to have been there, in a sense, when she died.

I had renegotiated with the University of Windsor in Canada to complete the MA – just the thesis was unfinished – and that spring I returned to Windsor for the oral defence of the thesis, Women in Transition: Discourses of Menopause(8), graduating in June, 2002, with an MA in Sociology. It was too late, however, to make a difference in the course of my life, at this point, as far as getting a decent job, and the gap in the completion of the degree must have been noticeable to potential employers, not to mention the incomplete PhD.  But while in Canada I visited my father and attended the interment of my mother’s cremated remains, along with my children, my father and the minister of her church.

Everything of my mother’s was gone from the house – everything that indicated she had ever lived there – except for a picture I had once given to her. But the Royal Albert flower-of-the-month mug – snowdrops for January - had disappeared, and what else I don’t know. My brother and probably his family took care of all that, with my daughter’s help. As time went on, communication between myself and my brother’s family deteriorated, as I was excluded from any decision-making, or even from knowing what was going on. One thing he did do, however was to give me my mother’s old prayer book, which she had carried with her from one country to the next since her days as a girl at the Garden School in High Wycombe. And my daughter had saved her old scrapbook, which I brought back to England with me. 

By this time I had all my belongings with me, some having been mailed to me in England, and some brought over by my daughter while on a visit. Originally, when I arrived, I had only a couple of suitcases. I didn’t have much, as each time I moved more of my things would be discarded or lost. I had moved from the university residence to an apartment, and here I would live for the next 8 years.
The next few years I spent interviewing, writing, doing research, attending conferences, applying for jobs and attending job interviews, and developing my websites, while continuing to try to get the situation with the university resolved. I wrote book reviews and essays, and letters to editors of newspapers, and presented papers at conferences. 


I always kept in contact with my family –  my children and parents – and occasionally was able to make a trip back to Canada, but not as often as I would have liked. My children were adults and making lives for themselves – finding work or taking courses, travelling, moving from one city to another, and finding partners in life. My father, too, found a new partner for his last few years. 

In January, 2003, I presented the paper  Menopause and Ageing Femininity(9) at the Menstruation: Blood, Body, Brand conference at the University of Liverpool in England.  The following year – 2004 – I started a website about the Empress of France(10) (2004), placing on it memorabilia of Lewis Carter. By chance I had an interview for a research job at Liverpool John Moores University that summer, so stayed on to visit the Maritime Museum and take the ferry ’cross the Mersey. I didn’t get the job but did get to see more of the city which was so well known as a point of departure for Canada, and also, for the Beatles and other sixties groups. 

Being in England gave me the opportunity of meeting up with family members I hadn’t seen for many years, in London and especially Bristol, my birthplace. I made a point of visiting Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol - overgrown and wild-looking at the time but since then under restoration - where ancestors on my father’s side are buried. I spent my first British Christmas in Bedford, with a friend of my mother’s from the Garden School days at High Wycombe, Bucks. And in the spring of 2003 I made my way first to Bournemouth, where I had a job interview, then on to Wincanton and Bratton Seymour where I had lived as a child and attended school before coming to Canada, even  getting to see inside the house we used to live in, now a treasured piece of heritage in Britain. Hadspen House, where I had gone to kindergarten, is set on a large estate which is now a well-known Gardens in England, set in a beautiful part of Somerset. 

That was the only time I drove in England, having rented a car especially for the trip from Bournemouth onwards, staying overnight in a pub in the nearby town of Wincanton. Although I had taken driving lessons in England and had a British driving licence, I was never able to buy a car. Most of the time, I rode my bicycle and walked, or took buses and trains, and in London, the tube. Going anywhere in England generally meant going by train to Liverpool Street (train and tube) Station in London, and on from there. But I could cycle to Wivenhoe from the university, and when I lived in Colchester, got around by bus, bicycle, and Shank’s pony. 

In the spring of 2004 I attended the Narrative Matters conference at St Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, presenting the paper, Narratives and Wisdom: the lives of women growing older. I was able to visit my family in Canada first, by flying into Pearson airport in Toronto, my son then driving me down to New Brunswick for the conference, then back again. I had never been there before, so enjoyed that part of it, seeing the countryside and a moose in the wild for the first time. I was glad for the opportunity to present the paper on women growing older, and placed the paper on my website. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my life story. 
I hope readers will perceive my website as I intended, 
as a place to bring together my writing, research, 
and other interests as an independent researcher, for 
public viewing, and this story as an effort to explain 
about my life and use my life experience in a manner
that might benefit others, as well as further sociological 
and feminist knowledge. 
Sue McPherson, London, 2011
Cat
Colchester, 
UK. 2004
Ankle, 2009,
after 1 week
Ontario, Canada 2007 

Eventually, in May 2007, I returned to Canada, to Oshawa, Ontario, where Steve, my son, lives, hoping that I wasn’t the only person who knew of a quotation attributed to Susan Jeffers: "You're not a failure because you didn't make it, you're a success because you tried.” The book ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ had been a motivational force in my life throughout my undergrad years. In retrospect, I don’t think she was altogether right on that idea about success.  

The move was a challenge, as I had all my belongings in England. I finally realized how my mother was put in the situation of having to destroy entire albums of photos. There simply was not room for them, and they were so heavy. And even though I had removed all the photos from the albums, there were still bundles and bundles of them, and so, invariably, as the time to leave drew close, some had to go, despite my scanning a good many of them and saving them on cds. I was obliged to mail my belongings back, as having it sent any other way was very expensive. A lot was left behind, in Charity shops, given away, or thrown out. 

Since returning to Canada, two book reviews I had written while in England have been published (16), also the article I wrote about my grandfather, John L. McPherson(17). A version with more images accompanying it is on my website, on the web page J. L. McPherson, Hong Kong YMCA: General Secretary 1905-1935 (2006). He had been a missionary in Hong Kong, married to Gertrude Briggs who was also a missionary, as well as an artist, suffragist, writer, and mother of three daughters, one of whom was my mother. 

I continued to make entries in my blog, Sue's Views on the News (since 2005), also commenting on newspaper articles and blogs online. But mostly, my time was spent simply trying to survive. I had been officially retired in England, but now was once again expected to earn my way. The first jobs I applied for were in my field - doing research and teaching. I applied for part-time teaching in the summer at the university in Oshawa, and attempted to find out who the professor of the course was, so I could tell him or her about my experience. I didn’t have any confidence that human resources employees would understand my background, or take it seriously, going as they would by a list on which to check off if I fulfilled their conditions. I emailed a professor there from Social Sciences, actually one who did research in domestic abuse, but when I mentioned my website on the Montreal Massacre he then contacted the women in his department who called the police, who showed up on my doorstep. Talk about paranoia! No, I was hardly the type to go around with a machine gun killing people. Nevertheless, I had a feeling that simply developing that website would have effectively killed any chance at getting a job there doing anything. 

self - Susan Herd - 1968, Woodstock
Dennis & Kay Fulham, Susan & Michael,
Bratton Seymour, 1954
Michael, cousin Carol, Susan, and neighbour Margaret & horse
Bratton Seymour, 1953
Dennis, Susan & Kay, 1958.
Family trip to Muskoka
Bon Echo, 1975. Sue, 
Christine and Steven
Christmas, 1975  
Christine & Steve
Lucky's 7 pups, 
1977. Christine, 
Walter & Steven
Ouillette Ave, 
Windsor, Canada.
1994
For the next 2 ½ years I was based in Windsor, living in a bachelor apartment, while my son, who had graduated from high school, left to attend McMaster in Hamilton. The MA degree consisted of taking courses, doing research, and writing a thesis. I  interviewed ten women about their experiences of their midlife transition, and examined their life stories within the thesis – all with their cooperation and approval. This was a subject very close to my heart, as I saw myself as being in the middle of my own change of life transition. I worked as a TA and then as course assistant for a prof, while at the university. 

From 1995 to ’96, I was one of a group whose aim was to organize a presentation and discussion on menopause for women in the community. Centred around the Windsor CMHA, the resulting Forum on Menopause, of which I was a panel member, was a great success. [Added July 2013].

I was fortunate to be able to attend the SMCR conference (Society for Menstrual Cycle Research) being held in Montreal in 1995, taking the train and spending the week in a university residence along with the other women.   I also sat in on a couple of sessions of the Learned Conference for the Social Sciences being held at UQAM, and visited the Chinese Garden in Montreal as well as Notre Dame Cathedral and one of the smaller chapels, taking my place in the centre row of the white chapel, only to find out shortly after, through the motions of a nun, that I was sitting in their reserved space.  

After the week was over, I took the train to Woodstock where I was met by my father, and stayed to visit. As part of attempting to understand my life better, as well as theirs, I interviewed them on videotape, at their home.  

At that time I became more involved with the Unitarian Universalists, as I had while in London.  My religious upbringing had been Anglican, and during my marriage had been non-existent, but this seemed more in tune with how I saw things at this point – with an emphasis on society and social issues rather than mainly on the Bible and its teachings.  But my time in Windsor was comparatively short.
The coursework for my MA degree was completed and I had only the thesis to finish when I left for England, where I had been accepted into a PhD program. I was once again being harassed and feeling overwhelmed by it all, in Canada.  I had finished writing an essay on the incident I had experienced at Western and had given copies to people who I thought might be interested.  So when the middle of the night phone calls started and I sensed antagonism from individuals for no reason, it looked as though it might be starting all over again. I knew there were some who didn’t like that subject being raised, and it wasn’t only men. In fact, it seems to me that women can be overly protective of the men who provide them with jobs and other kinds of support in their lives, even so far as to cover up the truth if need be.  And this was not just a theoretical essay, or a research essay. It was based on an incident that involved myself and a prof. I felt I needed to get out of that environment so left quickly, planning to complete the MA thesis from England and to return soon to defend it and thus complete the degree. 

Arrangements were made, my daughter taking on the care of my belongings and selling off furniture and any extras. It was at about this time, in 1996, that my mother told me she and my father had made my brother their power of attorney, and that he had suggested my daughter as the second, as he thought he could work with her better than he could with me.  When she had said to me some time previously that they were seeking a lawyer, I suggested my old divorce lawyer, who I remained with only a short time while in Woodstock as my marriage was ending, so that’s where they went – another step in excluding me from family matters and manipulating family finances.

So this was what I encountered when I went to university the second time around. It was different than the first time, when I was still a teenager attending the University of Manitoba. But then, one probably had to experience more than just one year to get involved enough to see what was going on. Being older this time, and not keen on becoming fully involved except academically, due to my experience of feeling too powerless to say No unless I was willing to risk the marriage coming to an end, my approach this time was entirely different, not through having made a plan but simply due to my needs and goals at that time. And that doesn't mean I was any more effective at achieving my goals. Taking an assertiveness training course resulted for me in situations which I see now were not entirely what the coach would have recommended, such as making the Director of Graduate Studies wait at the photocopy machine while I copied a few pages for the professor with whom I was doing a work-study program. Testing my newfound skills would take me along a path I probably would have been wiser to avoid. But how was I to know. I was a housewife just starting to make my way in the world, making friends and joining new groups in which I felt more at home than I had for quite a long time, while married. 

I immersed myself in life on and off campus - working part-time, engaging in volunteer work, feminist and women’s activities, and joining the mature students' association at the university - as a single parent and a newly-single person.  Feminism was very strong in Canada at that time, in the late 80s and early 90s, although there was also a strong resistance, at least at Western in London, Ontario, to some of what was going on.  

Drawn to feminism, I marched in an abortion rally for the right to choose, and joined with others protesting the sale of pornographic magazines at the university variety store, an issue that drew heated protest from some male students. The value of participating in these activities seem questionable to me now.  To some extent I suppose I was just testing my newfound power, as a woman. Although over 40 years of age when I went to Western, I was new to this kind of politics and women’s activities. I was there when Marc Lépine killed 14 women at the Polytechnique in Montreal, at the Montreal Massacre, and was as horrified and sympathetic to the plight of women in general as any of us at the university. Years later I would come to understand this differently, however.

For a while I worked part-time in a book store in Cherryhill Mall, and doing caring work by the hour for a local company, both minimum wage jobs, all I could get after not having had a career or stayed working throughout my years raising children. Feminism definitely had a point there, emphasizing the need for women to become financially independent. I became involved with the Part-time and Mature Students’ Association at Western, working as secretary one year and then, as I became less shy and finding my voice, entered the exuberant atmosphere of student politics, as a representative of the PMSA. I liked being part of that, and the feeling I was doing something useful. 

While in London, living in Platt’s Lane, I was served papers by someone coming to my door. The reason was to officially notify me that my husband was going to divorce me, though I didn’t know why it was done in that manner. I had never tried to hide my whereabouts, and certainly wouldn’t have objected to the divorce. In fact, my son was still living with me at the time, and visted with his father, who also lived in London, I do believe. It probably would have been easier and cheaper to call me, or have the lawyer write, but sometimes they prefer to take the more complicated path, I guess.

I enjoyed my new social activities and friendships with women, as well exploring these new topics academically (gender and sexuality), through taking women’s studies courses as well as sociology. I enjoyed it all and figured I was getting a well-balanced perspective on society by taking both traditional Sociology coursework as well as Women’s Studies courses, and writing many essays over the 5 years. But the politics of it, and one particular experience, spoiled it all. 

I was harassed and blamed for an incident that was not my fault. I say it that way because I felt I was being blamed, and at first, no one was listening to me, certainly not the professor who, I can see now, just wanted it all to go away - and me, too.  Because he held the power, he was simply able to walk away when he saw me coming to speak to him, which I attempted to do because I was still taking a course from him, having come to the realization that he wouldn't want to talk about what happened.  My faith in the university system was destroyed. I was harassed  - and excluded - for making a complaint about what happened, and it was becoming apparent that the prof had a lot of supporters, among the women at university too. Later, while in Windsor, I would write a detailed essay on the incident, but at that time was still trying to understand it. More recently, I wrote a page-long description of the incident in response to someone asking about it.

Although I achieved my HBA in Sociology from Western(5), graduating at the same time as my daughter, London wasn’t as permanent a place for me as I had hoped. If I didn’t just fall into the accepted ways of the university social and competitive life, it was because I had not had that freedom before to engage in that manner, and now, being older, and having been kept under control in my marriage I wasn’t about to let that happen again. So outside of the academic aspect of it, I carried on in the way that seemed right for me personally - inquiring, learning, socializing, and trying to become attuned to my feelings and do what felt right for me. 

I was still naïve and made mistakes related to my new assertiveness and burgeoning political awareness that would haunt me throughout the years, while individuals who should have known better, and various others who took their side for one reason or another, made decisions about me and for me, which did me harm each time I moved on. Whether one calls it the snowball effect, gaining momentum as it continues its path, or the spiral one finds onself on, which can either go onward and upward or in the other direction, it is simply how things work in society. It was impossible to get off the path I found myself on. 

One final blow-up in the department, in an attempt to get things cleared up and back on the right path, led to nothing, unless it was evidence that it surely must have been all my fault, from start to finish. I was struck by the comment of the prof I was talking to (the original, his associate, not being available). As I was complaining about the way things were being handled, he retorted, Why don’t you get a gun and come back here and kill us all? I stopped for a second or too, confused about the change  in direction of the heated discussion. Later – much later – I realized what he had been doing. In the heat of the moment, all I had had to do was respond with passion, Yes, why not, I should, and he would have called security and I would have been banned from the university, possibly worse than that. When I think about their tactics, some of these people, it astounds me that they even do these sorts of things, knowing the possible consequences – to me, of course, not to them. Academia is serious business.

Changes had also been taking place within my family. Soon after starting university my daughter moved out on her own, leaving my son and I still living together. When my brother secretively took over the writing of my mother’s memoirs, that she and I had started together, I wondered if he had felt threatened by my getting an education and needed to show his authority over me. Even my mother didn’t say anything to me until she had to, when there were no longer any mailings to me of her writing for me to check and put onto the computer. But I had thought before she was probably inclined to heed his wishes more than mine. As the years went on he would increasingly impose his will on her, and me.
Liver Building, Liverpool,
England, photo taken 
 by Sue McPherson, 2004
The Hall 
School,  
Bratton 
Seymour, 
'50s 
Christine, 1970
Niagara Falls
Steve, self, Christine. 
West Hill Rd, 
Beachville, 1973
Beachville, xmas, 
Dennis, Kay, Sue, Christine, and 
Steve 1974
Beachville, Christine
 and Steve xmas 1974
Christmas, 1975  
Christine and Steven
self, Take-a-Break 
Beachville, 1976. 
Photo, Teresa Van Rees 
Christmas, 1977  
Steven & Christine
skating rink/tennis court, Beachville 1984. Steven, Christine, friends
Beachville 
Library, 1987
self with two
bass mounted
by me, 
Beachville, 
1987
St George's Pk, Bristol, UK, photo taken by me, 1964
Susan & Michael, Bristol, England, 
1947 or '48
Rayner Gardens. 
self, London, Ont. 1988. 
self, Sparky
& Steve, 
Beachville, 
1986
Jackson Park, Windsor, 1994
Hall School, now apartments, Bratton Seymour. photo by Sue McPherson, 2003
Platts Lane university residence, 1990
London, Ont. 
aerial view, Western, 1992
London, Ont. 
Graduation Day, Western, 1993. 
Dennis, self, Kay.
trilliums, Port Burwell Nature Reserve. 1990
Chinese Garden, Montreal 1995
UQAM, 
Montreal 1995
University of 
Windsor, Ont. Canada. 1996
Coventry Peace Garden fountain, Windsor, Ont. 1996
Aside from university activities, research, problems there, I had other interests, mostly out-of-town, although I did like to walk around Colchester and Wivenhoe Park, taking photos during the different seasons. Almost from the beginning, I started going to the Unitarian Meeting House in Ipswich. At some point I must have realized that my path was not going in the same direction as theirs, but while going there, it was an invaluable part of my life.  I also went to meetings of the Older Feminists’ Network in London, a gathering place for women who lived locally as well as from out of town. The group looked into concerns about women’s lives, writing letters and othewise dealing with political issues. And finally, whenever possible, I attended celebrations of Canadian holidays at Canada House in Trafalgar Square – notably Canada Day on July 1 – and various other get-togethers for University of Western Ontario alumni – always interesting events with fascinating people attending who had once attended Western or held positions with the governing body.

In 2000 I had contacted CAFAS - Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards – based in London, UK. I attended their meetings at Birkbeck College and wrote for the newsletter about my concerns, and got to hear about the problems that others were having in the field of education, with unresolved employment and other academic matters.  

One of the problems that I took to CAFAS was the second court case - my attempt to gain permission for judicial review at the Royal Courts, at The Strand, London, for which one must file an application and present it at court. The case (CO/4170/2000), was about my being discriminated against through not being rehired for the TA job teaching Research Methods. Athough I went through the proper channels for this case – the university itself and The Visitor, on March 22, 2001 the judge put it back onto the university to resolve. 

It was the practice of the department, I was informed more than once during the complaints process, that TAs were not necessarily hired on the basis of merit, but were simply given the opportunity to gain some experience teaching (see letter from the Students’ Union advice centre). I was told within my department that profs could hire whomever they liked. It was later on, after the court case, that I came across a vital piece of information. Instead of wasting time looking through the university documents for details of the employee contract, I had found my own - the teaching contract between me and the university for the previous year, clearly stating that employees were hired on the basis of merit.  

I needed to work so applied for job-seekers allowance while I sought a job in which I could use the skills I had, and knowledge in the area of aging in particular. I applied for many research jobs and related positions, across England and on occasion in Scotland and Wales, over the course of several years. I attended many interviews, but never got the job. I began to think that I was blacklisted and although there was no proof of that, there was one instance in which another interviewee seemed to possess the confidence someone could only have if they knew beforehand they had the job, arriving noncholantly half an hour late to the interview, from not far away within London, while I waited, through his arrival and interview, before getting my turn. Obviously, punctuality didn’t matter, but perhaps race did. Before I returned to Colchester, however, I took the opportunity to have a look at David Blaine, a ‘performance artist’ who sat in a glass cage suspended by London Bridge, so the day wasn’t a total loss. 

I was well-qualified for the jobs, and able to present myself well, for an over 50-year-old. But there was a gap in my cv that was impossible to explain without seeming to either be at fault or blaming someone or some academic institution. I got close, sometimes, to being accepted, but in the end, was rejected.  Later, I was encouraged by the Job Seeking Program to apply for a data entry job, but declined to do so. I had two degrees and had been working on a third. I had spent all my resources getting my education, and I believed I deserved something better than that. Apparently not.

In the hope I could continue my PhD elsewhere, I applied to other universities, but was not accepted. My situation was fragile to say the least, as once the university program ended I had to rely on social assistance to keep me going. The financial assistance I had been receiving from my ex-husband ended at the same time. I could have fought to try to prevent it from ending, as I was not yet self-sufficient, but the reality of the situation was that I had two degrees and, in their view, probably should have been. But taking into consideration that my marriage - and being a stay-at-home wife and mother – had left me disadvantaged in the workplace, I might have been able to fight it, had I still been in Canada. But I let it drop, as my life was complicated enough, and I still believed that the world was just and that the university and myself would eventually resolve the problems that prevented me from continuing the PhD and working as a TA.
Colchester, UK 1996 - 2007

So I moved to England in 1996, to Colchester, to do the PhD and possibly to settle and start a new life. I stayed in a room in someone’s home for the summer, then moved into residence at the university, which I shared with other international students. Almost immediately there were problems as I hadn’t realized I would be an overseas fee-paying student, rather than a home student. . I was British, and could pass freely from Canada to the UK, having the right to work in either country. I could pass freely from Canada to the UK, and was able to hold employment there. I felt more of a tie to England than they did towards me, as it turned out. Money was starting to be a problem as I needed to pay for room and board as well as double tuition fees, and I scarcely had enough, even with alimony from my husband to help.  I was able to work as a TA in the department, which helped, and tried to arrange for part-time fees and time off from studies to make it work. But money wasn’t the only problem.

The thesis supervisor I had had in Windsor must have decided my MA thesis wasn’t important enough to complete and ceased comunication, making it impossible for me to work towards completing the MA that summer, or afterwards. I realized later that the university in England must have wondered why I did not have the support from Canada to complete the degree. Knowing I didn’t have Canada’s support would have made it easer for them to make the decision to let me go from their program. We always think the system is fair, but when so many students apply to do a PhD, it does occur to us, at some point, that only a select few will be able to move forward with their degree and academic career.

University of Essex, UK.  1996 towers
residence 
University of Essex, UK.  1997 Library
University of Essex, UK.  1997. South Courts residence
Self, climbing the wall.
University of Essex,
Wivenhoe Park. 1997 
Self, St Botolph's Priory, Colchester, UK. 1999 
David Blaine, Tower Bridge, London, UK. 
and self, 2003 
Castle Park, Colchester, UK. 2005 
Bristol Harbour, Bristol, UK. 1997 
self, Woodstock, 
Ont. xmas, 1995
St John River,
 nr Fredericton, 
NB, Canada. 2004
Catholic Cathedral, 
Liverpool, UK. 2004
Univ of Western Ontario, London, Ont. 1999
Tymperley's Clock Museum Garden, Colchester, UK. 2001
I was stuck then seeking anything else a person can do with no practical experiences other than looking after a family fulltime for 20 years. And for that I received no references. I did look after an older lady with dementia for several months, and then got a job assisting in tax form preparation part time. After that, I applied for a job at a local newspaper selling classified ads, fibbing a little in telling the boss I only had one university degree, not two. The work was hardly fulfilling, and seemed to be a way for the bosses to find suitable candidates for their more in-depth selling techniques, a job I wasn’t interested in and for which I was hardly suitable. So I struggled to survive, and largely with financial help from my father, managed to keep things afloat. 

My father was in a retirement home, together with his new partner, a woman he and my mother had known before. I wished I could have more to do with helping him or them, but my brother and my daughter excluded me from any decision-making. Eventually, my father was moved into the longterm care section due to ill-health, and then within two weeks, my brother moved him 150 miles, away from his best friend – the new woman in his life - up to where he lived, for the sake of convenience. And within a few short weeks, Dennis was dead.  

My father, Dennis, had put on a lot of weight since being moved there and was only able to move around using a wheelchair. So he had gone downhill, and had more than one heart scare, resulting in stays in intensive care. On the night he died, my brother told me he was in the hospital, so I called, seeking information on his condition. Even though he was in Intensive Care, the nurse who took my call on the floor was unable to reach a nurse in that area who could talk to me about him. I was told to call back! I had no option but to do that, but suggested meanwhile that they try to have staff available another time, to take calls from relatives of patients in Intensive Care, and also mentioned the incident to my brother, as it was his community hospital.

My brother placed the notice in the paper, giving me one chance to make changes to the obituary – no back and forth of ideas, just his version and my initial thoughts on it. Thus, there was to be no funeral, the obituary stated. There would be a cemetery burial ceremony, but a private one for the family. And yet, neither my brother nor my brother showed up for it. They planned to have a ‘celebration of life’ for him with their own families, and not in Woodstock. So not only was I excluded from that, but I was also isolated further from the community I had lived in, and close to, for so many years, by the wording on the obituary notice. 

It was at this time – 2009 – that I broke my ankle, in the evening, and was taken to 
hospital for xrays. The Emergency Dr suggested I stay overnight and he would make 
an appointment for me to see the Orthopedic surgeon, as it looked as though I would 
need pins, the ankle being broken on each side. However, the surgeon did not keep 
our appointment, and simply looked at the xrays, and more than likely listened to the 
secretaries and whomever else worked there, who would have told him I had no 
husband and no job, and no home of my own. For whatever reason, the Dr didn’t keep 
the 9 am appointment, just phoned down to put a too-large walking cast put on my leg 
and have me go to the Fracture Clinic in a few days. So this was the beginning of the 
rest of my life living with chronic pain which prevented me from walking or living an 
ordinary life. I knew by then, if I didn’t before, how valuable a husband was, even if he 
as a jerk, having affairs and not appreciative of the work a wife does, or manipulating 
her reputation within the family and the community.

I wrote to Lakeridge hospital to lodge a formal complaint against the Orthopedic Surgeon and the treatment there, but at the end of it all I got was a letter thanking me for informing them. It seems there is nothing a person can do unless they have people to support them and fight alongside them. 

As the ankle started healing I decided I needed to go swimming, something I had not done for 10 years or so, as I had been unable to get to a swimming pool while living in the UK. Oshawa has several excellent pools, one geared especially towards disabled people’s needs. I started there, eventually moving on to a pool where I could swim lengths uninterrupted.  

But it seemed pointless to continue to live in a city where I had no history and no one knew me or knew of me (except for my son and his partner).
I applied for Old Age Security, knowing there would be questions asked about where I had been and for how long, that the application form didn’t cover. I had lived here for 40 years, graduated from high school, raised a family, worked, gone to university, earning 2 degrees, but that wasn't what they wanted to know. I felt I was being treated as a possible terrorist who had lived in a foreign country for ten years, their needing to know exactly when I left and when I returned, what I had done with my life being irrelevant to them. I think that not all immigrants to Canada now working for the civil service would be aware that the first explorers to arrive in Canada were European (eg John Cabot and Christopher Columbus), and that most Canadians with traditional British roots who emigrated here 50 years ago and moved away for a few years were unlikely to be terrorists, returning to blow up the parliament buildings in Ottawa. I was the only one in my family who was required to produce a record of our landing in Canada in 1957. Not my parents, nor my brother had to. I got that done, and on the last day of the month before I turned 65 I received the news that I had been granted the OAS.

The ankle problem has consumed my life, while opening it up to other interests at the same time – swimming, fitness room weights, a bit of bicycling, and keeping my car maintained, though not by me personally. The limitations of the chronic pain, worse at night, has meant I don’t accomplish as much as I would like during the day, or participate in ways I would, or could, if I had a chance to. The health system’s decision in 2012 or 2013 to clamp down on the overuse of narcotic painkillers such as Oxycontin has resulted in some people, including me, not even being able to get Tylenol 3 due to its codeine content.

Now that I am this far along in my life, I see that once a person’s life starts going downhill it is difficult to break out of that cycle even though the downhill spiral was not of my making (unless you count my research on the controversial subject of things sexual and not being appreciated due to my writing on the subject). Or was it more to do with the fact that I didn’t follow informal norms or belong to any one supportive, political group. I had tried that in Oshawa, for a while, but realized it wasn’t quite what I wanted to be involved with.

Most people will treat a person on the basis of how they see others treat them. And if malicious gossip and other mindgames are combined with that mentality then a great deal of harm can be done, not only to a person’s reputation but to their wellbeing – their physical existence on this earth – where they live, their healthcare, how they are treated at community activities and by local groups and the individuals in them who have the power to influence others and use their power in harmful ways. Living in London, for me, has not been the most pleasant of experiences. 

Sometimes people act out of self-preservation, I think, as for them it must seem as though the only way to make sure they maintain their place in society – at their place of work for instance – is to destroy the other person’s reputation. And many times it can be difficult for people to figure out which is the truth of the matter, and which is not. And that is why most people simply follow the path laid out for them by their secretaries or colleagues so they don’t have to try to figure it out themselves. I would add bosses to that except I think they are usually oblivious to what is really going on under their noses, or are being subjected to spin and hearing only distortions of the truth.  

I am no longer part of the university community in London, and haven’t been for a long time, though I have been to the library occasionally since returning. At least that is open to me. Alumni events either don’t interest me or would entail more energy and attentiveness than I can muster up at this time. When I was a student in England, however, it was entertainment to look forward to, at alumni get togethers at Canada House, and also the July 1 Canada Day celebrations there, where we would have Canadian beer with cake (once cut and served by honorary guest, actor Don Sutherland). Finally, one Canada Day the room was so crowded with young people on hand to listen to the live entertainment from Canada that the decision was made to hold it outside the House the next year, in Trafalgar Square.

In 2012, I went to see my ex-husband, in his home, and stayed through the week, recalling both good and bad memories of our life together, and seeing a bit of the countryside in the north. The world always did revolve around his work, his interests, his friends, and his way of seeing things, and it still does, for him. Seeing him again hasn’t resulted in any kind of resolution, except to see that we are very different from one another with an overlap of some interests, mostly related to the North and the natural environment. One of the last practical things he did for me was to open the door of my car which had become frozen solid, not having been driven for a week. As he put his shoulder to it and tugged on the door it suddenly opened, hitting him forcefully, leaving a bloody cut above his eye. I didn’t know whether to thank him or apologise!   added July 23/13
      Story of my Life
                  by  Sue McPherson
http://samcpherson.homestead.com/homepage.html

This page is undergoing revision (since Jan 2013). Please excuse the disruption. It will be sorted out  - - - continued - New additions or changes in bold since May, 2013. Last added to, Aug 4, 2013
Until now, the story of my life that I had here on this page was actually a summary – quite short with the emphasis on the main events of my life. In January, 2013, I decided to rewrite my life narrative, including more details about who I am, life events, with some social and historical insights.  

I was born in Bristol, England, in 1946, soon after WWII ended. My name at birth was Susan Fulham. I don’t recall too much about those early years, except what was told to me later on, although I do seem to have a recollection of being on the roundabout in St George’s Park and wanting to get off. When I was four years old we moved to Bratton Seymour(1), a village in Somerset. Then, at Christmas, we would take the long trip up to Bristol, by car, to visit with my father’s side for a few days. The Fulhams were from Bristol, though the name ‘Fulham’ is the name of a district in London. The adults would go to the Boxing Day football match, leaving the children and teens to amuse themselves. 

During the war my father had served overseas with the British Eighth Army and my mother had been a Phys. Ed. teacher. Now, my mother became games mistress at The Hall School(2), a private school for girls, my father was the caretaker, and after some time at pre-kindergarten and presumably at kindergarten at Hadspen House, I became a day girl at the Hall School in Bratton Seymour.

I recall taking swimming lessons at Street, in an unheated outdoor pool, and a long drive for all of us girls, probably made by Billy Bendal, who provided such service at the Hall School.  
For seven years we lived in a 14th century cottage for the school’s staff, which had no telephone or electricity, the nearest shop being about a mile and a half away, downhill. It was a route we travelled many times on our bicycles, with great joy in one direction only. My closest friend lived close to a mile away. I recall one young child who lived next door, who would call out very loudly “Milko” when the milkman came to our house. Such was the extent of outside influence on my life too, living in the countryside without tv, two working parents, a brother at boarding school, and hardly fitting in with the other girls who boarded at the Hall School.
St George's Pk,
Bristol, UK, photo 
by me, 1964
Susan, Bratton Seymour, 1952
Susan & Michael, Bristol, England, 1947 or '48
Dennis's sister Doris, 
Kay, Susan, and 
Michael & Jennifer, 1950. 
Weston-super-Mare. 
Susan, Michael, cousin Carol, neighbour Margaret and her horse. Bratton Seymour, 1953
3 photos taken on 1964 trip to Bratton Seymour
1.  First of the 2 cottages we lived in; 
2.  Hadspen House (kindergarten);  3. Hall School. Kay. 
Every November 5th the school held their Guy Fawkes night. My father looked after preparations for the event, the pile of wood gradually growing into a mountain, onto which, when the fire was lit and burning fiercely, the older girls would toss an effigy of Guy Fawkes, tossing out sparks and a roar of flames, exciting everyone. The event was made complete with sparklers and a tremendous display of fireworks. 

My mother taught sports, gym, and folk dancing at the school. On May day, in the fifties, her pupils would demonstrate their dancing skills, dancing around a maypole on the front lawn of the Hall school – in and out, round and round – until the pole was braided. In 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated throughout England and the world. I recall tables set up, and cake and a souvenir mug, but we didn’t have a tv to watch it on, not at the school nor at home.

In 1957, when I was ten, I emigrated to Canada with my mother and my brother Michael, my father having gone beforehand to his sponsor's home to make preparations for us.  Back then, emigrants were required to have a family willing to give the newcomer a home until he was able to find a job and a home for his own family, who already would have tickets for a later passage. We were lucky that our neighbour down the road in Bratton Seymour had a sister in Woodstock, Ontario, and it was to their home – that of the Fire Chief’s – that he travelled to, from Liverpool, England, via Montreal, and from there by train to Woodstock. My mother was left to complete the final preparations for our voyage – after she had made sure the player piano was moved out before Dennis left (see Recollections of Nan Downham, 2002,  http://samcpherson.homestead.com/files/Liverpool/NanDownham.htm ). She had to make sure we had our vaccinations and got our passports, and that the trunks were packed and that anything that wouldn’t fit was discarded, given away, sold, or burned. Too many photo albums, no matter how precious, ended up with some being burned on a fire in the back yard. We took the boat-train to Liverpool, then the 7-day voyage across the Atlantic to Montreal, on the Empress of France. [Added July, 2013] 
Dennis, Kay, Susan, Michael,
Bratton Seymour, 1954
                          Canada

Arriving in Woodstock, Ontario, as a shy 10 year old was a daunting experience. For the first time in my life (except for a brief time in North Cadbury, UK) I was attending a school with both girls and boys. I was unused to the attention I received, as a new student or perhaps just as a new girl. That first summer, one of the first things I did was join up for swimming lessons at the Lions Pool, which happened to be right next door to where we lived.

For the next forty years or so I lived in the Woodstock area, in south-western Ontario. My family moved about once a year until 1962 when we finally acquired a home. I grew up in Woodstock, spending much time at the YWCA where my mother was Phys Ed Director. I worked a couple of summers at the Ontario Hospital, graduating from high school in 1965(4). It was probably quite an ordinary adolescence, considering I grew up in the fifties and sixties. 

The 60s sexual revolution has been blamed for the beginning of a new approach to sex and relationships, but those norms didn’t change simultaneously in every part of Canada, or North America, or the countries influenced by British/American rock, such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Elvis.

In 1964 I accompanied my mother on a trip to England, for some sightseeing and to visit friends and relations. I was 17, and we rented a car so I could drive the two of us around England. After that first time, my father always went with her.
We used to go out on the motorcycle together from time to time. On one occasion, before we moved to Beachville, as I recall, something happened while we were out. My parents were looking after Christine, and we planned to meet up later at John and Joan's, on the farm, for a barbeque. Rounding a curve on a country road, the motorcycle went onto the shoulder then into the ditch, hitting bumps and finally coming to a dead stop, tossing Walter off (I think) and throwing me over the handlebars. I turned a somersault in the air and landed hard on the back of my neck, sliding like that over the ground. Then I went up again and over, landing directly on the base of my spine – on my backside. I got up but immediately felt all the air leaving my lungs in a long, long, exhalation. I had been winded, though it felt worse than that at the time, as though I would never breath again. I took my helmet off, and realized there was dirt all around my ears and in my hair. And my back hurt. 

There was no one around, and this was pre-cellphone era, so the best option was to get back on the motorcycle and ride 10 miles or so to the hospital in Tillsonburg, where I had an xray taken and was sent home. It was a long ride to Woodstock, with every bump in the road causing pain. We went home to clean up, then off to the barbeque, as planned. 

My husband didn’t want me to mention the accident to anyone so I didn’t. At one point we were encouraged to play a game of badminton, and although it was the last thing I wanted to do I did anyway, feeling pain every time I landed on my feet after jumping for the bird. A few days later I received a phone call from my Dr saying he had received the xrays and that I had a compression fracture of my spine and to take it easy for several weeks – no heavy lifting or scrubbing kitchen floors – and presumably, no bike riding or playing badminton.

Keeping silent about things that happened were part of my life and always had been, while growing up. My mother never spoke to me after the terrible rows she and my father had, or the violent episodes, so I never understood them. I’m not sure if I was part of a generation that just didn’t talk about such things or whether it is the way people are in general, maintaining the illusion of happiness and content within the family, while in reality, each one is struggling – some aggressively, some passively – to find meaning and a sense of themselves as worthy in the world. I know my father struggled with this, in a marriage with a woman determined to work. At the time, I thought he was unfair to my mother, and only later came to understand what it must have been like for him. And yet, even though I lived for my family and gave Walter whatever he wanted, he seemed to have no respect for me.

I remember once, when my daughter was a young teenager, she had a friend come to visit who attracted a fair bit of attention from the boys in the neighbourhood, resulting in me becoming angry at her for not behaving herself in the way I thought she should. She seemed to be used to having a good deal of freedom to do as she pleased, but as I saw it, she was getting ahead of herself, in terms of going through adolescence and growing up. That was a decade or two after I married, at which time in history social change was just starting to happen - the 60s sexual revolution and the fight for reproductive rights - the second wave of feminism. But this had little or nothing to do with me. It seemed to pass me by, and I simply got married and fell into that pattern of life - a traditional kind of marriage in which the husband was the patriarch of the family - the provider, while I took care of him and our home and raised the kids - the kind of 'good wife' that was more than just a myth. So while society was changing, we weren’t keeping up with it, and even though things always were different for men anyway in terms of sexual freedom, men's attitudes towards their wives could take time to move past their insistence on the double standard. 

And yet, even when I did finally have the freedom to do what I wanted, such a casual approach to sex wasn't something that appealed to me. To me, the easing of the double standard in a way that encourages women to behave as callously as men in their relationships - is less than desirable for society. Sexual 'liberation' hasn't made women free of constricting roles. It has just changed what those roles are, in some cases. (Added June 7)

I wanted those kind of opportunities that other women had, either within marriage or divorced from it. I took a university course over the summer, and another, both in Sociology. This no doubt contributed to my becoming increasingly dissatisfied with marriage, especially as the children were now teenagers and I realized as I passed through into my 40s that those days of being needed as a fulltime mother – or even a part-time one - would soon be over.

The marriage ended in late 1986, after almost reaching the twenty year mark, and in 1991 he applied for a divorce. Looking back, had I realized it, the better solution would have been to save our marriage, but neither of us knew how to do that, and there was no one, professional or otherwise, who could help, and inevitably the end came. I realized later that we had gone through our marriage not paying attention to what was happening in society, but living the way that we understood was how marriage was supposed to be – patriarchal, with the man the authority. Changing that perspective was starting to happen in my life, though I think it was more difficult for the man in that situation, always having been the one with power, laying down the rules. Since then I have discovered a lot more about marriage (and being single), and about ‘work’. 

(added May)
The economy had changed, over those years I was raising children, so getting back into the work force was not so easy, not at the level I used to be working at. I was still managing the library in Beachville, up until 1988, but our marriage was over and the house needed to be sold, and I wanted to start again, in Woodstock. Jobs were not as abundant as they were in the 60s and 70s, but I found one at an answering service for local businesses, working all hours of the day and night. That’s when I started thinking seriously about returning to university to get my degree. I had taken a couple of courses through continuing education, held at the high school in Woodstock, which was a start. 

I decided to move to London to attend Western, which was where my daughter was also to be starting that fall and my son would be attending a new high school. Having graduated from Grade 13 I didn’t foresee any problems academically, despite the earlier attempt in Winnipeg. I was older now – a mature student – ready to work hard for what I wanted. My children and myself moved up to London, to a chaotic lifestyle – three people seeking their own individual path in life. 

Studying Sociology and Women’s Studies was in part an attempt to figure out what I wanted to do with my life while learning about gender and sexuality, topics far beyond what I was familiar with. At that time I still thought it was my choice to decide, not that there would be numerous obstacles in my path, some of them due to the effect that the 20 years of marriage had had on me, as well as my earlier family life with two parents vying for power, and a brother who was raised to know his rights. Discovering more about what it meant to be a woman, and learning about sexuality and the aging process, as well as about ‘work,’ would be the subject of my studies and research for several years.  

There was more yet to come, however, though different from what I had experienced in my marriage. Had I known that these sexual matters would still be a problem at university and elsewhere in the ‘real’ world, I might have been better prepared for what lay ahead. It wasn’t just in marriage that sex could become an issue, combined with other problems of one-sided dominance. At one point I went to my parent’s home to escape the situation, but my mother suggested I go home again. I think it was what she would have done – a ‘you made your bed now sleep in it’ kind of person. Besides that, she knew nothing of what our marriage was like. One has to be living in it to be able to see it at all – like the episode with the motorcycle and my husband not wanting me to tell anyone, even my mother, about the accident. Within a few short years, however, as my memories of incidents within their marriage returned to me, she and I would become closer in some ways.  But I was now moving forward, to a new life at university in London, an adult yet naïve when it came to negotiating that hazardous path, and not keen on jumping into a sexual relationship or casual sex for that matter, nor sex for grades. 
(added May)

It's one thing for a man to treat a woman the way he had learned within his family, but quite another for a man to use academic knowledge to coerce women into bending to his will - whether knowingly or not. I say that because so often men think it's all just a bit of fun. The difference between before and what was to come was that the educated are more likely to realize that subjecting their partners to force won't work indefinitely unless some greater reward than the personal experience is offered. And as feminism progressed, women were not as likely to consider a home and family reason enough to put up with men's bad behaviour. But beyond that, encountering women in the university environment who were equally as likely to use their power to get men to bend to their will was also a possibility, as was discovering how ruthless they could be in getting rid of any competition or opposition. 
I was 20 and Walter was 23 when we married, in 1967, and while I threw myself into the task of being a good wife, I also worked, taking on a job as a cost clerk in Woodstock. My husband, like many other men of the time, was insistent that I not continue working, so starting a family seemed like a good idea after a couple of years. I hadn’t realized the importance to women of having paid work, and jobs were plentiful and easy to find. Besides that, I wanted to remain at home while my children were small. I had often wished my mother had been at home for me while I was growing up. The separation between home and work seemed more inflexible in our marriage than it had in my parents, possibly due to WW II temporarily encouraging women in England to go to work while the men fought in the war.  

​While raising a family I worked - part-time - as a physiotherapy assistant, doing income tax preparation, working in a Department store, then later managing the branch library in Beachville, the village where we lived.  I became a mother at a time when cloth diapers were still the best choice, disposables being used only when away on holidays. The hospital stay was usually the standard 5 days, largely due to the method of delivery – through episiotomy and stitching up, a rather painful procedure practiced by my family doctor, thought to be beneficial to the patient’s husband. I breast-fed both my children for a while, though Steven needed more than I had, as he required feeding every 3 hours, the doctor said, for the first while. He wasn’t always hungry when the time came, but the doctor said, so despite his putting on more weight than seemed necessary, that was what he got, from infant formula. I didn’t know enough to question what the doctor advised, but gradually learned, over time, that they weren’t always the experts they were made out to be.

Much of our life together during holidays was spent on or near water - fishing, boating, waterskiing, camping, and hiking.  A favourite spot for camping, fishing, exploring, canoing and waterskiing was Bon Echo Provincial Park, and our dog Sparky was always part of that. We went to other parks, and cottages, mostly in the north, while my husband would regularly go off on fishing trips or to a hunting camp, or motorcycling.  I liked to play tennis and swim locally, in Ingersoll, so I was still able to be at home when required. 

Added Aug 4, 2-13
Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, UK. 1997 
I  graduated from Woodstock Collegiate Institute in 1965. While in my last year - Grade 
13 - I had decided to become a physiotherapist, having seen its practical worth while being 
treated following a a car accident a year earlier when the Volkswagen was struck by a car 
that failed to ‘yield to the right’. I took the program offered in Winnipeg, but didn’t get 
enough studying done in order to progress to second year. I had lost my chance for a 
career and I was disappointed, but the experience was memorable for me, living in a 
large city, and with a different culture and people than I was used to - and a much harsher climate. I also got to meet Christina M Bevan (a great-aunt, sister to my grandfather, John McPherson), as well as her daughter Harriet. As a keepsake she gave me the silver charms from Hong Kong and a bridge card table cloth that he had given to her.  Once home again, I worked the summer as a physiotherapy assistant before moving 30 miles away, to London. I found a job and resumed my relationship with the man I would marry, though once married, we would move back to the Woodstock area. 
Moose, 2004
New Brunswick, Canada
Liver Building, (pronounced fiver) 
Liverpool, UK. 2004
Woodstock, xmas. Kay, Dennis, self. Steve, Chris. 1988.
Rayner Gardens, Ldn.  self, 1988
Platt's Lane 
univ residence, London. 1990.
Pt Burwell 
Nature Res. 
trilliums, 1990
Aerial view, Western, 1992. 
London, Ont,
Kay, self, & Michael. 1957. 
Ford car, '49, 
'50, or '51 model. 
green Volkswagen - the car I learned to drive on. 1963. Woodstock, Ont. 
Dennis, self, Kay. 1958. Family trip to Muskoka
WCI cadets, 1962. Woodstock Ont. 
YWCA Float, Victoria Day parade, 1962. 
self, 1963
self, Kay, 
1964 - on plane to England. 
Picadilly Circus, London, England.
1964
Stratford-
upon-Avon.
Kay's sister
Lesley, & Kay. 1964.
Platt's Lane, London. self with Tigger. 1991.
Platt's Lane, 
London, 1991. 
Steve, Chris, self. 
Univ of Western Ontario. Sociology, self. 1993
self, 
Woodstock, 
Ont. 1968
self, Steve & Christine. 1973
Woodstock, Ont.
Christine, 
Niagara Falls, 1970
Christine & 
self, 1969. Woodstock.
self with Steve
 & Christine.
West Hill Rd, Beachville, 
Ont. 1973
self, Steve & Christine. 1975
Bon Echo, Ont.
Wildwood, self
waterskiing.
1980.  
self, 1976.
Take-a-Break. 
Photo, Teresa van Rees. Beachville.

Christine with Steve. 
home-made quilt. 1975 
West Hill, Beachville.
Christine & Steve. xmas 1975. West Hill Rd, Beachville.
Lucky's 7 pups, 
Christine, Walter, Steve. Beachville
1977
Steve & Christine. 1977. Beachville.
Kay's retirement, OCRC, Woodstock, Ont. 1980.  
Graham St. Woodstock. Dennis's retirement. 1983
self with 2 fish mounted by me.
Beachville, 1987
Beachville
Library.  1987
skating rink/tennis court. Beachville, 1984. Steven, Christine, friends.
self, Steve & Sparky.
1986. Beachville.
Paternoster lift, self. University of Essex Library, UK.  1997 
Woodstock
CityHall, 
Blenheim, 
UK. 1964.
Kay, her sister Elizabeth, 
with family members.
Winnipeg. 
1966. Great-aunt
Christina Bevan, daughter Harriet
Winnipeg after snow storm.
Jan 1966
Dennis & Ruth. Woodstock. 2007
Crematorium
3 photos
Arnos Vale
Cemetery, 
Bristol UK
1997
Bramble bush - area of hidden Fulham graves
Arnos Vale - 
view from road 
in opposite direction from bramble bush
Wolfville 
Acadia Univ, Nova Scotia. 
2006
Canning Lookoff.
Nr Wolfville, 
Nova Scotia. 
2006
garden and  path, 1986
West Hill Rd, Beachville
Steve & Christine.
Halloween, 1974. Beachville.
Empress of France,
 image from menu, 1957 
Walt & Sue wedding 
1967
Returning to my hometown of Woodstock wouldn’t make sense as by now I felt I wanted to live in a place with a university. Although Windsor had been a good place to live while doing the MA, I didn’t have either a past there nor saw possibilities for the future. I did think that I would like to return to London, Ontario, as I had lived there twice before in my life, first when I was about 19, and then when I went to university in my forties, thus London had always been a part of my life, holding good memories as well as memories of tumultuous events. London was only 30 miles away from where I grew up, and had been the big city for me. And it was there, under the spell of menopausal transformation and the chance to do my BA in Sociology – as a single-again, older woman - that I explored and grew fond of other aspects of the city – the gardens, the nature walks, the nightlife, and the friends I made there, within the university and in the community.

When I returned to London once again in 2011 it was as a stranger – or worse. I was an older woman, alone, not a homeowner, and most connections I had had were gone or lost to me. This was where the original problem with the university professor had happened, and where women who supported their men’s bad behaviour didn’t like people like me, who thought about it and wrote about it.  

I moved into an apartment I had rented in Old South. When I had lived in London with my teenagers it was in a rented house which turned out to be not such a great place to live, so after my daughter found a place elsewhere, my son and I moved into accommodation for students with families at Platt’s Lane. 

Now, in 2011, living in London was very different from the other times. My health was not as good as it had been, so my activities were limited. I was no longer a student, a status which may have indicated to some that at least I had potential. Instead I was on the verge of retirement. The apartment was in a house which would probably be thought of as a temporary residence, until a person gets a more permanent place or back on their feet. But for me it was home, and there were plenty of tall trees for that cottage in the woods ambiance - the natural look, complete with growing brush pile.  

For now, I am writing the story of my life, on the first website I started, and telling my thoughts on the news on my blog or directly in comments’ sections in online newspapers. Recently, in 2013, newspapers have started charging online readers, excluding readers who don’t pay, sometimes limiting us to a minimum number of free articles each month. Thus, instead of accessing the news through the most convenient source, I must now search more newspapers to find out what is going on in Canada and the world. added July 23, 13

When I do write, more often my focus is on what I perceive to be social injustices - people being treated unfairly by our justice system and by society in general, with gender no longer being the main determinant, as it was at one time. In fact, I see feminism as part of the problem. I realized that years ago, when I started to understand what Marc Lépine must have gone through, to commit the killings in the Montreal Massacre.

Recently, responding to an article in the London Free Press, I experienced another disappointment and reminder that my efforts to contribute from what I know, in what I see as a useful way, are not appreciated and not understood. But worse, it was the way my attempt to deal with serious issues (youth unemployment and homelessness) was treated in the comments’ section – with casual contempt.


If I can’t be part of the university community in any real way, or even have my work recognized by them – or anybody, despite having two degrees and a passion for the kind of writing and thinking that that entails, and if the community I live in isn’t interested in what I have to offer, then it makes life even more difficult. I know that people say to never give up, and to keep doing what you love to do, but without feedback and some indication that what I do is seen as worth doing, it gets difficult to find the energy and motivation to continue. Especially with health needs not being met adequately, in my view, for someone who needs to be able to concentrate, it gets to be a matter of doing it when I can and setting it aside when I can’t. 

Another one of my websites has the title Trees and Towns, and I thought of that recently when discussions were taking place online about a shopping mall planned for the southern border of London, which would mean removing a natural woodlot and pond area. Due to mobility problems I don’t get out walking too much, and don’t get the chance to take photos as I once did, though I still have a few that should be uploaded to the website. London is known as the Forest City, and its environment used to reflect that. If it keeps going the way it has been, soon it will be known as the shopping capital of Ontario, along with the dubious reputation, in my view, of being the ‘Cougar Capital’ of Canada. How many people still here are asking themselves, should I stay or should I go?
​Added July 23, 2013
Family Weddings 
Despite the good times, I realized finally that our marriage was too controlling, while ‘the other half’ had the freedom and the resources to live life on his own terms. Awareness for me came in different ways, one, through the relationship itself which was deteriorating, second, learning about the influence feminism had on society, another way through being a volunteer with Community Options for Justice – using the library as a placement. All this opened my eyes to seeing other ways of living and contributing to a better society, and left me wanting to be able to participate more instead of family life and husband always being put first. 

After all, even when I gave birth I did it without my husband being present – his choice, another aspect of separation of home and work for him – and most of my life was spent caring for children, pets, and the home and property, while he went to work away from home, on the road, able to enjoy his freedom as well as the sense of worth that comes with having a steady job. He was at home when I went into labour with Christine, and drove me to the hospital, but went to work as usual, before she was born, after about 5 hours of labour. For Steve, we were fishing at a local pond when my water broke, and went to the hospital, a good three weeks early. The Dr prescribed bed rest, so with Christine’s aunt to take care of her, I remained in hospital for the next five days, when I came to realize I was in labour. I let Walter know, but he decided to go to work as usual, and Steven was born at about 11 am that morning. Not long after that we had sold the house in Woodstock and moved to Beachville. 
2001 Kay and Dennis                             60th wedding anniversary
1967 
Walter and Susan
       divorced
1963
Lynda and Michael
         divorced
1977
Michael and Valerie
self, Sparky, & Walter.
 1985. Bon Echo
Christine, Steve 
& self. 1974. Beachville.
If we didn’t epitomize the typical man and wife of patriarchal society I don’t know who did. We weren’t middle class, and I emphasize that because I have heard young people say that the stay-at-home mother was a middle class phenomenon, whereas the reality was that it was simply the man as breadwinner and protector of the family, the wife as homemaker, mother and moral guardian for the children. Traditionally, the man was allowed - morally - to do whatever he liked outside the family structure, and often within it too – and was not for that, whereas in western society today, many women have the same freedom as their men, to engage in whatever behaviours they choose. I’m not sure why, but although I went to church as a child, as a teenager to another church, and joined yet another church after our marriage ended, while married I never attended church at all. Perhaps the reason was that my husband hadn’t. Eventually - later - I gave up trying to find a faith – or religion – that was right for me. The Unitarian Univeralists combined social concerns with religion, while Pantheism for me meant accepting one’s place within the natural world or, for others, the acceptance of diverse kinds of gods and faiths. It all sounded fine to me – more to do with life in our world than Christianity alone, or any other set of religious beliefs.

While married I made most of my own clothes as well as my children’s. It was something I had always enjoyed, from taking Home Ec (Home Economics) at high school. Family get togethers were a regular part of married life, as were parties and socializing with friends. We always had a piano – or if we didn’t my parents did – just as we did when I was a child. Though lessons didn’t do me much good, my mother played, and we always had a go at chopsticks on holidays with the kids. Added Aug 4, 2013

There were always cats and dogs, and various other pets throughout the years. When Lucky had her seven puppies, which were put up for sale soon afterwards, I was reluctant to let the puppy with the limp go. The mother had had problems giving birth, and after talking to the vet, I managed to help Lucky deliver the puppy that seemed to be stuck, pulling on its legs so it eventually was born. Whether out of a sense of responsibility or due to my tendency to stick up for the underdog, especially as time went on, I hadn’t wanted to see the little guy go with the remaining puppies. I guess I knew he didn’t stand a chance. 

I tried to be a good parent although, on looking back, I see I got some things wrong, and recognized how traditional I was in some ways, maintaining familiar gender roles within the family. As time went on, I wanted my daughter to make sure she had a career so she could have more independence than I had. Growing up, my son tended to do his own thing, just the way he evolved, naturally, as a male in our society, I think. I began to see my parents’ marriage in a different light. I thought if I didn’t work because my husband objected to it, but tried to be understanding and accommodating, that I could avoid the turmoil of my parents’ marriage that I, being the only child living at home most of the time, became involved in, as the third person. I see now I knew nothing of how the world worked.