I have a letter in my possession.
The letter was written by my grandfather Joseph Seaman, and I am led to believe that it was the last correspondence he sent to his son before he eventually passed away in 1961.
The text of the letter is as follows:
Just a line to let you know that I have recovered from my ailment and am back at Delphside again. I would have wrote before but but with having no material for writing with me and of course with being ill I have not felt like doing anything at all believe me.
Well son don’t worry about me now because I am allright now to a certain extent I have to go back in a months time but I don’t suppose they will keep me in although one leg has gone septic since I have come out but I am under thier doctor so think it will be alright but you have enough worry of your own without mine well son don’t worry to much about it, because its just one of those things give my regards and thats the lot.
I haven’t yet found a photograph of my grandfather as an adult and my mother’s last memory of him is of a hospital visit she made to see him. She can’t recall which hospital, or just who went with her to visit him, but she does remember that he started to cry at the time. My Dad couldn’t visit as often as he would have liked to, and as can be seen by the content of the letter, it seems he was actively dissuaded to do so by his father himself.
In researching the letter I found that ‘Delphside’ was one of the previous names for a part of, what is now called Whiston Hospital, Prescot, near Liverpool. The institution originally had opened in 1843 to house the mentally ill, but it also became a Poor Law Infirmary – a place where both the mental and physical health needs of the poor in the surrounding districts were catered for. At the time when my grandfather was there, the hospital had wards which catered for people with infectious diseases and also had a wing which provided respite care. I think my grandfather may have been in one of the latter wards when he composed the letter.
After I was given this document by my mother I was touched by it in a number of ways.
My grandfather’s written words provided me with a small insight into what he had been going through in relation to his health perhaps, and also went some way to support the facts my mother could remember about him. I had also been rather frustrated through not being able to find an adult photograph of him, therefore I found it an immense privilege to be able to hold in my own hands the three pieces of paper on which he had written.
However, I realized a little later that there was one further detail contained in the text which would perhaps prove to be more important to me than any of the others.
On the second page Joseph wrote to my father; ‘…but you have enough worry of your own without mine…’. The letter itself was not dated, however the postmark on the envelope confirmed that it had been posted at 6.30pm on 14 June 1956. This date was significant, for eleven days later a baby was born to my mother in Sefton General Hospital, Liverpool.
That new baby, the ‘worry’ my grandfather mentioned in his letter, was me.
Joseph eventually died on 18th December 1961 at Whiston Hospital after suffering a stroke, brought on by pneumonia and bronchitis. He was 58 years old – a year older than I now am as I write this.
From what I understand, my grandfather spent the final years of his life being treated in hospital, and not once does my mum remember taking myself or my brother in to visit him, a fact which I find very sad indeed. However, it gives me some satisfaction in knowing that although I did not get to physically meet him, I realize that at least on this one occasion I have proof that he thought of me.
I have certainly thought of him many times since.