Eleanor Jane Mair, our daughter, died on the 21st April in Ninewells Hospital, as result of trauma caused by alcoholism. She was a beloved and loving person, who cared for everyone except herself, bringing joy through what she was but also sorrow through what she was doing to herself. She is with God.)
(For back story read Where shall we meet? 1-4)
M: I’ve been thinking about the way we brought you up, especially as a teenager, recognising that we allowed you the freedom you demanded without considering how skewed in favour of males was the society you entered. I imagine you found yourself pressured by older boys for sex, even while you counted them as mates. We failed to prepare you for that.
E: At first, everything was wonderful; hormones, music, dance, boys, sexual exploration.Then it wasn’t; innocence, ignorance, rape. Not that I called it rape then; it was what was expected of girls. Eventually I found that I could protect my body with my mind: I could be smarter than them, manage them, while still remaining popular. I was competent because I could think, foresee, plan. I even became a trusted part of the music scene, organising entry at the most popular club in the city.
So I was a success, but wounded and oppressed by relationships in which men dominated.
We should have been wiser on your behalf, although you probably wouldn’t have thanked us then. But tell me about, about M, let’s call him that, seeing he’s still alive in this world. You were committed, you set up house together.
I was in love. He was a farm boy, different from the schoolboys I’d known, wilder, more naive, generous, energetic, animal. But, as I discovered, possessive, jealous, violent. I tried to manage the household, shopped, cooked, cleaned, while he wasted money. We got seriously in debt. He hit me often. I began to drink seriously as a way of managing myself and him.
Why didn’t you tell us?
Because I thought you despised him as uneducated.
I didn’t, you know. At first I was happy because you were walking, climbing and camping with him. Sometimes I joined you and enjoyed his company as a young man; a bit of competition and some mutual respect. I remember you telling us to stop racing one another on the hill so that you could walk comfortably.
Bright days on many hills, in the Cairngorms and Torridon. M strong, delighted, at peace. Most of my first times on Munroes were with him. Wet days too, huddled in damp bothies, with huge backpacks. We discovered our land together.
Yes, I remember meeting you and M on a suddenly mild New Year’s day in Kinlochewe, to climb Liathach, a mighty hill. Plowtering through wet snow to reach the ridge with Tara your dog. A good day on the hill followed by your good cooking and some beers. But then after an argument over a quiz he lost his temper and smashed a pane of glass with his hand. Blood spilt everywhere, he ran off for hours.
I tried so hard to make it work, but he didn’t try, and he continued to hit me. By the time we split I had a huge debt, a drink problem, and a conviction that I wasn’t worth much.
I helped your finances but not your self -respect.