Taking Kathleen Home…


Taking Kathleen Home?

Taking Kathleen Home… (an excerpt from ‘Beyond Personal Pronouns’)

Kathleen Ann White, (1936-1956). Kathleen was the first of six—born into, what would have been considered a lower-middle-class family—‘owner-occupiers of a semi-detached property in the newly created suburbs of the City of Southampton. Dad’s first love was music but, in order to pay the bills, worked as a policeman in the City of Southampton Police Force. Kathleen was a healthy child until the age of three, and thereafter, for sixteen years, suffering from serious ill-health.

Although we were an ‘areligious’ family (CofE for the official records), Kathleen’s continued ill-health had provoked a journey into the healing opportunities etc., offered by, in particular, Spiritualism, though mum & dad had tried all the others. Kathleen died in 1956 at the age of nineteen & a half. After Kathleen’s passing, dad, in particular, continued his engagement with this particular form of (Christian) Spiritualism (Mum never recovered from the loss of Kathleen, dying at the age of sixty-three some twenty years after Kathleen’s passing)—that there were another five siblings could never fill the void of the loss of a child.

I have rather vague memories of life in our newly built (the late 1930s) home in ‘Regents Park’—apart from images of being carried into the newly built Anderson Shelter located in the garden of the soon to be demolished three-bedroomed semi-detached house. The Anderson Shelter—as with the rest of the house was flattened in around 1944. Fortuitously, apart from dad, who was out at the time, the family were living at the grandparents’ house in Bournemouth, where Granddad played in the woodwind section of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra. I still retain vivid memories of American Tanks in the street of our rented property in Upper Hill Lane, Southampton—as well as vivid memories of the Sun, seemingly, blocked out by aircraft passing overhead to Southampton Water and the Channel. My most vivid memory of mum is of her sitting in the backroom of our, recently re-built semi in ‘Regents Park’, Southampton, playing over and over Joseph (McLaughlin) Locke’s recording of ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen’. The memory still brings forth a tear. There followed years of searching for a means of encouragement from ‘the other side’ though I’ve, personally, no recollection of any such connectivity. My memories of Kathleen are of a girl struggling with ill health; Kathleen had suffered from the debilitating effects of an illness she had contracted when a toddler until her death in 1956. I am sure there were ‘brighter periods’ {fond memories} in her short life that she would have been able to recall.

One can imagine that, should God be omniscient, i.e., ‘all knowing’ , there might exist some kind of database that God could recall at the end of an individual person’s life or an ‘end-times’ resurrection event—at which every memory might be captured in order for God to deliver the final verdict on both the good and the evil we had committed during our short existence. Should post mortem survival be nothing other than God’s computer wizardry producing enough evidence to condemn or—even redeem that ‘person’ we believe ourselves to have been—but had, in reality, been nothing more than the sum total of our (or God’s} recollection of life’s experience, however short or painful, then one might ponder on what basis God may measure each individual’s culpability, for ‘we’ might be nothing but the victims of our social environment or our biologically determined personality—or even victims of some kind of pandemic.

It has been suggested that should there have ever existed such a ‘personality’ as the God of Judeo/Christian Scripture, with the right to condemn or commend, then there would need to be more to you and me than ‘recollections’ of past events and experiences—deeds and misdeeds. Furthermore, how exactly might Justice realise itself should there be ‘nothing but memories’ to face either condemnation or reprieve? For if ‘self’ (‘I’) is a figment of an over-realised sense of importance—a refusal to accept our actual place in ‘the cycle of life’—then one might conclude with stoic philosophy that opines that death may simply be ‘the end of a good thing’. I, personally, do not believe this to be an acceptable conclusion to the question of personality or to personal culpability.

As children, we, for good reason, weren’t given the opportunity of seeing the lifeless form of our older sister, and it wasn’t for a number of years before I observed recently deceased persons. I was on my way back home when I came across a car that had failed to negotiate a bend and had driven into a rather large oak tree. It was an unreal scenario—around midnight on a hot summer’s evening. There were no survivors as all three occupants had perished. I was the second or third person on the scene; the police and ambulance hadn’t yet arrived. But death had. There was not one person living. Where, I thought, had the life gone.

Kathleen Ann

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