Penny – March 1979
Penny’s life was about to change quite dramatically with another move. She had known that they might be required to go to a new parish at any time, much as her parents had been relocated with her father’s career in the army. Her husband had been asked to take on a parish near Scarborough in Yorkshire. In terms of their children the move was at a good time in that neither of them where yet in school. For their family connections the move was not so auspicious. Jo and Julius were about to move further south from Nottingham to a new post, as Deputy Head for Julius, in Reading. Charles’s parents were not that far distant in Lincoln but she would be a long way away from her best friends Suzanne and Rebecca both based in London. Caitlin in New York made no difference; it was a world away.
Packing up their possessions and moving out of the rectory in Ampthill was one of the hardest and saddest things that Penny had ever had to do. It had been her first proper home where she and Charles had established their very happy marriage. Not for the first time in her life Penny felt unsettled. But this time it had a much worse effect on her. Her natural happy and outgoing nature failed; she became depressed.
Charles was worried about his wife and partner in life; she had always been resilient and optimistic. Penny was barely coping with everyday activities. She would leave the children in their pyjamas for most of the day, staying in bed herself as long as she could before she had to respond to an urgent need. Simon and Lucy used to their mother’s constant attention were aware of the change in her and began to cleave to their father more than ever before.
Charles, committed to the move contacted his mother for support and Jane, remembering a similar episode that she had suffered, came immediately to their aid. She arrived and provided a lifeline for Penny who had always loved and trusted her mother-in-law. Jane took Penny to her GP and organised anti-depressants then set about packing up the contents of the Ampthill Rectory and arranging for its transport to Scarborough. Peter and the two younger children were well able to take care of themselves without her. Penny’s depression she considered to be an emergency.
Fortunately for Penny and her husband and children Jane’s prompt action resulted in a return to health that enabled Penny to operate normally again within a few months. The anti-depressants proved to be harder to recover from than the actual depression, but with the support of an excellent GP in their new parish near Scarborough she was able to withdraw gradually from the drugs. The experience made Penny ever more conscious of her good fortune and gave her a life-long commitment to support other mothers who suffered from bouts of post-natal depression, sometimes for years.
The couple settled into life in Yorkshire and had the benefit of much more frequent visits from both sets of parents. Peter had decided that now that Daniel and Agnes were both at College he was ready to downsize his career and return to being a parish priest, a role that he had missed. Peter and Jane took on a parish in North Lincolnshire and were consequently within striking distance of their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
Penny’s father then had the luck of being posted back to Catterick in Yorkshire (he had been posted there as a Lieutenant 15 years earlier when Penny was a teenager) now as Commanding Officer; this would be his last posting prior to retirement. Gwen and Jon were both delighted with their good fortune and planned to spend as much time as they could with their only daughter and two grandchildren.
Although largely recovered from her depression Penny struggled to come to terms with the isolation from her friends. Suzanne was the only one who was able to travel up to Yorkshire to visit and her visits were less frequent than they had been to Bedfordshire. Penny really missed the old times.
Penny – March 1979