Penny – July 1979
Penny received the invitation to Tyrone’s christening, and the news that Rebecca was expecting another child together. Rebecca had scribbled a hasty apology for not calling, as she didn’t have Penny’s new number. Penny realised that she had been very remiss in keeping in touch with her friends even though she missed them so acutely. She must get her act together she resolved. Rebecca had written that she would like Penny to be godmother to her next, she hoped that Pen didn’t mind but she had asked Suzanne and Caitlin to be godmothers and she would like Charles to be godfather to Tyrone. Penny decided to call Rebecca immediately; she would get her in the shop. One of the Palmerstone girls answered but handed her over to Rebecca in seconds.
‘Becca, I just got your news, how are you? How’s Ty? I miss you so much.’ Penny sounded so sad that Rebecca’s heart lurched for her dear friend.
‘Hey Pen I’m fine. How are you? We’ve been worried about you. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been able to be there for you. How are you feeling now?’ Her sentences were jumbled with emotion and desire to catch up on lost time. Penny tried to dodge the issue of her depression but Rebecca persisted in wanting to know truly how she was.
‘It comes and goes really’ admitted Penny eventually, ‘some days I feel perfectly normal like me, and other days I don’t want to see anyone or do anything. I can’t be bothered, even with Charles and Simon and Lucy. I feel terrible but I can’t do anything about it.’ Penny found she could admit to Rebecca what she had never confessed to a soul. ‘Does that make me a terrible person?’ she whispered sadly.
‘No Pen, you’ve been ill. I’ve read about postnatal depression. Most women get it for a while at least; some very severely.’ She had read that some women killed themselves or harmed their children but she wasn’t about to mention that to Penny. ‘If you were ill with measles or you broke your leg you wouldn’t feel guilty would you? It’s the same thing, you’ve been ill but because it’s your brain not your body you feel that it’s your fault. It’s not, silly. We all love you and want you to be well and happy.’
‘Thanks Becca’ Penny smiled to herself, wishing it were that easy. But talking to Rebecca made her feel much more like her old self.
‘I need you both to come down for Ty’s christening, bring the children as well. Annie can squash you all in to the Pimlico house. She proceeded to tell Penny about the forthcoming rearrangements and how she was going to be moving to Pimlico and Annie was going to Paris, possibly to a place that Caitlin had.
‘Anyhow’ she wrapped up the conversation, ‘we’ll all be together for the weekend of 25th and 26th August. Call Annie she’ll be really pleased to hear from you and you can discuss the bed and board arrangements. Love you Pen, can’t wait to see you.’ Rebecca hung up and for a moment contemplated her friend’s illness. There but for the grace of God she thought to herself. She definitely wouldn’t be able to keep all the balls in the air if it happened to her.
Penny decided that she would cook something special for dinner. The children were staying overnight with her mother and father at Catterick. Her parents were in seventh heaven being so close to their only child and two grandchildren. After many years of postings abroad their last stop was very fortuitous, especially as Gwen remarked, while Penny was not well.
Penny had a rummage about in the kitchen to see what was available; Charles had been in charge of the menu since they’d arrived in Yorkshire. Not seeing anything that took her fancy she decided to go out to the local shops.
For the first time in a long while she showered, washed her hair and dressed herself with care. By the time Charles came home the kitchen was humming with activity and his nostrils were assailed by the scent of roasting lamb and rosemary. Charles peeked around the door of the kitchen to see his wife basting the roast, his striped butchers apron tied around her making her look absurdly small and vulnerable. She was humming to herself happily as she worked.
Charles felt the pricking of tears and a huge lump in his throat to see his own Penny back again from the depths of despair. Charles was a wise man. He checked himself and got his emotions under control; strolling into the kitchen with a cheery,
‘What have we here then wife? Something smells mighty fine!’ He grinned appreciatively and gave her a pat on the bottom, ‘Wednesday night menu is certainly looking up’ he added. Penny turned and gave him a hug hello.
‘Roast lamb, rosemary and garlic, roast potatoes, peas and carrots, all fresh from the local shop; beer’s in the fridge and I think I’ll have a glass of white.’ Charles grinned happily as he resumed his normal life of domestic bliss, hoping and praying that it would last.
As they ate their dinner together Penny related happily the contents of her conversation with Rebecca. Charles was receptive to the idea of attending the christening and committed to arranging cover for the Sunday services while they were away.
‘You should call Suzanne and make sure we’re not too much of an imposition on her though. I’m sure either of the grandparents would look after the children.’ Penny agreed in principle but she also thought that Annie would want to see Simon as she had a special affection for her godson,
‘I’ll ask her though,’ she affirmed to her husband.
Charles, not wanting to disturb Penny’s happy spirits, decided not to question her further on Dylan’s disappearance from Rebecca’s life leaving her pregnant once more. He was horrified at his childhood friend’s behaviour and could find no excuses for it. His own part in the miserable affair still haunted him.
All thoughts of Dylan were firmly set aside when Penny leaned in and kissed him softly on the mouth. Her eyes messaged loud and clear that she had other thoughts on her mind. Charles scooped her up in a massive bear hug delighted beyond words at her recovery. As though she were a featherweight he put her over his shoulder and carried her upstairs emitting caveman whoops and hollers accompanied by her hysterical giggles. Charles and Penny made love tenderly and repeatedly for the first time in months.
Penny – July 1979