My Story - Part 1 - by 88JM

by 88JM 19 Replies latest jw friends

  • 88JM


    So here is the first part of my story as promised. I apologise in advance because I know this is going to be much longer than it needs to be. Not that I’m intentionally mentioning trivial details, but I don’t have the gift of conciseness when it comes to writing and tend to repeat myself. In all honesty, I don’t think this is going to be easy and I’ve never really done anything like this until now.

    I’m sure many elements to my own story are by no means unique, and I’m sure there are many reading who have had similar experiences. Neither do I pretend that my experience is the most galling – I know many of you will have dealt with far, far worse situations.

    Part 1 is mostly just to give background to my story as I think it gives a useful insight to where I am at now. Some of this is obviously from second-hand accounts as you will see, and I’ve had to change some details for my anonymity (PM me and I will give you the "corrections"). If I’m unsure of my accuracy, you will find me using weasel words like “probably” and “I guess so”.

    So here it goes…

    The Beginning

    I was born in Halifax in the spring of 1988, not quite old enough to remember the Thatcher years, but old enough to vividly remember the mechanical tones of John Major and Saturday morning cartoons before being dragged out on field service along with my brother, who is 5 and-a-half-years older. We were brought up in the suburbs, straddled between Halifax and Bradford, just a stone’s throw from the Yorkshire dales really.

    Grandparents and parents

    I only knew two of my grandparents – my mother’s parents. I never knew my father’s parents as they had passed away well before I was born.

    My father had been married before, in the early 70s, before he became a JW, so by the time of his second marriage (to my mother) he was in his late thirties and she in her late twenties. To this day, I know very few details about my dad’s other family - other than there being a number of half-brothers and half-sisters, and their mother who wanted nothing to do with my dad after the divorce.

    My mother’s parents had become Witnesses in the early 60s in Doncaster where they were from. My mother was in her early teens at the time, and still remembers celebrating Christmas, Birthdays, and parties with “worldly” friends. She was baptized a few years later after my grandparents. Both families were previously of the Methodist faith, I’m told. My mother always wields her longer JW-career as a trump card in arguments with my dad on anything JW related.

    Both my grandmother and grandfather were from rather big families, both reasonably middle class. Neither grandparents had ever held a driving license though, and having lived through the years of rationing after WW2, had mastered the art of thrift, and were perfectly content with walking and public transport - my grandmother often taking us on the train into Halifax. My grandmother was the oldest of five children – their father a skilled cook, something which my grandmother took great pride in, and to some extent inherited his skills perhaps.

    On reflection, I find it a shame that I don’t know my great-aunts and great-uncles better now - I always enjoyed hearing my grandmother’s stories of her youth. She would occasionally write to them in the most beautiful cursive, rarely seen in today’s age of the PC, and send small hand-made photo calendars most years. Some of her sisters would reply with similarly ornate scrawlings of letters that were sometimes hard to decipher in fact. I did meet some of them briefly for the first time at my grandmother’s funeral, and found them to be incredibly charming; possessing many of the quirks I loved about my grandmother.

    She had spent her early married years working attached to a Doncaster steel-works, on a band-saw along with a team of other women in the production line.

    Her husband, my grandfather, worked for the GPO in Doncaster before he was called-up to do his two years national service – something which my grandmother recalled he intensely loathed. My mother was born during this time.

    When the two years service were completed, he burned most of his uniform items, keeping very few photos and a clothes brushes used to keep the uniform looking spotless. My grandmother did remark that while he hated that time, he did return home with an even more regimented approach to things, and never lost the habit of keeping spotless attire, which no doubt came in usefully as a JW. Like many of their time, they enjoyed going dancing, and took holidays on the Yorkshire coast. My grandfather was, incidentally, also an avid listener of Buddy Holly – something which I now share in common with him, though regrettably too late for us to have shared a record with.

    It was a few years on after his national service when they were contacted by the witnesses and were later baptized, followed by my mum a couple of years later. At the time, I believe there were two main congregations in Doncaster city – their congregation meeting above an old billiards hall, I’m told. My grandfather was appointed as a congregation servant then later an elder. He would always mark his books with sparse but carefully thought-out notes, and always in pencil, underlines always made carefully with a ruler.

    My mother worked briefly (along with my grandmother) on a Doncaster market stall after leaving school, and then moved on to working for an opticians before getting married to my dad in the early autumn of 1980.


    As mentioned previously, I had never known my father’s parents. He is from a rather different and what might have been considered a more “lower-class” background to my mother, himself and his sister from a suburb of Halifax, only a mile or two from where I grew up myself.

    His mother had been a hairdresser, who like my father at one time, smoked heavily. This sadly led to her lung cancer and the likely outcome for such a patient in the 1960s.

    His father was a self-employed plumber, who rode a motorcycle - even when told not to by doctors - right up to the day before he died and was found in bed, peacefully at rest by my dad.

    Having been brought up for the majority of his life with no mother, I think perhaps my father did lack the disciplinary “checks and balances” of a two-parent family, and lived quite a maverick youth, I think it is not unfair to say. He worked initially as an apprentice mechanic, then as a long-distance lorry diver, and later for Yorkshire Water on road crews.

    I think he could write his own book about his life, as he has often threatened to do so: leaving school as soon as possible, getting into trouble with the wrong crowd, beer, pubs, smoking, gambling, shooting, poaching with dogs, keeping ferrets, owls, horses, crashing cars, getting married and divorced, and many other things that I know he un-admittedly finds shameful and probably prefers to forget about, let alone tell me.

    He became a JW in 1976, just towards the end of the 1975 fiasco, as he recalls. He gave up smoking and “got involved with the Society” hauling equipment around for assemblies with a Jeep that he acquired from Yorkshire Water in a sale of their old vehicles. Later he got a twin tank Austin that he managed to afford to fill up only once when he first bought it and was then surprised to be told by the brothers that they would find someone else to do his job, presumably someone with a less “materialistic” type of vehicle.

    He was always an enthusiast photographer and film recorder. I’m sure we still have 8mm cine-film in the loft here of the construction of the East Pennines Assembly Hall (Hellaby, to those who know it) and also construction of the kingdom hall where I went as a child. He was involved in both of these constructions, and remembers donating his father’s treasured plumbers tools at Hellaby, receiving no thanks or recognition in return, as he was surprised to discover. He mentions that many handed over such items, including their gold jewellery, all for the “kingdom effort” of course. There was also an international assembly in Jamaica which he remembers fondly – JWs being baptized in the sea, large-winged insects, music, poetry and dancing, and laying low through a hurricane.

    It was apparently an assembly in Doncaster where my mum and dad were introduced to each other. They married in 1980 and moved to the suburb of Halifax near where my dad lived.

    (to be continued...)

  • GromitSK

    Very interstesting as a nearish neighbour :)

  • 88JM

    Thanks GromitSK - Part 2 should hopefully get more on to the JW stuff.

  • GromitSK

    I will keep my eyes peeled :) - and you're welcome. Frankly I wish I had never heard of the sodding witnesses lol

    don't worry about how long the story is - it's good therapy.

  • cedars

    Great stuff so far. I can't wait for the next installment.

    I can't believe you're so young! Congrats on getting out early.


  • 88JM

    Out mentally I would like to think, but still dragging myself out physically.

    I may be young, but I still with I had got out years ago.

  • moshe

    Thank you for your first installment- I assumed you meant Halifx, Nova Scotia, then the Yorkshire mention sent me to google maps to get un-discombobulated.

  • cantleave

    God that makes me feel old, We were married in 1988.

    Great story so far.

  • cedars


    I may be young, but I still with I had got out years ago.

    Count yourself lucky my friend.

    At least you weren't old with your best years behind you when the penny finally dropped.


  • James Brown
    James Brown

    looking forward to part 2

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