I was born in the early 50’s in the Caribbean. I was nine days old when Daddy left to England to provide for himself and family. In those days mothers giving birth were allowed out of the birth home after nine days, so my Daddy saw me for the first and only time in our lives.

Daddy sent for Mommy just over one year later so she joined him in England, leaving me with the lady she lived with. That lady cared for me to the point of overprotection, taking me everywhere and I wanted for nothing. I was one year old when Mommy departed and I never saw again until I was 22, not even a picture of her, so I didn’t know what she looked like. Even though Daddy lived till he was 69 I never met him, and over the many absent years I believe I saw a picture of him once through one of my sisters.

I recall, at age 12, opening a letter from Mommy to my grandmother, which I was not supposed to, asking her to take me to the travel office to prepare my passage to England. For some reason grandma decided that she would not take me to travel office and the plan faded away. Mother returned when I was age 22 and I recalled meeting her at the airport. She was so excited and ecstatic to see me that she over enthusiastically hugged me and left my neck in pain for days.

I eventually visited my family in England in my early 40’s and met my other 6 brothers and sisters who were all born there. By that time I had children of my own, and I had brought my youngest boy with me who was age 3. Mommy (grandma) loved him so much that she decided that he must stay with her and not return to the country of his birth. It was very difficult for me to leave my youngest of my 4 children behind but I reluctantly did so because Mommy was insistent, and I also believed he would have a good life living in England. Mommy had a torrid time with the authorities to retain my son but she insisted that she wanted her grandson and ultimately won the battle. My son grew up to love the family and fitted in well as he was much loved by all.

Although I maintained communication with my siblings and family in England I did not know them well, and certainly had no bonding with my mother. I naturally felt distant and an outsider in relation to my other siblings. However, years later Mommy became sick and needed care and I felt it was my duty to look after her.

I applied for Leave to Remain in England and spent nine years caring for Mommy, day and night. The pandemic, Covid, made matters worse because it got to a stage when Mommy was too sick to be at home so she was admitted into the hospital where the restrictions meant no visitors. As her carer I was exempt, and as I was at her beside constantly, they gave me a bed so I was able to stay permanently in the hospital. There was a moment when Mommy looked me in the eye, and with tears rolling down her cheeks, shook her head and said “I am sorry”, and I replied “it’s ok I forgive you and I am here for you”.

It got to a point where they could do no more for my mother so we agreed for her to return home. All the family gathered around Mommy, including my son, he is now 31 year old grandson, and we were able to share the last three days of her life. Alone I observed Mommy pass away in the early hours of the morning. She gradually faded away in three phases of breathing until her last breath was taken at around 4am. I felt a total loss; I hugged her, maybe as tight as she hugged me at age 22, and cried.

I have to admit that I never felt a true bond with my mother and always felt like an outsider with my siblings. However, that did not deter me from giving of my best to Mommy and I feel I did just that. After 9 years I’m still here in England under Leave to Remain, awaiting for the authorities to make a decision to grant me permanent stay or otherwise.

By Donald Campbell February 2022