Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A ripe old age

I may have mentioned some time ago in one of my posts, a little about Mr Ayak's childhood.  He has happy memories but some sad ones too.  He was the first child born to his father and his father's first wife.  When he was just two weeks old, his mother left, leaving him behind.  He has never been told why.  Of course there must be members of the family who know the reasons, but no-one ever talks about it.  Around the same time, his cousin was born...the son of my FIL's sister, and she wet-nursed Mr Ayak for a while.  Because of this, he has always been very close to his aunt and also his cousin.

When Mr Ayak was seven years old he was sent out to Sivas in the east of Turkey to live with his grandparents.  He slept  in the outbuildings with the animals.  Not something that he considers cruel...although most of us would think fact quite the opposite.  It was his choice and he loved it!  He used to walk 5 km to school every day and then back again in the afternoon.  I don't imagine it was an easy life for a young boy but he has very fond memories, and says it was one the happiest times of his life.  He absolutely adores his grandparents.  When he was 14 years old, his father brought him back to Ankara and put him to work in a restaurant kitchen, so he didn't have chance to finish his education.  In spite of this, he is a very clever man, and although he has had to take on a number of different types of job over the years, he adapts very quickly and is a fast learner.  But it's not easy in this country...or anywhere for that matter...if you haven't had a good education.

His father married again, and Mr Ayak has a stepbrother (the quantum physics whiz kid) and a stepsister..the orthopaedic surgeon.  These two siblings clearly had the best education available to them.  Something that I feel very angry about. In the past when my FIL criticised Mr Ayak to me about him being unable to keep a steady job, I clearly expressed my feelings to his father about how unfairly Mr A had been treated compared to his other two children.  I would imagine this was the start of the animosity my FIL feels towards me, but I don't regret one word I said at the time.

You would think that Mr Ayak might feel some resentment towards his brother and sister wouldn't you? Not a bit...he loves them dearly and is immensely proud of them.  He also has a very good relationship with his stepmother.

So back to the grandparents. They are still alive and now in their 90s.  I have come to realise since we moved here, that people in these isolated villages tend to live to a ripe old age.  It must be the country air and the simple way of life that keeps them going I guess.

Over recent years Mr A's grandparents have been regularly brought to Ankara to spend the winter.  Sivas is just too cold for them at this time of year.  At the moment, grandmother is in hospital in Ankara and she is very frail and poorly.   Although it was with some reluctance that Mr Ayak set off for Ankara yesterday to hand over the property tax money to his father, it was also a chance for him to see his grandmother for what may turn out to be the last time.

He arrived in Ankara late last night and went straight to the hospital, and he has been there ever since. There has been no change in her condition, and this afternoon Mr Ayak's aunt and uncle are taking her out of hospital to their home.  Mr Ayak will return home tomorrow evening.  I'm so glad he has had this opportunity.  I only had the pleasure of meeting them once, about 6 or 7 years ago, when they were staying with an aunt in Izmir.  We were only there for a couple of days, but grandmother spent the entire time cuddling me on the sofa, and cried when I left.  She is just such a sweet old lady.

I don't know what has happened between Mr Ayak and his father during this visit, but when he phoned me today he told me he was not going to pay his father the money, and that he would just have to wait for it.  No doubt I'll hear the full story when he returns.


  1. You know...... you sound the perfect wife for Mr Ayak. You support him in everything that he does and I just know that you must make up for the bad start he had in life.
    I believe that it was the custom to let relatives of the outer circle look after a child......... it was the same in Japan with my son's FIL. AND I seem to remember that my grandmother looked after several nieces and brought them up as her own. One or two of her children went to live with other relatives.

    The sad thing was running out on a 2 week old child and the silence that surrounds that action.

    Nuts in May

  2. How lovely that he did have family support when he was growing up, even if it was not from his parents. It must be very sad for him now, to see his grandmother so poorly. Poor Mr A - he really didn't get the breaks with his dad, did he? But how strong of him not to have paid over the tax (which really, all things considered, your FIL could easily have forked out himself)

  3. I'd love to hear the story of how you and Mr. A. met in the first place...

  4. Maggie. Yes certainly grandmothers here still take on a lot of the childcare so that their children can work. Often made easier by the fact that elderly relatives tend to live with their offspring anyway.
    It must have been hard for Mr A's mother to leave a 2 week old baby, but I often wonder if she was driven away by my FIL. Knowing now what kind of man he is, I wouldn't be surprised.

    FF: Yes he is very sad at the moment. He knows of course that his grandmother will inevitably go, but it's never easy is it?

    Heiko: I'll do a post about it some time.

  5. My aunt shipped off her offspring to boarding school asap. My father would have done the same if he had the money.

    Good for you that you gave FIL a piece of your mind. Mr.Ayak was truely robbed, not only of his education but the love and kindness of his grandparents.

    It must be a very emotional time for him. I would say playing hard ball with FIL is perhaps exactly what everyone in that family needs. There is always an overbearing arsehole in every famuly that needs a good tongue lashing now and then.
    My mother went after my paternal grandfather much to the delight of my granny.

    Loved the way you wrote this Ayak. It seems like you got something off your chest there.

    Doubt that FIL will kick you off the premises. Who will mend and fix things, hard to do unless you want to leave the comfy life of Ankara. Doubt that rural life really suits him, he probably know´s this deep down.

  6. Has Mr Ayak ever tried to find his mother?

  7. To relate to what you were saying about people living long lives in the country..I think a sickly child died off leaving the stronger to survive...but, boy did they survive! I am thinking of local cemeteries where deaths at 80to 90 years are the norm for the generation before ours...if they weren't killed in useless wars.
    Now you see headstones for the 50s and 60s.

  8. Chris: I didn't really think of it when I wrote this, but you're right. I think I was getting something off my chest.

    @eloh: Yes he did...she lives in Istanbul, married again, and has several grown up children. He met her when he was about 20 years old. He was welcomed by her and her family..but then again this is how the Turks are..they welcome anyone. There was no feeling of closeness between them. The visit was brief, and they have had no contact since. He never talks about it..and I don't push him.

    Fly: Yes I think you're right. Many children of that generation died because they just weren't strong enough to survive. My own father lost two sisters to diptheria, and a brother to TB. Those that did survive lived long lives.

  9. We see the same long-livers amongst the Breton community here. They are up so early working the land and you see them striding up hills carrying lots of shopping bags, little old ladies who must be 80+ with so much strength in their legs.

  10. Its so great that Mr. Ayak has so much support and love from you. And so sweet of Mr. Ayak to love his step siblings in spite of everything.

  11. FF: I struggle up the steep lane to my house...very slowly...and I am always amazed when I see one of my neighbours who I know is in her 80s trotting up the lane like a teenager!

    CJ: Yes it is! xx


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