BACKSTORY – Milly

I met Milly and her family many years ago. Milly, not her real name, of course, was the oldest of seven children. All of her brothers were in the military. When she was a young woman, Milly was a candidate to be a teacher.

Once again, all names are pseudonyms. Milly was a pretty, dark haired, young woman. She was shy, not particularly outgoing and somewhat naive. When she was twenty-two, Milly married an army man in December of 1925. Their daughter was born nearly two years later. During Victoria’s reign, troops were stationed in Europe, India, Africa, North America, Australia, New Zealand and China. The army posted its men all over the world for years at a time. One of these soldiers was Milly’s husband.

Albert came from a wealthy family. By his own admission, he lived a wild life in his early years causing problems for his father. Records show after another scandal he was sent to South Africa to work on  the railroad. While in Africa, Albert married and fathered two children. After nearly ten years he returned to England deserting his wife and children. Shortly after he returned from Africa, he met Milly. 

In 1930 Milly had a daughter with Albert.  Albert left for Canada with Milly following later. When the time came for Milly to sail for Canada, she boarded the ship with both girls but a representative of the British Army boarded the ship and removed her oldest daughter. Milly’s husband somehow learned of  her plans and requested the military remove his child . He had not given permission for her to leave England.  Milly was heartbroken.  She never saw her daughter again. 

After her arrival in Canada with Albert’s daughter, the little family lived on a farm in rural Ontario. Milly went on to have four more children. During this time, she was a farmer’s wife and a cook at the local hotel. After the children were born, Albert had a mild heart attack. Albert decided he could no longer be a farmer and the family began one of, what turned out to be, several moves. The family left the farm and moved north to a small community where Milly, once again, found employment at the local hotel. She worked long, hard hours and was the sole support of the family. Albert turned to alcohol. The children left home as soon as they were of age. 

Life for Milly and her children was difficult. When I met her, Milly was a tiny woman who was fearful of life. Albert treated her as his special servant and was not a kind and loving father to his children. Years after her children were gone, Milly and Albert moved into a retirement complex in another town.

Albert died at age 83. Milly continued to live in her little apartment until health issues forced her to move into a retirement facility. She died at the age of 88.

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