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But we took you to Stately Homes - May 2020 onwards thread

(432 Posts)
AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 07-May-20 10:30:06

It's May 2020, and the Stately Home is still open to visitors.

Forerunning threads:
December 2007
March 2008
August 2008
February 2009
May 2009
January 2010
April 2010
August 2010
March 2011
November 2011
January 2012
November 2012
January 2013
March 2013
August 2013
December 2013
February 2014
April 2014
July 2014
Oct 14 – Dec 14
Dec 14 – March 15
March 2015 - Nov 2015
Nov 2015 - Feb 2016
Feb 2016 - Oct 2016
Oct 2016 - Feb 2017
Feb 2017 - May 2017
May 2017 - August 2017
August 2017 - December 2017
December 2017 - November 2018
November 2018-May 2019
May-August 2019
August-October 2019
November-December 2019

Welcome to the Stately Homes Thread.

This is a long running thread which was originally started up by 'pages' see original thread here (December 2007)

So this thread originates from that thread and has become a safe haven for Adult children of abusive families.

The title refers to an original poster's family who claimed they could not have been abusive as they had taken her to plenty of Stately Homes during her childhood!

One thing you will never hear on this thread is that your abuse or experience was not that bad. You will never have your feelings minimised the way they were when you were a child, or now that you are an adult. To coin the phrase of a much respected past poster Ally90;

'Nobody can judge how sad your childhood made you, even if you wrote a novel on it, only you know that. I can well imagine any of us saying some of the seemingly trivial things our parents/ siblings did to us to many of our real life acquaintances and them not understanding why we were upset/ angry/ hurt etc. And that is why this thread is here. It's a safe place to vent our true feelings, validate our childhood/ lifetime experiences of being hurt/ angry etc by our parents behaviour and to get support for dealing with family in the here and now.'

Most new posters generally start off their posts by saying; but it wasn't that bad for me or my experience wasn't as awful as x,y or z's.

Some on here have been emotionally abused and/ or physically abused. Some are not sure what category (there doesn't have to be any) they fall into.

NONE of that matters. What matters is how 'YOU' felt growing up, how 'YOU' feel now and a chance to talk about how and why those childhood experiences and/ or current parental contact, has left you feeling damaged, falling apart from the inside out and stumbling around trying to find your sense of self-worth.

You might also find the following links and information useful, if you have come this far and are still not sure whether you belong here or not.

'Toxic Parents' by Susan Forward.

I started with this book and found it really useful.

Here are some excerpts:

"Once you get going, most toxic parents will counterattack. After all, if they had the capacity to listen, to hear, to be reasonable, to respect your feelings, and to promote your independence, they wouldn't be toxic parents. They will probably perceive your words as treacherous personal assaults. They will tend to fall back on the same tactics and defences that they have always used, only more so.

Remember, the important thing is not their reaction but your response. If you can stand fast in the face of your parents' fury, accusations, threats and guilt-peddling, you will experience your finest hour.

Here are some typical parental reactions to confrontation:

"It never happened". Parents who have used denial to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy or anxiety, will undoubtedly use it during confrontation, to promote their version of reality. They'll insist that your allegations never happened, or that you're exaggerating. They won't remember, or they will accuse you of lying.

YOUR RESPONSE: Just because you don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen".

"It was your fault." Toxic parents are almost never willing to accept responsibility for their destructive behaviour. Instead, they will blame you. They will say that you were bad, or that you were difficult. They will claim that they did the best that they could but that you always created problems for them. They will say that you drove them crazy. They will offer as proof, the fact that everybody in the family knew what a problem you were. They will offer up a laundry list of your alleged offences against them.

YOUR RESPONSE: "You can keep trying to make this my fault, but I'm not going to accept the responsibility for what you did to me, when I was a child".

"I said I was sorry what more do you want?" Some parents may acknowledge a few of the things that you say but be unwilling to do anything about it.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate your apology, but that is just a beginning. If you're truly sorry, you'll work through this with me, to make a better relationship."

"We did the best we could." Some parents will remind you of how tough they had it while you were growing up and how hard they struggled. They will say such things as "You'll never understand what I was going through," or "I did the best I could". This particular style of response will often stir up a lot of sympathy and compassion for your parents. This is understandable, but it makes it difficult for you to remain focused on what you need to say in your confrontation. The temptation is for you once again to put their needs ahead of your own. It is important that you be able to acknowledge their difficulties, without invalidating your own.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I understand that you had a hard time, and I'm sure that you didn't hurt me on purpose, but I need you to understand that the way you dealt with your problems really did hurt me"

"Look what we did for you." Many parents will attempt to counter your assertions by recalling the wonderful times you had as a child and the loving moments you and they shared. By focusing on the good things, they can avoid looking at the darker side of their behaviour. Parents will typically remind you of gifts they gave you, places they took you, sacrifices they made for you, and thoughtful things they did. They will say things like, "this is the thanks we get" or "nothing was ever enough for you."

YOUR RESPONSE: "I appreciate those things very much, but they didn't make up for ...."

"How can you do this to me?" Some parents act like martyrs. They'll collapse into tears, wring their hands, and express shock and disbelief at your "cruelty". They will act as if your confrontation has victimized them. They will accuse you of hurting them, or disappointing them. They will complain that they don't need this, they have enough problems. They will tell you that they are not strong enough or healthy enough to take this, that the heartache will kill them. Some of their sadness will, of course, be genuine. It is sad for parents to face their own shortcomings, to realise that they have caused their children significant pain. But their sadness can also be manipulative and controlling. It is their way of using guilt to try to make you back down from the confrontation.

YOUR RESPONSE: "I'm sorry you're upset. I'm sorry you're hurt. But I'm not willing to give up on this. I've been hurting for a long time, too."

Helpful Websites

Alice Miller
Personality Disorders definition
Daughters of narcissistic mothers
Out of the FOG
You carry the cure in your own heart
Help for adult children of child abuse
Pete Walker
The Echo Society
There are also one or two less public offshoots of Stately Homes, PM AttilaTheMeerkat or toomuchtooold for details.

Some books:

Toxic Parents by Susan Forward
Homecoming by John Bradshaw
Will I ever be good enough? by Karyl McBride
If you had controlling parents by Dan Neuharth
When you and your mother can't be friends by Victoria Segunda
Children of the self-absorbed by Nina Brown - check reviews on this, I didn't find it useful myself.
Recovery of your inner child by Lucia Capacchione
Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nazakawa

This final quote is from smithfield posting as therealsmithfield:

"I'm sure the other posters will be along shortly to add anything they feel I have left out. I personally don't claim to be sorted but I will say my head has become a helluva lot straighter since I started posting here. You will receive a lot of wisdom but above all else the insights and advice given will 'always' be delivered with warmth and support."

OP’s posts: |
AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 07-May-20 10:30:59

I have started a new thread as the other is full.

If anyone a bit more tech savvy than me can improve on this by being able to link the previous thread I would be v grateful!


OP’s posts: |
catsears1 Thu 07-May-20 18:59:11

It's strange how our parents and childhood can damage us so much. My parents have always dismissed anything me or my siblings say about childhood that is less than complimentary. They say it's rubbish or that we are making it up.

Being the eldest sibling in a big family, I was regarded as grown up and had to fend for myself early on due to concentration being on the younger ones. So different rules always applied to me - whether I was 15 or 5. A different standard, whereas the younger siblings never had this.

My dad bullied me and made me the butt of every joke. I was labelled the difficult one / black sheep from the start, which I think was due to them being new parents and not knowing how to cope - so oldest always difficult compared to those who follow. That label stuck from infancy even to today. He said I was an awful person since I can remember, so I do think I am a bad person inside as that's what I was always led to believe. He would say this to everyone who would listen. He also didn't think the children in general were a priority, I had to go begging my grandparents if my school shoes were too small or I needed new underwear. He just wouldn't buy it.

My mum didn't stick up for me and had issues of her own. Extreme OCD and other things, but no wish to address them. I was subjected to her screaming and ranting at me for hours if I used the washing machine or cleaned something wrong. She also disliked me and would say she shouldn't have had me and had a life instead.

I wasn't physically abused or otherwise, but there was definitely mental abuse and maybe a bit of neglect. I don't see them very much now, three times a year at most.

Ulterego Sat 09-May-20 11:10:19

Thank you Attila🙋🏼‍♀️
Here is the old thread
Hi Cats, I'm so sorry for what you've been through 😥 your parents treated you despicably, you must be very strong and determined to survive this kind of childhood abuse
It's good that you have very little contact with them, how are you doing, how do you see things going forward?

TheSweetestHalleluja Sat 09-May-20 17:10:26

Finally ordered Toxic Parents after having a really angry few days, where I just got so sick of the double standards expected of me, how according to my mum I must send a birthday card to a relative as she thinks they'd really appreciate it..... ok fine... except, my son has just had his birthday and she didn't send one to him, or even a text.. in fact I'd say she forgot all together. And hasn't bothered with any of our birthdays or Christmas's for years. A small thing really, but really wound me up, and the tip of the iceberg really.

Ulterego Sat 09-May-20 18:29:55

I just got so sick of the double standards
Glad to hear it TheSweetest
I try to live assuming that others 'do as they wish to be done by'
so whatever they serve me up I serve it right back

Redstar99 Sun 10-May-20 08:19:20

Hello, have posted a couple of times before under other names. Sorry as always that we are all here, we deserved more. flowers

I am currently lucky enough to be seeing a therapist. I have approached her with the specific remit of addressing my childhood trauma. I have had an eating disorder for years, and despite my best recovery efforts it won't shift. I am hoping that trying to address my childhood issues will help me finally overcome the ED.

I know I am holding back, in the sessions - as does the therapist. I think I am afraid of opening up to let "it" whatever that is. I don't think I know what "it" is. I know I had difficult childhood - DM heart in the right place, but emotionally controlling with certain things, enabling/accepting DF's behaviour & DF a nasty mix of disinterest/unpredictable rage. Didn't actually hit us, but the fear of his rage was very present.

Do wonder if he is actually a bit narc, DM's DM was a narc, so not a surprise she married someone with similar tendencies.

I still see them, but have limited it a bit following my journey of recovery.

I am sure some of the holding back comes from feeling like I should be the good girl/daughter and really looking at my childhood feels disloyal. I have read up on FOG, so understand that is probably at play here.

I think some part of me worries about what will happen to the feelings once they are out!?!?

Anyone have any experience of this?

Have just started reading Phillippa Perry's book, as mentioned on the various threads. The bit about how if you feel triggered all day long by your kids behaviour then that isn't normal. I really struggle to remember much of my childhood, but when I am with my kids, esp DD who is younger & is female like me, it does make me wonder how my DP would have coped with things. She is quite needy at bedtime esp since lockdown and it can take 45 mins, I cannot see my parents engaging with that....

MintyChapstick Sun 10-May-20 10:25:21

Can I please have vent?

I’ve posted on this thread in the past under different usernames. Right now I’m in lockdown with my parents, DM has always been difficult and I believe has narcissistic traits so going into lockdown with her probably wasn’t a good idea however I am currently furloughed and didn’t have anywhere else to go when it all started. Like a lot of people I didn’t take this crisis seriously at the beginning and didn’t realise how long it would go on for!

DM has become more and more difficult over the course of the lockdown. She documents everything on FB for attention, from what she is watching on television to pictures of her washing drying on the line. This is everyday. All day! She’s suddenly taken up baking after having never liked cooking or baking in her life, not that DF and I get any of it as she’s taken to giving it to neighbours and even staff in the local shop. This is all photographed and documented on FB, obviously.

My respite has been walks. Long walks. It’s my respite. DM has now decided she wants to come with me, but she will dictate where we go and how long we are out for and get sulky and huffy when I suggest somewhere different. She moans her back and legs hurt. Well then why come?! This is also extensively photographed and put on social media.

The other night we held a socially distanced street party. DMs phone ran out of battery and she ranted at me because I wouldn’t go in the house to get my phone so I could photograph and film and put it on FB. Firstly I was talking to a neighbour at the time, and secondly I don’t really share a lot of personal stuff on FB so I didn’t want to do it. I don’t crave attention and admiration like she does.

She speaks to me like shit. A way she’d never speak to anyone else. We order a takeaway once a week and it has to be her choice or she’s sulks and says something passive aggressive like ‘oh it’s ok I’ll just have beans on toast’. It’s relentless.

Lockdown has helped me realise that this has go to change. I don’t really know what advice I want? If I’m honest I’m struggling to hold my tongue. It’s relentless!

Redstar99 Sun 10-May-20 12:21:21

Oh @MintyChapstick this sounds terrible.

Is there anyway you can have the walks on your own? Is there an approach with her that you can take that would have her agree?

TheSweetestHalleluja Sun 10-May-20 12:37:16

Thanks @Ulterego just need to try and make some positive changes now, for my own mental health. Can't be a people pleaser anymore. It never got me anywhere anyway.

MintyChapstick Sun 10-May-20 13:02:58

Redstar Ive tried and she takes huge offence and gets huffy and sulky.

I do genuinely love walking and could go for miles but she will only go so far before moaning about sore legs, back etc. She will make over exagerated huffing and heavy breahting sounds to make out she's utterly exhausted when we've not even gone that far!

The other week we were in a local beauty spot where there are some wooden steps. I knew she'd struggle as they are pretty steep and have no railing, but she insisted on climbing them. Well she got half way up and started making weird grunting sounds and of course I had to help her nearly sliding down the bank in the process. Had she fallen and injured herself we'd never have heard the end of it, so I had no choice really.

This is an ongoing pattern of behaviour. She's always struggled with DB and I being independent and desperately tries to cling on to us.

CeciledeVolanges Sun 10-May-20 16:08:22

I'm so sorry about the walking problems, solo walks are such a lifesaver. Of course you should be able to walk on your own if you so choose, but for the duration could you compromise e.g. by saying you will walk a short loop with her and then a longer loop on your own as you would like the exercise and know she has problems with her health? I know you shouldn't have to play up to her that way but that might be a way to survive the immediate future.

I'm having a very difficult time. Something bad has happened to one set of grandparents and apparently my parents are being saints and helping, between that and a spate of recent family birthdays every time I am in touch with either set of grandparents I get asked to speak to them and to visit them after lockdown ends and chided for not sending e.g. birthday cards. Every day I feel more and more terrified about having to face them, I can't sleep, am having horrendous nightmares and so on. But everyone I speak to apart from a couple of people sort of dismisses the possibility of this happening, that any mental health problems could have resulted from my parent's treatment of me. All my friends have home as a place of safety and parents they can trust to some extent and see me as melodramatic and/or unforgiving. I work with women who have suffered domestic abuse and it really has to be from your husband to be recognised as such. All this and I can't specifically remember much that was wrong, I just know I'd rather die than every see them again and I have panic attacks whenever they send me a message and haven't wanted to open mail or check email for over a month, which is so unlike me. Every day I feel more and more like it's me, I'm paranoid and spoiled and selfish.

Sorry, this is so long and self-indulgent! Just another thing is that I was the oldest granddaughter and was always the one keeping in touch, always the peacemaker and being diplomatic and now I've stopped that the family is falling apart and I feel directly and totally responsible for it.

I don't know what response I'm expecting and feel pathetic for even saying this, when so many people are going through something worse or have lost parents or family members. Thinking of all of you.

SometimesIwish Sun 10-May-20 18:45:24

I want to start off by saying sincere thanks to everyone who has posted on this thread - I have been reading it periodically since 2016. Your experiences, trials, problems overcome, and endless support and coping suggestions have helped me so much already although I have never posted before. Also want to be honest and say I created this nickname just for this post because I guess the truth is I am pretty ashamed of what I really need to say, even if it is to strangers.

I had a thoroughly rotten childhood thanks to my adoptive mother and her father (my grandfather) (sorry not sure what abbreviations to use) resulting in 2 failed suicide attempts, one at age 11, the other at age 23. I'm now 59, and it still hurts and on the dark days (now, thankfully not so frequent as they were) I still wish I could just disappear into nothingness. I can't even write it all down here. I wrote it down once - it took me two weeks to write it all out - and when I read it back even I could see that a stranger would think it was mostly lies because it seems so unbelievable, like a super exaggerated horror story, when it is written down.

But, that's not what I really need to say here. I just need to say out loud (or written aloud if you will) that in these covid times, when so many people are seeming to find ways to reconnect and rebuild family relationships I feel awful inside because I find myself wishing my adoptive mother would just catch it and die so I no longer have to have any contact with her at all. I am so ashamed of these feelings, and I know I am an awful person to wish anyone to die but I just can't help it. She is 88, and has fooled so many people so well for all her life, including the rest of the family, that I just see her as this evil spider always spinning her web to trap me and paint me as the bad child. I just wish it would stop and I could have real separation from all of that family and finally have some peace.

I am sorry if I have shocked/disgusted/upset anyone by this post, but I just really really needed to have my true feelings recorded somewhere in this world

CeciledeVolanges Sun 10-May-20 21:24:56

Sometimes I couldn’t read that without replying. First of all, you are an incredibly strong person to have lived your life despite what you have been through. Secondly, you are not alone with those thoughts, many of us feel that way I’m sure. It’s normal to want peace and escape from something that has made you so miserable and driven you to such lengths. Hold on to the fact that you are very strong and can see the truth and that’s really hard. Are you still in touch with her?

SometimesIwish Sun 10-May-20 22:41:04

@CeciledeVolanges : Thank you so very much for replying. I didn't really expect anyone would, and calling me strong made me cry because that's actually the last way I see myself. I do hold on, as much as I can, and when it feels too much to keep up the mask I guess my coping strategy is to shut the world out for a few days. Maybe that's what a lot of people do?

Yes, I am still in touch, although not through choice of course. I have a complicated family (adoptive father, step father, step sisters, adoptive brother, half brother) ... think of a blended family that was like mixing milk, lemon and drain cleaner ... it's lumpy and horrible and smells bad. (Sorry, small attempt at humour there). None of the family, particularly the step side, even know what happened to me, and I have never wanted them to. Some wounds are too private to share with anyone. But the result of that is that everyone expects me, as the eldest child, to be the first to step in when my mother needs anything, or if my step father needs respite.

She has dementia now and is not totally out of touch with the world, but far enough gone that her ability to cope on her own is compromised, therefore someone needs to be with her 24 hours a day. Unfortunately one of the results of her dementia is that whilst she remembers very little about what has happened in say the past day, week, or month, she recalls in great detail her youth (which I ruined of course) and also talks constantly about her father who she adored. This is the hardest part for me as I have very differently coloured memories of him, and often feel physically sick when she talks about him. It's like she is dragging back the past I have tried so hard to forget and leave behind. I truly pray for the day I never have to hear his name again.

Ulterego Sun 10-May-20 23:08:17

I just see her as this evil spider always spinning her web to trap me and paint me as the bad child. I just wish it would stop and I could have real separation from all of that family and finally have some peace
I think you see her like that because she IS like that!
everyone expects me
they cant compel you, I know it may seem unthinkable but you could escape, you deserve peace.
I'm so sorry for what you've been through, I can read between the lines and I have seen the ways that families collude to cover up, deny, blame the victim. These things cause damage and it can feel heavier as time goes on.
You deserve to be free SometimesIwish

Ulterego Sun 10-May-20 23:17:18

I can't sleep, am having horrendous nightmares and so on
Oh Cecilesad
((((hug))) cake wine
sending everyone strength, try and double down on the distancing message if you can, I have pretty much gone to ground and am barely responding to the problem person.
This is a good time to draw new boundaries, if you make yourself unavailable they will have to find someone else to do their bidding, I know it's not always possible but sometimes it can be done

SometimesIwish Sun 10-May-20 23:25:05

@Ulterego: Thank you too for your insight and understanding. Just feeling that now there are 2 people in this world (you and Cecile) that know my truth just a little makes such a difference. Thank you both so much for that.

Yes, you are right about the spider, and it does help me to have at least some part of my head that knows it wasn't because I was bad, wicked, demanding, selfish or wrong, or that I got what I deserved.

And yes, you are right again. I know they can't compel me, but if I stop doing what I do now without an explanation as to why, I know one will be demanded of me and I'm just unable to face the fact that if I (a) told the truth I would be called a liar, or (b) if I made up some kind of excuse I would be called out on it and in so doing would prove myself to be a liar. So it's kind of like a rock and a hard place.

Freedom will come, I know that. I just find myself wishing it would come soon.

SometimesIwish Sun 10-May-20 23:46:40

@CeciledeVolanges: I am also sending you a hug. I know just how debilitating nightmares can be, especially when they stay with you in the waking hours. One thing I have found which helps me when the nightmares are really bad is to watch really innocent movies about great happy things before you go to sleep ... filling my mind with images that make me smile, and make me feel peaceful. Choose nothing heavy or dramatic, or overly emotional ... and I find animation films are best because they are so different from reality. Kids movies are good for this .. I think I've watched The Secret Life of Pets about a dozen times now!

I also know what you mean about feeling totally responsible. That ingrained 'drummed into you' feeling is a hard one to fight and I've no real answers to it other than to say it really isn't your responsibility, but only you will know when your inner self is truly ready to fully accept (and act) on that knowledge. I struggle (and fail) with that one too, but maybe in time we both will hear our inner voices say yes, that's right, we aren't responsible, we are not selfish, we are not paranoid or spoiled, and we can be free. I hope you find that inner switch soon.

Ulterego Mon 11-May-20 00:02:13

Rock and a hard place
and that's how they operate, steer you into a corner, always looking for some way to trap you.
(sometimes it is possible to study their methods and turn the tables)
I know one will be demanded of me
You can be evasive, or give a non answer or just say you can't cope or only reply by text and don't reply to the actual question.
Maybe start small and work your way up?
slowly slowly catchy monkey 👀
Sometimes we can find opportunities in times of crisis, chaos and confusion can be used to make your escape sometimes.

CeciledeVolanges Mon 11-May-20 00:04:47

Thank you for the replies everyone.

Sometimes I’m sorry that I made you cry. I wish there were more people to understand what you have gone through but believe me, the few sentences you have written have communicated how unbelievably strong you are. It’s not just two of us, so many people if they had the chance to read that would understand but we have the peculiar privilege of understanding and empathising. I’m only 27, I have tried to escape many more times than you have and I can’t begin to understand the strength and the resilience that have got you where you are. I’m in awe of you. I hope that isn’t overdoing it but it is sincerely meant. I wish I had a way to make the bad things that you have faced be exclusively in your past.

Ulterego Mon 11-May-20 00:07:00

it wasn't because I was bad
the bad, this is stuff from them that they have projected onto you, they can't face what they have done so they blame you for it.
You were an innocent child, lamb to the slaughter, you had no chance whatsoever,
These people are predators, they may be working consciously or unconsciously or a mixture of both but they are predators and you should protect yourself from them.

Ulterego Mon 11-May-20 00:13:16

Always the peacemaker and being diplomatic and now I've stopped the family is falling apart
Then you should stay stopped Cecile, definitely you should stay stopped!
Let the family fall apart and while they're lying on the floor kicking their legs you can disappear and leave them to it, live your life for yourself😊

SometimesIwish Mon 11-May-20 00:48:06

@CeciledeVolanges and @Ulterego Thank you both.

Cecile, please don't be sorry you made me cry, I promise you they were happy tears of relief and release ... you did a good thing!

I am grateful more than I can say for your words, but please don't be in awe of me. I haven't been strong, instead I've been too weak to tell the truth and now I have to live with that knowledge and take the consequences. However, you don't, because you have time on your side. You are so young, with so much to look forward to. I have to take responsibility for the fact that I am trapped now in my corner (as Ulterego rightly said) through my own failure to escape much sooner, and because I have allowed myself to follow their wishes for so long I have effectively cut off my own route for escape because explaining after apparently 40 years of being the 'dutiful daughter' why I want to never see any of them again would be incredibly difficult.

Please don't make the same mistake I did. If you have managed now to create even a little gap between you and them please please nurture and grow it until you are properly free. I would hate for you to get to be my age and still feel the way you do.

Ulterego: I do see what you mean about starting small and I do try to get that distance as much as I can. Unfortunately it doesn't ever last that long because I end up being harangued by step sisters, step father etc. until I give in and go back to the role I have had to play for so long. Sometimes I might get a month of peace at the most (if I say my husband needs me to travel with him, or that I have been poorly with flu or something), but then I just get to a point where my absence is so glaring that everyone really does demand an explanation about why I am not "doing my part" and at that point, faced with either telling the truth as to why I don't want to care for (or see) my adoptive mother and step father or lying and making up another excuse, I just weakly give in and take up my role again. It's a horrible, vicious cycle.

SometimesIwish Mon 11-May-20 01:01:31

Sorry, just spotted a typo, I meant nearly 60 years of being dutiful daughter. My proof reading skills are bad!

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