"I was adopted when I was 7 days old - I fit into a shoe box"

Beryl, 75

I was adopted when I was 7 days old - I fit into a shoe box. My mum and dad already had a 6 year old son when they adopted me, but he never liked me, even when we became older, we just never got on.  When I was 44, I found my birth mum, but she wasn’t a very nice person – she was an alcoholic and often told me she wouldn’t have allowed me to marry young. She died only recently at 93.  I tried to find my dad for years. He was a Cherokee Indian but I haven’t had any luck in finding him – he’s probably dead already since he was older than mum.

I have had a lot of sadness and tragedies in my adult life, although it has made me stronger.  I cared for my mum who had dementia, and I felt really guilty when I had to put her into a nursing home, it was the hardest thing, especially when she no longer recognised me. I also cared for my husband who died of throat cancer – he’s been gone 8 years now. He was a Vietnam Vet, and he got cancer because of Agent Orange. At the moment, I help care for the lady down the road.  I’m worried about my grandsons though – I had 4, but 2 have died due to suicide. I want to protect my family from any tragedies.

One of my grandsons stays with me when he’s in town, and he helps out when I need him to. I also keep pretty active - I ride my bike every day, and I love gardening, although I hate green tree frogs!

Dione Brockwell