When our sister was first diagnosed with her cancer she chose not to tell her partner, Jim Perrin. On coming home from the hospital she deliberately withheld the information in order to protect him; choosing instead, despite her own new terror, to give him no extra cause for grief or concern: she knew how hard it was for him — how anguished he was, following his son’s recent and unexpected death. And with the book — which he later described in a letter to her, as ‘… this book which has been an albatross for years’ — nearing completion, she did everything she could to give him the peace and tranquility he required for his work.
Despite all her efforts though, unfortunately they were never sufficient: he, in his newly bereaved distress, would not ‘let go’ and continued, as before, to compare unfavourably (with his usual criticism and accusation), the actions and behaviour of her sons with those of his own — the son now lost to him.
How could one imagine Jim Perrin’s sense of devastation — his own son no longer there? — not ‘lost’ by illness or by accident — but in a last despairing act by his own hand, whilst our sister’s sons, for whom he felt no affinity and whom he actively denigrated, were alive and very much in evidence with their youth and natural vitality…
His resentment against them grew: it became carved in high relief. At first his ire was for the eldest son; gradually the focus changed to the younger. Nothing whatever that Jac could say or do would mollify him.
Later, he blamed her for the ‘fact’ — he said in one letter, Jim Perrin applies more pressure, that her sons had prevented him from being able to relate properly with his own son, and to his daughter, when they came to visit him. It was a nonsensical thing to say and sad that it was his interpretation as Jac’s children very much liked them and they had enjoyed each others’ company; perhaps he had felt some jealousy as they spent time together.
To such a crescendo of FURY did he build, over their ‘perceived’ lack of care and understanding, and of ‘right-mindedness’ (a favourite and frequently used phrase) that for Jac things went from bad to hardly bearable.
One of her sons had written a message in the book of condolences, trying to find the right words, which so infuriated and incensed Jim Perrin, that he never, from that day, forgave him. Neither Jac nor her sisters, nor indeed others who were shown it could quite understand the extravagant rage which this comment provoked. It was certainly not a ‘run of the mill’ platitude, nor a clichéd condolence; he had thought about it carefully and had tried, most sincerely, to write as one young man to another who was no longer there.
In a worked-up anger — and prone to hysteria in an argument — Jim Perrin quoted this comment, incorrectly, in a vehement conversation (yet another) when he was castigating her sons and her loyalty to them. Our sister, denying that the words which he had ‘quoted’ were correct, went across to the caravan to find the book: leaving it open at the relevant page she placed a book-mark to prove his error and she left. Overwhelmed by Jim Perrin’s ever-increasing harrying she felt the need for seclusion, and wishing to avoid endless further confrontation and without at that point telling him — she quietly went away.
She withdrew from a situation which by now was becoming ever harder for her to endure. She stayed away for three days, in a little hotel in Betws y Coed; a place she had always loved and had visited many times — close to a waterfall of renowned beauty: the magical ‘Swallow Falls’. She did let him know through a third party that she was safe but not wishing to see him she refused to let him know where she was. This of course added to his outrage; his feelings of impotence. Failing entirely to understand Jac’s own needs he later, in a letter to her, said of this time: ‘…WHEN YOU WALKED OUT ON ME.’ — Our capitals.
She was quite appalled by Jim Perrin’s inexcusable attitude to her sons and — although their relationship was as yet relatively short — already had discovered other elements of his personality that she deplored. (This was even before she learned that he had fathered a child shortly before they had met — a child whose existence he had kept secret from her.) Now she was facing the battle of her life with her cancer and urgently needed her equanimity to be restored.
After this brief interlude for reflection in Betwys y Coed, Jac returned to her home. At first Jim Perrin refused outright to believe that she had been staying in a nearby local hotel (his perrinoa going into over-drive), and it was only after seeing the irrefutable evidence of the credit card statement that he was obliged to accept that what she had told him was the truth.