I am with my Mum this evening and we are talking about her step-Father Sam, who died 26 years ago today. Nonny (my Grand-Mother) couldn’t have moved from East Germany to London without the help of a man – not for his money, but his emotional support which she needed after living away for 14 years.
Sam was married but his marriage was definitely on the rocks. In those days both parties had to agree to divorce, or you had to have strong evidence of adultery, desertion (for 7 years), physical or mental cruelty. Nonny and Sam lived in sin for 3 years before his wife cooperated.
As a teenager Mum & her sister Karen said to Sam, “You’re not our Father and you can’t tell us what to do!” He said, “I know.”
Nonny & Sam married on Euston Road at the registry office in 1967.
Mum said he was a good man, especially for Nonny; he looked after her. She was a bit vulnerable and he had the quality of friendship, as well as being her husband and love. He was kind and generous and easily approachable.
Mum says, “As I grew older, I regarded him more as my Father. My real Father only asked me once to come to East Berlin, but it was on my son’s birthday so I couldn’t. I went there on my Dad’s birthday instead. Usually if I wanted to see him I had to invite myself, which I did.
In England, before they were married I was ashamed of Nonny & Sam not being so, and I didn’t know how to introduce Sam – the situation was unusual.”
Sam knew Nonny & Gramp from way back in the late 40s through the Communist party.
Mum says, “After living in East Berlin I vowed never to join the Communist Party, or any party. You might accuse me of sitting on the fence but I speak from experience.”
Nonny & Sam’s marriage was always positive, favourable and stable. He nor she ever did the dirty. She was 45 when they got together; she had been through a lot, lived in several countries and wasn’t having more children. She was ready for a calm life and he was the right man.
When Sam was younger he was devoted to the Communist Party. He founded and ran a non-profit organisation which sold stationery. He did not particularly share artistic interests with Nonny (she was an artist) nor did he have much taste. Nonny made sure he wore nice clothes and he didn’t mind. She wore the trousers in a nice way.
Sam’s influence helped in Mum’s choice of husband. His caring nature proved enduring and Mum was affected by this. His easy going affability won over the volatility represented by her Father.