After her stunt at the funeral, I wanted to find out more about Ellen Gray, after all my middle name is Ellen, was I named after her.
Ellen was married to Dad’s friend Sam. They had four daughters. I remember going eeling with them after a flood. Ellen lost her line. The following day we went swimming. I found her line in the river, it had a large eel attached to it. Gave me a real fright.
When I was sixteen I worked at McKenzie’s department store. She would come into the store and ask how I was and then would ask about my father. I got highly annoyed with this. I still didn’t know much about her but I knew something must have happened between her and Dad. One day I so fed up that I said, oh you will never guess, Margaret is pregnant, I am going to have a little brother or sister, isn’t that neat. She went deadly pale and walked out of the shop. She never spoke to me again. I was lying of course, my little brother was a few years away. it was the first time I had purposely lied to an adult. I felt terrible but it did stop her asking about Dad.
Mum came to visit me for my birthday when I was in Botanical Road. She brought some lunch and we sat down and talked about all kinds of thing. I mentioned Ellen Gray. I pretended to know a lot more about her than I did. The first question I asked was, was I named after her. No she said, your father thought it was a good English name. However, Sam and Dad were old friends and they knew each other when I was born. Ellen and Sam had a daughter of my age and one older so I wasn’t totally convinced.
That day, I learnt the whole story. Ellen and Dad had an affair. Ellen was Mum’s friend and she would ring her to find out what shift Dad was on. She lived on Shakespeare Avenue just around the corner from Nana and Granddad. Nana learnt to drive in her fifties so she wasn’t confident driving on the main road so she would drive down Shakespeare Ave past Ellen Gray’s house to town, She would see Dad’s car parked there. It was by a phone box and since Dad worked for the telephone exchange, she figured it was broken and he was fixing it. Dad would see her drive by and think she was spying on him.
One day Dad and Ellen went to Mum and said they were running off together to Dunedin. She was leaving her children with Sam. The whole family was in shock, nobody had any idea. However, Dad changed his mind, he decided to stay with his family and instead got a transfer to Hawera. We all moved there.
However, Ellen wasn’t happy with that. She came to see Dad to try and win him back at several times to all the places we lived. Mum always knew when she was around.One obvious clue was the heel prints outside the master bedroom window. But Dad stayed with us.
My parents finally separated when we lived in Tauranga, she tried again. This time she met her match with Margaret. Margaret made it very clear that her attention was unwelcome and she was wasting her time.. That was just before Carol’s funeral.
I often wondered what happened to her and a chance meeting with someone who knew her, gave me some answers. She stayed with Sam and became a grandmother. She worked hard all her life. My informant said there was always an air of sadness about her, like she had missed out on something, She died around 2001.
In modern terms she would have been dubbed a stalker.
But really she thought she had found the love of her life, but he belonged to someone else and she couldn’t change that.
And that is actually kind of sad.