Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 36: Philip my son, my son Philip

Tuesday, 10th February, 11.15 p.m.

E. [Edith Witriol] presenting a rather East Lynne-ish picture to-night. Poor girl – she has been going through it. She is being kept on a low diet, is having the wind taken out of her and, as she says, her body is not her own.

Next time – if there is a n.t. – perhaps I would keep my mother to her word and E. could go in as a private patient. The medical attention would not be better, perhaps, but she wouldn’t be mucked about and observed by so many people and perhaps one wouldn’t find sisters of the bitchy type whom I encountered to-night. She made an unnecessary crack about the food that was being brought to Edith and which E. couldn’t eat. She has also created some alarm and despondency. When I asked her about the Briss [short for brit milahcovenant of circumcision’], she said I was to tell the Mohel  [circumciser] that “it was a Caesarean and not very satisfactory” and that the ward sister was to examine the baby before the mila could be performed. She probably meant that it was not very satisfactory for a Caesarian baby to be c-cised on the 8th day after birth, but her remark was upsetting all the same. As far as a layman can judge, Philip seems healthy enough – no special measures are being taken in connection with him as far as one can see – and the number of “Caesars” is legion.

I find it very hard to experience any paternal feelings. No time. School, chores (minimum, admitted – Mrs H. will clean out the flat on Friday, and most meals I have at the Mums, and my mum will give me provisions for the w/e), to E. at hospital, then phone calls to both Mums & Alf [Katz, Edith’s brother], to Sam (he in bed to-day with cold; a worry, he can’t afford to take a day off; fortunately Lily was able to go in to-day), to Bikkur Cholim [lit. ‘visiting the sick’ society] woman, to Mohel, to Franny, [?] etc. Before writing this, dashed off another application for deputy headship pro-forma. But must try to think less of myself. All that matters is that Edith and Philip should be well. And myself too. If I have to be confined to bed, let it be in the holidays. But better not at all. Angst, angst, angst all the time. Philip – there’s no point in reproaching me with having brought you into the world, son. Admittedly my reasons were, au fond, au fond, right au fond, selfish, but in spite of the times when I have said I wished I had never been born or that I had died, I am, as of now, life-affirming. Anyway, for all I know you may turn out to be a cheerful extrovert. It is too much to expect you to be spared all sorrows, but may you be healthy above all. The rest will follow. Perhaps I have got paternal feelings after all. Philip my son, my son Philip. When you’re giving me heart-aches later on, low position in class, shikse-kreechin [going after non-Jewish girls] (by which I don’t mean forming a genuine attachment to a decent non-Jewish girl to love, I shan’t do any shiva  [week long period of mourning following a relative’s death], mirror-covering act, let her “come over”, or – if you’re both agnostics (and how can I blame you for being what I am) at least Phil — al tifrosh min ha-tzibbur [do not separate yourself from the community] – when, etc. — I must try to think of you as you were in your cot to-night; your shrivelled mug, your black hair, your bawling and yawning.


2 thoughts on “Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 36: Philip my son, my son Philip

  1. Pingback: Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 49: Death by trivia | Joseph Witriol's writings

  2. Pingback: Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 47: Woodberry Down up; Mount Pleasant difficult | Joseph Witriol's writings

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