When I was a baby my mother received a letter from her father 'back home' in Ireland. Her mother was ill and she should, if possible, get home in order to say goodbye. There was little money, my father was working long hours in a factory and could'nt take unpaid time off, she had two other children and I was unwell. She spoke to our family GP, who was also Irish, and had in fact delivered me at home. Should she leave me? what was his advice? He told her that she should say a prayer for her mother but stay here with me, her baby, who needed her more. She took his advice with a heavy heart, and always regretted it. Many, many years later I was able to take mom to her mothers grave. It was a strange feeling, knowing that I was the reason mom had not been there when her mother was laid to rest.
At the weekend mom wanted me to take her to the graveside of her brother to lay a Christmas wreath. The snow is quite deep and a journey that should have taken less than an hour took well over one. Once home and free of coats and boots, we had a cup of tea. She said that as a child it was not unusual for her to share her bed with her mother, and that she remembered looking up at her mother, who would be saying her rosary quietly, and my mother making a wish that she would never see her mother dead, or in a coffin. How strange, she said, that I got my wish. She remarked on the letter from her father, and casually said 'I looked at it again not so long ago...then I put a match to it and said a prayer...'.
This conversation and the subsequent emotions I felt have been on my mind since then......I too don't want to see my mother dead or in a coffin....what does the future hold? and how I wish I had seen the letter...she often said that her father had beautiful handwriting, and to know that a letter that I had no knowledge of was in the house and I could have read it, seen my Grandfathers words, unsettled me somehow..of course it was her's and private to her but how I wish it had'nt gone up in smoke