Monday, December 20, 2010

up in smoke..

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


Steve said...

Your mother plainly need to let go of the letter. I don't doubt she had her reasons. Maybe you should tell her gently about how you feel - maybe she will at least tell you what was in the letter?

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

I don't think we can ever live our lives without thinking "what if" every so often. We make decisions, take certain paths, yet never know what would have happened if we'd taken another path.
A fascinating story and one that's made me stop and think today x

The Dotterel said...

Sound like she was performing her own very private (and essential) rite of passage. And they are so important, both public and personal.

auntiegwen said...

I hadn't thought about it till now but I never want to see anyone I love after they have died either.

Much love to you xxx

Kevin Musgrove said...

We live in a world and a half of "what ifs," but it sounds like your mum's reconciled herself with her decision.

Have a virtual hug, I suspect you may need one.

libby said...

To each and every one of you, thanks for commenting. It is so lovely that people take time out of their busy lives to write such kind words...and maybe I will speak to mom about the letter at some point....and Kevin..well thanks for the hug...kindness through the ether is always wonderful.

Twenty seven.

For now anyway.