Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Happy Anniversary

My father reminded me that it would be six years on Saturday next since my mother died. It's understandable, I suppose, as we trundle on that we seem to measure time by the number of people who have died, or have had a Month's Mind, or whose gravestone was put up, or whose grave is in a disgraceful condition or maybe not so disgraceful now we've fixed it.

I do have a strong feeling of family, even among those uncles, aunts and cousins whom I don't see very often. We are a peculiar lot we Walshes and Sweeneys and Redmonds and Tanhams, Hills, Spears and Rodgers. We leave one another steadfastly to ourselves for most of the time until something happens to bring us back together. Then someone not seen for a long while turns up unexpectedly, mostly, it seems these days, at funerals. We cluster together and try to figure out who the people in other little clusters are. Someone will intoduce themselves and shake a hand or kiss a cheek and an old friendship will be rekindled or a new acquaintence begun. Myself, I am wholly satisfied to know that the family is out there doing its own thing, moving on with itself and also that we can nod at each other a bit from time to time in passing. It's enough.

I know my Mam would have been astounded and astonished to see the picture my sister sent me this week of her daughter's baby asleep in the womb. A 3D scan taken in the hospital in closeup showed the wee laddy or lassie (we still await the surprise on that one) as clearly as if a picture had been taken of the babby in its own warm cot. And it won't be in one of those until December, when it's due.

Our Mam's third great-grandchild. And my father's too, of course.

He stared, astounded, at the photograph on the computer screen.

"Isn't it amazing what they can do now?" I said, to fill the silence.

"Yes," he said, his voice catching just a little.

So we're off and doing what people do. The family growing. And thinking, at this time of the year, where we've come from. My Mam would have found a reason in it to pour a giant whiskey and colour it with red lemonade and call herself "Mad aul' wan" with her wicked laugh on her. She would have poured us each a bigger measure, tut-tutting when we protested that we'd be drunk or had to drive or even walk somewhere.

"You only live once," she'd say. "The doctor says I'm not to have it at all!"

Sure, what does he know, Ma?

"Plenty, maybe. But I don't care."

Cheers... Mad aul' wan...

And she'd laugh and sip whiskey and watch the television.

When the adverts came on, she'd look up at the photos on the wall and say:

"Imagine all those are my family! Edie would never believe it."

And she'd look at the picture of her mother, Edie, til the ads were gone.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was doing alright just thinking of Mum again every day over the last week until I read your post. I sit teary eyed and wishing I had been closer to Dublin and could have popped in more to see our Mother over the years. She was such a gentle woman, loved a titter and had a cool sense of humour. We sat whispering many a night and laughing, had I told her a funny happening or other, when I did manage to visit. She loved a giggle.Her portrait my daughter presented to me a few Christmas's ago sits on the wall looking at down at anyone who visits. Everyone comments that her eyes follow you around the room. A tribute to her and my daughter for having those lovely eyes.
Willie, you are so right, Family should be just that, getting on with life but being there when needed. I have proudly brought my own kids up to think like that. A sister in-law phoned me to remind me of another sister in-laws 50th Birthday, which happens to fall on the Anniversary of our Mothers death. I informed my sister in-law a card had already been sent to Dublin some days previously. "I knew you would be organised" she commented. I told her with a sudden "frog in my throat" that I could never forget that particular sister in-laws Birthday. They say the passage of time heals. Only to a certain extent. Here we are in our world, mourning our loved one's and they it seems are "in a better place". Miss you still Mum XX.................. Joan

Joyce said...

After reading your blog and Joan's comment about your Mam I too am full of tears. This is also my Dad's anniversary weekend, so I'm thinking of him at this time. Family is hugely important to me too, as you know, and you my friend are part of my extended family.

On a lighter note, i was only thinking the other day that Willie Walsh never makes a spelling mistake in his blog, but today I have found a typo. At last, a man who makes mistakes! Yippee!!!!

Angharod said...

Doesn't seem like six years and more since we met online. The picture I remember of your Mother in the kitchen would have made a stunning painting. I miss her too, even though we never met, except through your writing.

Willie_W said...

Joyce >> I don't make mistakes. It was obviously a computer error.

Willie_W said...

Angh >> Time trundles on, eh? Blink and more than half a decade has gone by, it seems.

Jo said...

Mum and Dad's Wedding Anniversary was yesterday 29th Sept. Would have been 58 years. Time goes so quickly.