6 Mar 2006

Family gathering

Yesterday it was ten years since the day my mother died of cancer. My aunt invited everyone to her house to gather, have a meal and remember her.

So I drove with Gordon and the 3 children 100 miles to my home town. Everyone was going to the church first so Lady joined my Dad and sister while I went to take the boys in. Duncan hasn’t been to church since he was about 2 since I’ve stopped going and he was intimidated by the large towering building. He said ‘no go in scary castle’, so I turned round and took him back to the car and Gordon looked after him while Thomas and I returned to the church. It was nice to sit among all the family members and admire all the babies, though the service did little for me. We all went to the graveyard next before heading over to my aunt’s house.
My Mum’s 4 sisters and their husbands were there as well as lots of cousins and their children. The house was filled with people and noise. Duncan wanted to go to another aunt’s house at first, the one who has a working cuckoo clock. But he went in, found a few toys and a supply of sweets in one of the cupboards and he was happy. I am very close to my aunt, the one who organised the whole thing. She had prepared a huge amount of food and we all ate and drank and had a great time. Having these big parties with lots of people and food is a great tradition on my mother’s side. I’d brought some of the letters Mammy (as we always called her) wrote me when I was at university and passed them out among a few people. They were always very short and are among the only ones she wrote, mainly because my siblings were mostly at home before she died. She wrote exactly as she would have spoken and when I read them I can hear her voice.

The children loved playing with their cousins and spent most of the time outside. Gordon had really worried about Duncan before we went and we planned to leave if it was clear he was having a hard time. However he was perfectly happy all the time we were there. He found a little yellow lorry which he carried around and my aunt had thoughtfully bought him a new Thomas the tank engine book with noisy buttons. Both boys loved playing chase with their big cousin. Thomas was busy making everyone fall in love with him by flashing his big brown eyes and sweet talking them. Lady was talking to few elderly relatives about home-education (after they asked if she liked school) and left them looking baffled at the very idea!
I hugged my aunt when we were going and thanked her for having us all and told her that it was my favourite way to spend the day.

Memories of Kathleen
• Hugging her every time I was leaving home to return to university; both of us in tears in case it was the last time we’d be together,
• Filling with joy when she would walk up the country road to meet me off the school bus,
• Baking together,
• Feeling so proud when she’d made a dress for herself, me and my doll using the same material,
• Choosing my wedding dress together, both of us picking the same dress instantly, her crying when I tried it on,
• Getting married 25 days after she died because we hadn’t brought our wedding date forward by quite enough time,
• Her crying on the phone as her sister had just told her about my cousin who was unexpectedly pregnant, whereas Mammy knew she would never know her grandchildren,
• Lying beside me when I was little and had the flu and telling me how she hated to see me so sick,
• Wrapping Christmas presents for my youngest brother and sister; when I exclaimed at how much they were getting, she pointed out that she wanted it to be a special Christmas as they wouldn’t have another with her,
• Never ending hugs and kisses and the feeling of utter safety in her arms,
• Too many days of pain and sickness and suffering,
• Spending the last day with her and Daddy in the hospice.

How I wish she could’ve known the children, how I miss her.
She will never be forgotten.


Anonymous said...


My husband’s mother died when he was 10; he’s very pragmatic about it but all those things bring it home to me how much he has missed out on, growing into an adult and father without a mother.

She sounds a lovely woman and a party sounds such a perfect way to spend the day, a fitting memory i’m sure.

Much love,

Anonymous said...

Of course am crying. I know the pain doesn’t go away…but does it become bitter-sweet somehow? I cannot really say more (choked) except, well, it must have been hard for her to leave you…but she would have been so proud of the mother you are. I hope there is a lot of sunshine for you this week.

Sharon McDaid said...

Thank you both for your kind words. A relative paid me the greatest compliment on Sunday when she said I was just like my mum, in my ways and in how I am with my children. There are some things I have consciously changed in my interactions with my children, but I try to keep that all encompassing love and support that she always had.

Elderfairy, the feelings I have now are nothing to the raw, all consuming pain of those early days. It has become, as you say, bitter-sweet. Now, I smile when I think of her. I couldn’t have believed just after her death that I would ever be able to feel whole again, but I do. I think of you often. The cliché is true; only passing time will really heal you.