Thursday, January 04, 2018

Inheritance

From my mother I inherited thick hair and good skin.

I also inherited her love of music, live theatre and reading along with a passion for needlework: sewing, knitting, crochet and embroidery. She was skilled in all 4 of these disciplines, I in but 2 but she would tell you that I exceeded her ability in those two: knitting and sewing as I took them further into designing.

She was a woman of her time, born in rural Ireland in 1914, traumatized by the explosion of her village barracks ("it shook the ground I was playing on") in 1920 when she was 6 resulting in her becoming a life long Irish republican. She was self-educated and was managing a large grocery store when she married at 28, thus thwarting any further ambition of her own {"he wore me down"). It didn't kill her thirst for learning and she could converse readily on the novels of Charles Dickens. She took advanced cooking classes and singing lessons when she was in her forties.

She found it easy to make friendships, her outgoing personality and overall petite prettiness and "style" attracted even strangers drawn to share their confidences with her.

She knew quality from a mile away and would advocate owning only a little quality versus a lot of cheap trash. She loved roses and hydrangeas and field mushrooms and blackberries and the sea. No matter the temperature of the water, she'd take one sight of the sea and before we could blink, her ever-ready swimsuit was on her and she'd be diving in, breathless, waving her arms telling her shivering children: "it's lovely, you'll warm up in no time!"

She was a true gameball as we Irish say.


From my father I inherited bright blue eyes and one of those faces that shows visible displeasure when things are "not going our way."

I also inherited his love of words, new ones, old ones, complicated ones, words with multiple meanings and interpretations, words of obscure etymologies.

He gave me my first library card when I was 4 (he taught me to read) and our routine, every night after tea till I was at least 14, was that I'd sit on the arm of his easy chair and we'd complete the Evening Echo crossword together. I learned about newts and tors and bitterns. Later we played Scrabble and when we traveled together in later years we packed the Scrabble board for our after dinner game. Once, he bought a beautiful hand crafted turntable in a prison workshop in Maine which I still use for Scrabble.

He taught me knitting - he had 5 older sisters and had observed them. I remember his patience one time in a wool shop in Camden when I took hours poring over obscure old knitting patterns talking to him about Guernseys (ganseys) and Jersey fishermen sweaters and Aran patterns and Shetland wedding ring shawls and convent lacework.

I asked him once what he would have done with his life if he had the resources. He answered without hesitation: "I'd have created new varieties of roses."

I was gobsmacked.

And then I realized, for the very first time, how he and my mother were drawn to each other.

28 comments:

  1. Loved your remembrance, thank you for sharing.

    -Moe

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  2. And when that light of recognition dawns, it never again goes out. I hope they were both good to you. Beautiful memory.

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    1. They weren't perfect - for indeed who is - and we were all left incomplete and bereft when my mother died far too young.

      This post was triggered by a book I'm reading but more on that later....
      XO
      WWW

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  3. Wonderfully descriptive. Lovely, very lovely. Looking forward to hearing about the book. Kim in PA (USA)

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    1. Thank you Kim. I need to update my Books Read for 2017 and start 2018.
      Happy New year.

      XO
      WWW

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    2. What a wonderful tribute to your parents. God tapped your shoulder giving you the insight to recognize that.

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  4. A wonderful author did. More on that later.

    XO
    WWW

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  5. This is lovely.

    Your description of your mom reminded me of my grandmother, Mabel Doughtery, the finest Irishwoman to ever walk the planet. I try every day to be more like her.

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    1. They were tough women, our foremothers. I remember how strong my grannies were and my tough old great grandmother who was not hesitant about announcing her dislikes, lol.

      XO
      WWW

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  6. Fascinating. I am inspired to draft a post on what I inherited from my parents!

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    1. Please do so Ramana, I look forward to it.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. While of course it's not true, I now feel as if I know your parents. You have the gift of seeing them as people, not just as they relate to you, and you've shown them to us.

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    1. Linda, thank you. What a compliment as they felt so alive to me as I wrote this.

      XO
      WWW

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  8. THIS IS WONDERFUL
    THE BRIGHT SPOT IN MY HEART
    THIS DAY...AND I SMILE

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    1. I'm so glad Ernestine. I do hope you're settled now and not too shaken up by the move.

      XO
      WWW

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  9. Lovely piece, WWW! I hope that, somewhere in the Great Beyond, your parents are together and able to read, or sense your words, know your memories, feel the love! :)

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    1. What struck me most before writing it was that because my mother died young she tended to be defined by her death as most are who die young.

      She was a wee powerhouse and left an impact on any who met her.

      XO
      WWW

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  10. I love to read you, and I do for years now. I wish you all the best in thi new year.

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    1. What a lovely thing to say. I'm very touched.

      XO
      WWW

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  11. Delightful description of your mother, father — coming to understand their mutual attraction. I’ve sometimes considered the same about my own parents.

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  12. I'd never understood it until then and she was long dead at that stage. I knew they met at the Gaelic League and how popular she was with all the young men there.

    XO
    WWW

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  13. It's funny how my understanding of my parents grows with age. I still find parts of me from them. You know what they say, "Nature or nurture. Either way it's your parents' fault."

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    1. Or Philip Larkin's famous poem - They f*** you up your mum and dad.....LOL

      XO
      WWW

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  14. "She found it easy to make friendships, her outgoing personality " - that's you too, WWW. (Remembering encounter on ship 50-years-ago - a beautiful, vivacious, spirited young woman - still beautiful after all these years !).

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  15. What a lovely post! I like how you are very aware of what you inherited from each of your parents. And your reference to the Philip Larkin poem in the comment above - that is my all time favorite poem about families!

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    1. And you'd know for sure in your business SAW :) how very true it is!

      XO
      WWW

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