Posts Tagged ‘dublin’

This one is for my Auntie Maureen in Dublin, Ireland. She will soon be turning eighty years old. The fourth of the seven kids to do so. Bless her and bless them all.

I know everyone gets a little on edge if they think I am going to write about them. But I do not think that anyone should worry. My blog is intended to share things I have learned on this journey called life. Never to disparage. Maybe poke a little fun. But usually at the ones that can take it.

She can take it.

Maureen, who is fluent in the Irish language, has many different names. Maureen is what we call her. She was baptized Mary Frances. She was never, ever called that. Her husband called her Maire. Irish for Mary. She has said on more than one occasion that she will accept cheques made out to any of the above names.

She is one of seven wonderful children that my Granny and Granda brought into this world. My grandparents both made their way, as single young people, across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Luckily, for this huge clan, they met and married.

Maureen was their fourth child born in New York. The family would soon make the decision to return to Ireland in 1935.  Maureen’s older twin siblings, my Dad and his sister Betty, would turn four years old during that voyage on the “Transylvania” They landed in Glasgow on March 24, 1935. The family was met in the port of Derry by my great-grandfather Lennon and my great-uncle Frank McCabe.

There would be more children born in Ireland and the family was complete after the birth of three more lovely girls.

Auntie Maureen grew up in Ireland. Met the love of her life there and made a family of her own. All lovely.

She has a love of Irish history, language and ancestry. But that’s not all.

She is good-humored. We were once in the back seat of a car. She hadn’t been feeling well. A bit of a cold. So she would blow her nose now and again. And whip out the Chapstick tube meant to moisten her lips. It is a clear lip balm. Well, at one point I looked over and there was Auntie Maureen going at it for a good few minutes taking care of those lips. But she had mistakenly taken out her colored lipstick. I gave the “stop” signal immediately upon noticing. It was a bit like a mad woman in a horror flick. I had visions of a little boy going crazy on his sister’s dolls with a tube of lipstick. The point of it was that we had a good laugh.

She is a loyalist. Okay, that was a joke. Sort of a joke. By definition she is a loyalist. One who is loyal to a cause. She is and will always be loyal to her Ireland.

But not just her country.

She is loyal to her family. She is the go-to girl for all things family. History, ancestry and current day news. She is the one that keeps connected with all branches of the family. Whether it is the folks from our ancestral town or local Dublin folk. Or family across the Atlantic. Or ones that lived more than a hundred years ago. It’s all about being connected.

She is dependable. The one that would run around and take care of business. Whether it was wrapping up details of her parent’s affairs or getting Aunt Mary situated in her old age. And if she said she would do something, by golly, it would get done. She would be the one to visit you and check on you.

She is a woman. Of course, you know that.  But when I was younger, I was just a girl and she was just an aunt. A lovely auntie but just an aunt. When I grew older and I became a woman myself I was fortunate to be able to spend time with her. And then I realized that it was no longer just kid and aunt. So, I asked her about her life. Woman to woman. Childbirth. Raising children. Living with in-laws. And she was open and honest with me.

She is sacrificing. Whether she acknowledges it or not. My Uncle Stiophan, may he rest in peace, was most definitely the love of her life and they raised two wonderful children together. In the home of his parents. Without complaint. Now, I am sure the in-laws were lovely people, but I think we all can imagine the sacrifices that took place on a daily basis. With all eyes upon you and not a ton of privacy. Raising kids is hair-raising enough. I couldn’t imagine doing it in front of other folks. Especially if they weren’t my own parents. The ones who raised me. Forget about raised hair. I’d probably lose my hair.

She is helpful. When I started actually researching my family’s ancestry she was with me all the way. My kindred spirit. Assisted me in so many ways. On both sides of my family. Tromped around graveyards and churches. Sometimes in the pouring rain! Well, it is Ireland, after all.

There was one graveyard in Ballynahinch, County Down, that took us hours to find.  A priest had told us it was just down a lane on the other side of town. Off Crabtree Lane. We were just about ready to give up and head back but we gave it one more go and the fifteenth cruise around the town finally paid off. With the help of God and a friendly fellow who led us there. It was a bit creepy with the overgrown trees, bushes and terrible gray clouds that made the place almost black.  We were all alone. There were gaping holes in the untended grounds. I kept thinking a skeletal hand would reach out and grab my ankle bringing me into the netherworld. I said more than once, “And that was the last time we ever saw Maureen and Mary!”

She is adventuresome. We explored different places together. We visited the St. Patrick’s Center in Downpatrick. And we just missed the start of the tour. But there were a bunch of British tourists already grouping together. Yes, that’s right, we quietly melted into their group while giving an occasional nod or smile. Imagine the two of us with a group of Brits in Northern Ireland. We were not going to give up our “free” tour by tipping them off with a slip of the accented tongue. Don’t worry about us “getting over” on the St. Patrick’s Center. I am sure we made a donation along the way. And I gave them a bit of good PR after the enjoyable visit.

She is resilient. She lost her loving husband Stiophan. I remember she sent me a note saying “Life will never be the same.” I never forgot that and knew that it would be true. But she kept herself busy. Maybe even too busy, by her account, during the grieving process. And no, life never would be the same for her after losing her best friend. But she kept going and continued to create a life of her own. She has friends, sisters, children, grandchildren, activities, and hobbies that keep her involved and living. Not the same life. A different one. But still a life of her own.

She is smart and quick. About five years ago I wrote her a note asking for family information but I sent it to her daughter, my cousin Maire. Because Auntie Maureen wasn’t “on the computer” and didn’t have an email address. Well, that quickly changed. Within a couple of years she was not only “on the computer” but she meticulously typed up a book on our family history from her perspective. She thanked me for giving her the nudge to document it. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to the history. She also thanked me for having the courage to send her very first email. I was so proud of her. Sure, there were a few, “I sent you an email but it seems to have disappeared!” but in time she became an old pro.

I think you get the idea. She was and is all of these things. There are many adjectives that can be used to describe this woman. Welcoming, warm, helpful, loving, intelligent, good-natured, good-humored, interesting, loyal, dependable, charitable, devout are just some that come to mind.

I really just wanted to wish her a happy birthday in case my card gets lost somewhere between Malaysia and Ireland. But it morphed into this blog posting.

Auntie Maureen, or whatever your real name is, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with good health and happiness. Not just on your 80th birthday. But every day for the entire year. And many, many more years.

In the last eighty years you were a caretaker, mother, friend, lover (yeah, that’s right, I said lover), aunt, niece, cousin, daughter, companion,  and grandmother. And each and every one of us is a better person for having felt your touch. We all appreciate you.

I love you and I am glad that you are my aunt.  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Go mbeannaí Dia duit

Your loving niece,

Mary Beth

xoxox

P.S. My apologies for not using the fada on appropriate words. Auntie Mairead once told me how to do it on my keyboard but it didn’t work. I know where they belong. I just don’t know how to get them there. You probably learned that in your first computer course.

MB

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Last week, Rory, my eldest and twenty-one years old, called me from a nearby Malaysian island. I asked how this was and how that was. Great conversation.

But then I blow it. Like I always do.

She said she was going to go for a swim before getting on the ferry that would head back to the mainland.

I immediately said, “Wait? What? Where are the other girls? Alone? You’re not going swimming alone? You can’t…………..”

She was like, “Mom, you always do this. It’s all going along great and then you……”

I guess the end of that sentence would be, “act like a mom?”

My entire family acts like a mom. Even my dad. Maybe it comes from his side of the family. Bunch of bosses. Not sure why she doesn’t get that after twenty-one years.

Dadisms  

“Start moving into the left lane now. The exit’s coming up in fifty-four miles.”

“You’re going to stop in and see “insert any neighbor’s name”, right?”

“The gas tank is only 3/4 full? Fill it up. Better to be safe.”

“Put on the light if you are reading. You’ll go blind sitting over there in the dark!”

“Back the car in.”

“You can’t go out without a coat!”

“You have to stay to the left of the bike path when walking. Only the bikes are allowed in the right lane!”

“Eat your salad. It makes you pretty.”

“Eat your carrots. You never saw a bunny with glasses, did you?”

Dad’s sister, Auntie Rose Marie in New York speaking on the telephone to her adult daughter who is vacationing with me on Cape Cod  

“Everybody got their sunscreen on?”

Calcium and daily vitamin consumed?

“Hats?”

“Helmets?” For the love of God, I’m walking!

“Sensible walking shoes?”

“Bottled water?” It was a stroll not a jungle trek.

“Don’t drink and drive.” On bicycles?

Cousins (daughters of Dad’s sister, Rose Marie, while we were spending time together this past summer)

“Everybody got their sunscreen on?”

Calcium and daily vitamin consumed?

“Hats?”

“Helmets?” For the love of God, I’m walking!

“Sensible walking shoes?”

“Bottled water?” It was a stroll not a jungle trek.

“Wine anyone?”

Auntie Maureen in Ireland

“Just stay directly on the footpath.  All the way. Do not veer towards the right. Do not veer towards the left. Just stay directly on the path and you won’t get lost. Just stay on the path.”

“No, don’t set your handbag down there on the seat. Mind it.” During Sunday Mass in a suburban Dublin church.

“Do not look them directly in the eyes and watch your valuables.” Little tinker children loitering around us in the city. Okay, maybe she didn’t say anything about looking them directly in the eyes.

Dad’s youngest sister, Aideen, in Ireland calling her adult daughter (who I was staying with) after a week of suggestions on what we should be doing. 

“What’s on for today?”

My cousin answered, “How could I know? I haven’t been told yet!”

I was laughing. Sure, we are adults but we are so used to being bossed around by the Dads and the Mams that it is almost second nature to us. We take directions very well.

Why, oh why, did it skip my daughter’s generation? Why doesn’t she get this?

My dad has three more sisters that luckily escaped this posting. And I could go on but just wanted to give you a taste. An idea. What Rory needs to always remember. This “bossiness” only stems from a true love, a desire to protect, and a willingness to demonstrate the utmost caring.

But she might not realize it until she has one of her own. And starts to “blow it” or gets a bit “bossy.”

Sending thanks to every big bossy person in my family that blew it. The day you stop will be the day you don’t care.

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