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Monday, November 7, 2011

"You'd better ring home Miss"

My Auntie Brideys' husband Jack passed this last July.  And after 65 years of marriage, it's only natural for the rest of us to be concerned about how she's getting on without him. So I wasn't exactly surprised when my sister rung me up on Friday to talk about the families concerns.  "Anne" she said, "Bridey isn't one to talk about her feelings and you know it.  I haven't been able to get a thing out of about how she's feeling and neither can Cousin Margie.  You were always her favorite, so why don't you give her a ring and see what you can find out."  This is how that conversation went.


"You must be missing Jack something fierce Auntie....."  I started to say.  "Now don't you sound just like your mother Anne. "  she interrupted me.  "You always were the one to take after her.  Oh and how I still miss her. Her and me, we played together as children. And the no-good we got up to, well you wouldn't believe it if I told you."  After spending half an hour crying over memories of my mum who'd been gone these past three years, I hung up the phone and just stared at it.  Bridey had done it again, she'd avoided talking about Jack. My Auntie is a master at avoiding uncomfortable questions and she never argues, she just "talks her way around it" until you've forgotten the reason you called in the first place.  So today, I thought I'd share a few stories about my mum, since I spent the weekend thinking of her.


This is a picture of my mum in Edinburgh in the 1950's.  My mum was a Catholic, but my father was a Protestant (no arguing in my home).  After my youngest sister was born, my father decided he was done having children and got a vasectomy. As I was ten years old at the time, I didn't know what that was, let alone that he'd had one.  This is how my mother dealt with it.

"Now children, you're poor da is sick and he needs his quiet, so leave him be."  As a kid in rural Ireland, having a parent who'd been in hospital was a big deal. It was a story you could tell your friends so you could feel big.  "Ah ma, I can tell he's in a bad way. Did he have an operation?"  I asked, hoping he'd had a really good one.  "Oh he was mighty sick he was.  It was his kidney, it was so infected it was near to exploding.  When the doctor took it out, that kidney burst right in his hands.  If the doctor hadn't gotten it out when he did, your da would be dead right now."  Well this was grand news indeed for me.  It was a major organ (the heart would have been better) and he'd almost died, I was cock of the walk for a good few days after that. My mother had brilliantly turned a sin into a benefit for all of us children. 

Another time when I was in my early twenties, I scared the life out of my mother by not calling her for two whole days. I was living in Dublin with two of my best chums and we girls were living the life. I had a boyfriend and a job. I was the perfect daughter.  One night I went to the theatre with my boyfriends best mate whose girlfriend had just dumped him.  The next day I called off work and decided to stay home and catch some sun on my tiny terrace garden.  I was sitting there sipping a gin and tonic, reading a book, listening to music and feeling very modern and grown up when I heard a knock on the front door.  I put down my drink, slipped my feet into my sandals and went to answer the door.  On the other side of the door stood a police officer wearing a huge grin on his face.  "You'd better ring home Miss, your ma is worried about you.  She seems to think you've been kidnapped and may be tied up in a basement somewhere."  So I rung my mum up, ready to give her the what for.  "Oh Jesus, you're safe child. I was so worried, I thought ya might be dead."  were the first words out of her mouth.  "Put my father on the phone ma" I said, knowing we'd just end up in a screaming match if I spoke to her at all.  So my father gets on the phone and explains to me that when I didn't ring mum up for two whole days, she called my boyfriend whose flatmate said he was out of town and said that I had gone to the theatre with another man.  The next day mum calls work and they tell her, I'd done called off sick. The only logical conclusion was that I'd been kidnapped by some strange man and was being held in a basement.  And my father ended the conversation like this "None of this would have happened if you'd just rung up your mother like your supposed to. You brought it on yourself." 



Now you would never think it to look at her, but this is the face of a devious criminal.  My Auntie told me this story.  Every year mum would fly over to the States to visit her sister and they'd have a grand time together.  What I didn't know was that my mum was a smuggler.  It seems that every time she went over, she filled her purse, her coat pockets and her on-board luggage with sausages, cheese and whiskey from Ireland, all of which is illegal.  Bridey said she'd barely wait till she'd cleared customs before she'd open her coat like a flasher and start showing off her latest "haul."  I've tried to imagine what would have happened had she ever been caught. Most likely the custom official would have been made to feel guilty about something he'd done as a child and let her go while promising to ring up his own mother straight-away. 

Now I can promise you all that I will be late getting to read your posts today and late to dealing with comments.  As my friends in Twitterland know, I'm down with a cold.  I finally got time to tweet and you lot were setting off fire crackers and burning staw men in bonfires, so I left most of you messages.  Hope you all had a great Guy Fawkes Day and that nobody got their fingers blown off.  

I'm off to the land of nod.  Nighty night. 







30 comments:

  1. Why would cheese and sausages be illegal? Whiskey is sort of understandable.

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  2. Irish mums are unique in their deviousness, never forgetting anything and making their sons and daughters feel bad with just a look.

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  3. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I can't even begin to imagine how much you must miss her and the pain you must feel every day over her loss. At least you have memories though, it's always great you have a way to remember her. I'm sorry to hear about your aunt as well, I hope she manages to open up about her feelings soon, it must absolutely eat her alive to lose her husband of 65 years. I'm going to be in a very similar situation with my uncle soon who has an incredibly ill wife and I know it's going to be hard to keep him integrated into the family and above the water when it comes to his loss.

    Thought provoking post as always. I hope things resolve themselves soon.

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  4. Not only do you have ways like your mum, you also look like her, Anne. I wish I could've known her. She sounds like she was a wonderful lady. Auntie Bridey seems to be the type who's always concerned about everyone else and wants to make them feel better. If anyone can let her know that it's okay to let someone try to make her feel better, it's you. I'm home from work recovering from my cold. I should be right as rain tomorrow. Hope Toki's taking good care of you :-).

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  5. Those were some great stories. I'd love to have an Irish mom... well, maybe just borrow one for a day. My Spanish mom seems to be a handful as it is.

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  6. @R.gers I think the problem with the cheese may be that ours isn't subject to pasturization and the sausages, I don't know. One thing I do know is illegal is failing to declare these items at customs. For some reason mum didn't think what she brought out of Ireland was anyone's business but her own.

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  7. I know Angry, guilt is their greatest weapon. But they do love their children with a fierce devotion and always want whats best for

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  8. Thank you so much Yeamie (Matthew). When I want to remember my mum, all I have to do is look in the mirror as I'm the spitting image of her. My dad grieved himself to death after her passing. He resisted all attempts at help and was gone almost 2 years to the day of her death. Bridey will come through in the end. She has friends a plenty who are widows and I suspect that it is with them that she shares her feelings. Best of luck to your family with helping your Uncle when it's his time to grieve.

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  9. I suspect that's what Bridey is doing Michelle. Keeping a brave face for the rest of us. I'll give her a month and then I'll go visit her and make sure she really is doing okay. Eventually she'll talk. And my cold, this stinking thing is lingering on. Toki slept right by my head these past two days. I'll be on Twitter later today dear friend xxx

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  10. A day would be enough B. It seems to me that Italian mums, Jewish mums, Latin mums and African American mums are a good bit alike. They're strong, opinionated and live for their families. They also know exactly which buttons to push and when. They know this because it was them that installed the buttons themselves. I'll see you boys on Twitter later today.

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  11. Oh that's an awesome one to have had. I string down the same kind of memories when it comes to my dad. Especially a lot of negative ones which are suddenly much funnier than they used to be.

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  12. Thanks D4. I didn't find much of this funny when I was a kid but in retrospect it makes me laugh. Also I've raised my own children. Considering the amount of sleep deprivation a parent endures it's amazing that the species has actually survived. There's a reason for all those ads that say "Never shake a baby"

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  13. Thank you Poetry. I have a Kindle aleady. I'll check out the new one the week before Black Friday on Amazon. I do ALL of my christmas shopping with them. If a retailer wants my money, they'll have to outcompete Amazon. So far none of them seem to want my money badly enough to compete for it. So they can all bugger off. Merry Christmas everyone.

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  14. Wish my mum smuggled me whiskey once and awhile.

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  15. Sending the Police around when you don't call home must be an Irish thing. My mother (from Waterford) did it on a number of occasions to both my sister and myself.

    I think the police in Ireland are probably a lot more understanding than their English counter parts, who get very narky when they feel that someone is wasting their time.

    Still calling the police on us is still heaps better than her other attention grabbing devices. Throwing a brick at me – she never forgave me for ducking as it sailed over my head and through her landing window and not forgetting the time she threatened to drive the car into the garage – not an unreasonable thing to do..... but revving the engine for 5 minutes before and then not opening the door had predictably disastrous results.

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  16. She smuggled the whiskey to her sister in the States, my Auntie Bridey. She'd never let me have any of her whiskey.

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  17. Christ, BlackLog you're killing me I'm laughing so hard. I love it. I can just picture this, you ducking and the brick sailing overhead and her cussin' a blue streak at you the whole while. My mum put the car out into a field once for similar reasons, except it was my dad she was pissed at. Now why she put all five of us into the back seat before she took the thing flying I'll never know.

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  18. Now if any of my relatives arrived here without sausages, rashers, black pudding, whiskey, and at least 4 cartons of SIlk Cut, we'd have some serious problems. The customs officials must just turn a blind eye to it....

    Your mum sounds fabulous!

    xoxo

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  19. Thank you Sub. She was a spectacular woman.

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  20. It's great to see you Mich. Irish mums would make the best cocaine mules in the world. I think custom officials have learned that it's just easier to wave them through rather than argue with them. Write some more posts dear. I miss reading you. xxx

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  21. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me.

    Thanks!

    Joel Houston
    JHouston791@gmail.com

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  22. Hello Joel. I don't communicat with anyone from the Internet via e-mail for reasons of personal privacy and security. If you have something you would like to say that you wish to remain private comments on posts that are older than 4 days are set for moderation only. And as for adding a link to someones website, I only do that for bloggers that I share a comraderie with.

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