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Location: Tir Na Nog

Irish Poetry Writers Forum Discussion:     THOUGHTS ON MY IRISH MOTHERS


One of eleven children
My mother, Mary Magdelene, was the youngest
Flanked at birth by two tiny babes
That never made it to their first birthday

My Grammy, Marian Elizabeth Carroll, was full Irish
Her Da was Thomas Carroll and her Mam, Lizzie Devlin
A stout bespeckled white haired woman
Filled with stories and brimstone
She sat in the corner of the kitchen in her rocking chair
And ruled the roost...
Scared me happy with tales of banshees, goblins, and ghosts

My mother rarely spoke
Went quietly about her chores
But she watched as it happened
As she was left behind...

Her oldest sisters and brothers were long gone
Married and with children
It became Mom's task to bear
When Grammy finally went blind
To care for her until the end

Mom had no choice but to quit school
There was nobody else to help
She scrubbed and polished
And cooked and washed
Took care of Grammy and me
And the working Uncles living at home

They didn't have much as kids
Times were hard, very hard...
Grandpop painted the same doll buggy
A different color each Christmas
If anyone knew the truth
They never said
Just ooohed and aaaahhhed
Like it was expected

She escaped for a while
To marry my Dad
But he was a cad and a drinker
Abused her and broke her heart
So she came home with me in tow
Back to the family, back to the fold

When Grammy went blind in the 50's
Mom gave her insulin injections
And tested her sugars
She was no nurse
But she was born to serve others
And fell into it as if she were trained

It wasn't easy either
Grammy was bossy and saucey
Waffled people with her cane
If they pissed her off

We all still laugh at the memories between tears

When Grammy died in 1963
I remember sobbing as if my heart would break
To this day I still ache
She's that star up there, My Grammy
I remember my Aunt Do saying to me
Gone to heaven
Without a care
Left them all scattered here and there

It was not long after
A few years perhaps
That Mom learned how to drive
When I reached 3rd grade
She got a job in the clothing factory
And joined the work force

She never complained or cursed her lot
Her other sisters and brothers almost all
Graduated from high school
But not Mom
Smart but practical
She became the Union Rep at her factory
And fought for the rights of the women in her shop

And in between, she raised me
Cooked and kept house for her oldest brother
Transitioned from the 60's to the 70's
The 70's to the 80's
The 80's to the 90's
And finally, the 2000's

If she knew any Dead songs,
She would be singing
What a long strange trip it's been...

And at 73 and counting
She still sews, drives, and volunteers
Mom makes easy seem the years
In her life she has not travelled far
Yet she has seen so much

She is a tribute to herself, my Mother
This woman who raised me
Who praised me
Who was and is always there when I need her

But more than to me,
She is also a credit to her ancestors
Those tough, strong Irish women
Who would not, could not crack
Even as their children starved at their breast
Their men unjustly imprisoned and hung
Their Motherland painfully brought to its knees

The centuries march on, the days pass, the future lies ahead
Times are different
Ireland has grown strong...

But Irish Mothers are still made
Of the same tough mix of bog and turf,
Sea spray and moon rays,
Music and laughter,
Granite and tears

We are so priveleged to have mine living still
My two daughters and I
And may my Grandmother in Heaven
Be looking down with pride

Happy Mother's Day to My Irish Mothers

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