I never knew my mum’s mum. Sadly, she died on the 30th April 1958 at the age of just 49, when my mum was a young girl. And even though I wasn’t there, I feel (and will perhaps always feel) a keen sense of pain at my mum’s loss. It’s a subject I’ve touched on before (in this post ) but each year as I get older and Mother’s Day comes round again, I think more and more about the women, the ‘mothers’, who are part of my history.
So who was my mum’s mum ? Well, her name was Elizabeth, the daughter of a carter* and she was born in Belfast in 1909, the youngest of five children. As it would turn out, she would be the only daughter to survive, her older sister having died in an accident. She married my grandfather Albert at the age of eighteen and they went on to have six children. In recent months, I’ve found out that during the war she ran off to the north of England and ended up working in a munitions factory. The oldest daughters were sent over to ‘encourage’ her to come back home and that’s what she did. I need to dig a little deeper into why this happened but I imagine that life was pretty tough back then. Money was scarce for poor working class families and I’m not sure how much my grandfather was around.
In any case, my mum speaks of her with real love and affection, of how they went shopping one Christmas for a new coat or of when they had to get the bus up to Ballymoney where my mum would spend long weeks in hospital as a child suffering from psoriasis. And although their relationship was short lived, and perhaps because of it, it did imbue in my mum a strong sense of independence from an early age, a desire to carve out her own path and to stand on her own two feet and she, in turn, has passed that on to me. And for that, I am very thankful.
And so, for my mum Kathleen, my grandmother Elizabeth and for all the mums out there, Happy Mother’s Day. It looks like it is going to be a beautiful spring day x
*According to Wikipedia, a ‘carter’ was the occupational name given to one who transports goods by cart or wagon, originally believed to be of Gaelic and Celtic origin.