Thursday, July 27, 2006

Walk Ninety-four – Free at last


Yesterday, my uncle as executor, reluctantly permitted us three children to view the contents of my mother’s house, under his supervision, to point out the few sentimental but valueless items we would like to have. In the house there was a picture frame that had always contained a photo of me at the age of eighteen. My mother had replaced it with one of herself – in fact there were many pictures of her around the house but none of me. I found a notebook where she specified that she did not want her body laid out at a funeral home, nor did she want a religious funeral service – just her ashes scattered on the river Barrow. So all that effort to arrange precisely what she didn’t want. Maybe that’s what hell is — watching as your relatives well-meaningly completely fail to carry out your wishes.

Today we had a very long day sometimes emotional, sometimes funny. We drove from Limerick to Dublin to collect Mummy’s ashes. We then drove down to her childhood home stopping at Carlow to have lunch. All three of us ate boiled bacon, cabbage and potatoes (my mother’s favourite meal). We arrived in Borris, met up with the others and reminisced about childhood holidays. Patrick bought Rachel a Fry’s Peppermint Cream chocolate bar, reminding us of the time, in Borris, at the ages of eight and six, that Rachel had pretended to finish her chocolate and had then tortured him by lingering over every mouthful after he had finished his. We set off for the river, which was just as beautiful and unspoiled as I remembered it.
After wandering up and down the banks and across the lock we eventually chose a spot.

Rachel read one of Mummy’s favourite WB Yeats’ poems and I read a poem called ‘Be Calmed’ a friend had written and sent to me. Patrick poured the ashes into the river, we threw in red and white roses and we played a recording of Isa Lei, the Fijian farewell song. After a little weep we took some photographs to remind us of the spot (which we are unlikely to ever visit again) and I did this illustration. We then walked up the hill to see if we could find the fresh-water spring where we used to collect drinking water, before my Granny had water piped to the house. We bumped into a couple of local women and in chatting to them, probably gave them enough gossip to make them the centre of village life for the next five years.

We then set off on the long drive back to Limerick. Patrick, having checked that Rachel had finished her chocolate bar, brought out another bar and tortured her by lingering over every mouthful…


Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Oh Julie, you made my eyes fill up! You write so strongly of such an experience. Don't worry about your mother's house, her framed photographs. You are what matter now. Sounds like you performed the task of farewell perfectly, whatever her wishes had been. Your link with Ireland will be memorable even if painful. The Yeats poem I hadn't read. I like the one 'Stop the clocks' but that is for another kind of parting. I've so pleased that Isa Lei arrived in time.

12:00 am  
Blogger Alison said...

Lovely description of the day, with a great twist at the end, bringing back memeries for me - we did the same torture routine and my granny put a photo of another grandchild over an embroidery in a frame I did for her and I used to love those chocolate bars - not available here.

1:17 am  
Blogger Felicity said...

Those little actions reveal (and hurt)so much don't they? When I brought my Mum some chocolates in hospital she said she'd give them to the nurses. (Mum has a very sweet tooth.)I feel sorry for her, but her actions are hers. It reminds me of the quote ' what you think of me is none of my business'. I'm glad you are now back with your family :)

9:42 am  

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