Thursday, 14 January 2021

Today would have been my Mum's 91st Birthday. Sadly she passed away six years ago after fighting a very bad stroke which left her virtually unable to communicate or use her right arm for 29 years. She spent this time determinedly learning to speak, read and write again which was a huge achievement as she was only given a 5% chance of surviving the stroke. 

On my regular visits to see Dad we have been going through old photo albums and it has brought back to me how lucky we are to live in the times we do, even though things appear grim (in more ways than one) at the moment. 

Mum had a really tough life and her Mother (Nanny) even more so. She was born into a long standing farming family and was one of five.  She was the only girl and the only one to survive into adulthood. Her three younger brothers all died of various childhood illnesses (meningitis being the main cause I believe) and her older brother died when he was sixteen in a combine harvester accident which Mum had the horror of witnessing. Mum never really spoke much about the deaths of her brothers and I had always thought that the younger ones were sickly and had died at birth. I got quite a shock when I saw photos of them in the album as three of them looked really happy and healthy. I assume one died as a baby.  It brought it all home how tragic their deaths were, particularly for a farming family to lose all their sons. I do remember staying at the farm and finding five locks of children's hair which Nanny had obviously kept. 

The story doesn't get any happier I'm afraid - Six months after the eldest boy died Mum's Dad died of a heart attack at the young age of 53  - Some said he died of a broken heart, and then her uncle (her Dad's brother) who was helping on the farm shot himself and Mum found him. He had taken himself away to the bottom of the field and she was sent to find him as it was tea time.  Nanny eventually married again to the next door bachelor farmer but never got over the death of her family. She was also less than impressed when Mum decide to marry an Irish Baptist minister rather than all the available young farmers in the area and refused to give Dad permission to marry Mum.  They married eventually and she softened up a bit towards him but was understandably never really happy about it. Sadly she never lived long enough to know about my passion for farming. 

Mum was always very stoic about everything and never ever complained even after her dreadful stroke. She always had a smile on her face and whenever I think things are bad I think about her and what she went through.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for her. 

Mum's brothers

Mum with her older brother

Mum with her Dad