by Pam Dillon
Nana was buried in a cookie jar. It’s a long story and hard to believe, but true. My mother-in-law travelled the world in her lifetime. This time?
A tiny lady with glowing skin and a quick smile, she was always game for our family escapades and celebrations – however quirky. Lego got dumped on her living room carpet, the pots and pans came out for playtime and Santa drove by on a fire truck one Christmas Eve shouting “Ho Ho Ho” as she and wee boys stood in her doorway entranced, waving. She was joyful, Nana, and dear to us.
My own mother I cherished. Years ago, I bought fabric and thread and spent days putting together a book, With Love, to let her know that. She knew anyway. Somewhere here in the life history of things kept, there is a story cut out of a newspaper. It has a picture of my brother and me kissing mom on the day she was honoured as MS Mother of the Year. After she died – a happy death, soft, shimmery and full of life – people told me, people I knew not so well, how much they loved her. How much she meant to them.
It took me years to realize, after her death, that we weren’t the Brady Bunch with a lot fewer kids. That mothers don’t belong on pedestals.
What I love best is the passion she had, the wild Irish life force, the unshakeable, unwavering faith. She prayed with fervency and laughed to shaking at sacrilegious jokes. Able to see the humour and the good.
My mother, her sisters and the many women who mothered me had a language that was rich, outrageous and coloured with affection.
It warmed and nurtured.
My cousins, my brother and I were raised with tis, twasn’t, fairies and the divil himself. Threats of violence were signs of affection and were a source of comfort.
Potatoes and um. Translation: Not quite sure what I’m making for dinner.
For ‘ninst ya. Translation: Beside you.
I’ll give you a dollar on pay day if… Translation: Would you please do something for me?
Go play in the traffic. Translation: Time to find something else to do, sweetheart.
I’m going to kill him. Translation: I love him, but Jesus Mary Mother of God that (kid/husband/dog/cat/sibling…) is driving me out of my one simple mind – don’t you know?
The divil never did darken our door, but I grew up to be a passionate lover of hyperbole.
So in honour of my mother and Nana, I will scream bloody murder if tisn’t a grand time today for kindness, tolerance and good humour. Join me, won’t you?
And sure as we’re Irish (real or imagined), we’ll smother all comers with kisses.
People live in one another’s shelter. Irish proverb