Mother’s Day Memories - Tough Times Shape People

by Ward Gahan
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Mother’s Day Memories - Tough Times Shape People

Mother's Day Tray

When I think back to Mother’s Day when I was a kid in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, the first thing I recall is bringing my Mum, Biddy, breakfast in bed on a tray. The tray also had a small vase with daffodils that I had picked special for her. It may not have been a grand gesture, but she appreciated it and took it all in with a smile on her face.

As I reminisce, thinking about my Mother, I realize that she faced tough times like we are all facing now. I’m channeling some of the wisdom and wit that she might have shared. So today’s post is honoring all of those Mother’s facing tough times, trying to manage the multiple demands that you handle every day. As my Mum was an inspiration to me, so too are you an inspiration to others.

The “Bid” knew a thing or two about tough times shaping tough people. She was born in 1915 at the end of the first world war, one of 11 kids growing up on a small farm in Tipperary. (Here’s a tip of my Irish cap to my Grandmother as well!) Biddy would mention having very little as a child. She would talk about these tough times, telling me stories, as we Irish do. They would grow vegetables and do lots of cooking at home. I would imagine it was a challenge to get out when you have 11 kids. But on the plus side, they almost had their own hurling team! 

So how did she get through those tough times? She always shared her wisdom with us so I thought I’d share it with all of you as well:

  • Prayer was good for most challenges. She had a strong faith and we’d be on our knees in the kitchen saying the rosary when things got bad.
  • Ask God and he will answer your prayers.
  • If you lost something, pray to St. Anthony. (Tony, Tony, turn around, something’s lost and can’t be found.) Inevitably, it turns up!
  • If you feel desperate, pray to St. Jude, the patron saint of “lost causes.”
  • You can’t beat breedin’” which had a similar meaning to the old saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
  • “It takes more than one swallow to make a summer” was Biddy’s way of saying be sure of something before you believe it.

If you are over 70 in Ireland right now, you have to “cocoon.” Biddy would hate that because she didn’t like being confined. She was a very social bird. Biddy might even drop in on someone’s house at 10PM. She loved to visit relatives at all hours. Biddy lived to chat and talk about current events or share stories about ....ok, we’ll call it what it was, a bit of gossip!! And although she, like 90% of her generation, might have grown up poor she always appreciated the finer things in life. Biddy would spend on the best hotels, restaurants, and clothes. Maybe that is also the reason why she couldn’t resist another set of silver knives and forks that she saw in almost every estate sale? (If you haven’t read my posts before, we grew up with a few extra sets of silver knives and forks that Biddy picked up along the way!) She knew the value of the finer things. You might spend a little more on some things, but between the quality goods and the memories, you end up with some things that are priceless. Maybe that’s why we carry heirloom quality goods and gifts at Biddy Murphy? It’s hard to forget the memories that come with a Claddagh ring that was given to you by your grandmother or a luxurious, Irish wool blanket that has been passed down through generations.

One last story before I go. Biddy loved her car, but when she got to be about 85, she didn’t drive it on the road any longer. It would sit in her garage. On occasion, she’d slowly back it out of the garage. Carefully, making sure that she didn’t scratch or accidentally dent anything. She’d sit in her precious car, enjoying the time, looking up at the sky while letting the sun rays shine down on her. Biddy called it her sunroom. You do what you have to do in Ireland for warmth and sunshine!

So as we head into a Mother’s Day, sheltering in place, I hope you think about Biddy. You do what you have to do to make it through tough times. You make the best of what you’ve been dealt. You turn to someone you trust when you need help. Perhaps you can’t go visiting late at night, but you can certainly call a friend or a family member and share a story or two. You splurge on the finer things and make your own sunshine. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Cheers to all of the tough mothers out there!



by Ward Gahan


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