Tag Archives: Memories

More phone calls and messages

Al’s comment yesterday: Just be thankful it wasn’t Willard McBane, set me on a trail of reminiscence to interesting calls…..

I once found a message on my phone from a withheld number asking me to collect the children from school!

No names of the children or name of the school was mentioned, so there was nothing I could do. I hope they are not still waiting.

*<*>*

On a bright summer evening, I answered a call to my cell phone. The gentleman caller told me that my taxi was waiting outside. I was looking out the picture window of my living room as I answered the call. There were no cars about. Not on the road or in my driveway!

The voice and accent, told me the caller came from the North East of England. I was in one of those moods…. Ready for some fun.

“I don’t see you outside?” I said.

“I am in the car park round the back, where taxis usually park” He replied.

“There is no car park outside this window or around the back. Where exactly are you?

“The Croxdale Inn, Front Street, Croxdale!

“Is that in County Durham?”

“Yes!” He was getting a little frustrated now.

“Well, I am sorry to say that I am nowhere near Croxdale, County Durham. I live in and am speaking from County Antrim, Northern Ireland.”

The line went dead!

*<*>*

One day back in my childhood while I was helping mammy in the kitchen, she went to answer the phone. This took place back in the days before we had computers or indeed a television! We children needed to provide our own entertainment, especially on a wet day.

The call was short, but mammy came back to the kitchen laughing heartily. A young lad, no doubt messing about on his parents phone by randomly dialling numbers.

He asked: “Do you smoke after sex?”

Quick as a flash, mammy answered : “I haven’t looked lately!” and immediately replaced the telephone receiver!

*<*>*

I have visited this subject before in Did I hear the Phone? You might find a giggle or two there.

Twinkling Eyes

As I was listening to the weather warnings a couple of weeks ago, and looking for distraction from thoughts of hibernating, I found the quote below. It was not my father who came to mind but my late husband Jack.

I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself. A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I’ve also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It’s sure to be a phony.  ~ Roald Dahl 

Jack’s eyes twinkled from the moment he woke in the morning, until his head hit the pillow at night. It was impossible to be cross or sad when he was around. It did not matter what I did, be it break a favourite  possession or lose the dining table under a mountain of sewing/craft work, he was patient. If the meal I  made was a disaster, he never complained. His constant mantra at times like these was always accompanied by a twinkling eye smile:

“It is not as bad as a bad marriage!” 

Today would have been his birthday, and as always, I will raise a glass in memory of those twinkling eyes that captured and warmed my heart.

Eggs

Every now and then it’s good to pause
in your pursuit of happiness, 
look around,
and simply be happy for what you already have in your life.

What am I happy for right now?

Memories.

A friend of mine, over the sea and far away, posted an item on the book of face. She had a glut of fresh free range eggs and offered them to any of her friends. I was sitting down at the laptop for a rest when I saw her offer. I had come in from the garden after an hour of bentoverdoubleweeding, in my efforts to clear the wilderness that surrounds me. Hunger was tapping at my door and thoughts were turning to what I would have for my tea.

Boiled eggs.

I could see them with the tops lifted off, the whites nicely set and the yolks a deep rich runny orangey yellow about to spill out and down the side of the eggcups. Slim crisp soldiers in formation around the plate ready to be dunked Now nobody mention that udder stuff or you will spoil my meal and the illusion. Butter never melts in my mouth. Ugh! The very thought of it sends shivers down my spine.

So I pick up the phone and surprise my friend by asking if she will send me a half dozen eggs.

I could hear her and almost see her falling about her house with the laughter while wondering how she could send a half dozen fresh speckled hen eggs all the way over the sea in time for my tea!

She did actually ask that question when the laughter allowed her.

So I told her a story – a true story:

Auntie Nancy, a sister of my father, would be 104 if she was around today. She spent many years as a widow in the wilds of Co Clare. She reared hens & geese.

On regular occasions a sturdy brown postage box with the word Eggs printed on it in very large font, arrived with our post/mail. It was a made for the purpose box sold at the rural Post Office. Inside were two egg trays, and enough space for two dozen eggs. Nancy addressed the box to mammy, affixed the stamps and handed the parcel, tied with string, to the Post office attendant. Two days later our local postman delivered it to us. All eggs were intact, each one wrapped in newspaper to fill the space and protect them from moving about. Once the box was empty, mammy wrapped it in brown paper, addressed the parcel to my aunt and posted the box back. Those eggs were wonderful and way fresher than any you would buy in the shops today!

When Nancy came to Dublin it was usually for the day and involved a trip to Clerys Department Store. There she bought a complete new outfit – from the skin out. The parcels were taken to the “Ladies” where she changed into the finery, put the old clothes in the bin, before heading out to catch a bus to our house.

She always carried a leather shopping bag on these visits. It contained at least two or three-dozen eggs complete with half the hen run on them! These had been collected just before she set out on the journey. In the bag, or should I say half in the bag were two chickens. The head and necks hung out over each side while the bodies & legs complete with claws rested in the bag. Their necks had been wrung in the morning and there would be a trail of blood dripping all the way from Ennis to our house! These hens came complete with feathers and innards. Nancy’s arrival on the avenue was announced by her laughter, which was loud and infectious.

One year when we were young, mammy was ill and in hospital. Auntie Nancy was looking after us. She cooked, fed us and generally looked after us. Brother No 4 who was aged three and the baby of the family at that time, pined for mammy and refused to eat. He refused to come to the table at meal times so Nancy sat on the stairs and fed him chocolate biscuits. They were the only food he would eat for her. Her idea was that he was at least eating something.

Nancy’s daughter Mary married in Worcester, England when I was 15. Dan my father, gave her away and I was bridesmaid. We flew to Birmingham with Nancy for the wedding. It was Nancy’s first time to fly. Being the month of February the weather was rough. We hit a few air pockets and each time Nancy shouted out “Christ, we’re sinking!” and opened a small bottle and shook ‘holy water’ on herself and everyone round about us. Daddy of course was several rows away and pretending not to know us. She shouted out to him “Dan we’re sinking! Do you want some holy water? Here come and get it!

We loved to see Auntie Nancy, she was full of fun and laughter. When daddy was taking her to the train in the evenings, we all asked to go with him, wanting to extend the days of fun a little longer.

Trip to Paris

Reading The Incident on the Champs-Élysées at Nelly’s Garden It brought back a memory for me.

Over forty years ago I was invited to join a group who were going to Paris for a five day weekend. The dates worked for me and I had a valid passport. So I said “Yes, I would love to go along”!

My name was added to the list and accommodation booked, so all I had to do was decide what to wear, pack a bag and turn up at Dublin Airport at the appointed hour.

My knowledge of Paris, at that time, came from the movies or books. I knew little more about the small group of girls I was to spend the few day with, all booked into same hotel. In fact The only person I knew on the whole trip was the friend who invited me. We were part of a much larger group, scattered about in different hotels. By the end of the five days I knew at least twenty five by first name and we had plenty of fun & laughter as well as great food, vino and much shorter legs!

Our hotel was central, good for walking from place to place, quite small with lots of stairs. Thankfully we were booked on a Bed & Breakfast tariff, so once we came down those stairs, we returned no more that once in the day and that was usually to freshen up and change before dinner.

We covered most of the popular tourist attractions:

Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, and Place de la Concorde, where the guillotine took the life of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and where today Tour de France runs its grand finale.

Notre Dame Cathedral where, because of the great number of tourists, I did not feel the spiritual magic of the cathedral, but enjoyed the quirky, funny, scary, and spiritual details of the artwork and the architecture. All those Gargoyles and flying buttresses were something else!

We visited the Louvre Museum not quite covering over 35,000 pieces of artwork, we had only allowed three hours for our visit. We waved to the armless beauty of the “Venus de Milo,” and “Winged Victory,” before joining a long queue to see the Louvre’s most famous work – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. This small, iconic painting, only 21 by 30 inches (53 by 77 cms) was covered with bullet-proof glass and flanked by guards; with not a hope of getting anyway near it – the result of it being stolen in 1911. (It was recovered in 1913.) Is it any wonder her smile is a little faded! 😉

We drooled our way along Place Vendôme – where owning a store is a haughty statement and every shop window is worth over €1 million. You may remember Place Vendôme the 1998 movie starring Catherine Deneuve. We however, moved on and found time and shops with prices more suitable to our fast emptying purses.

We allowed more time for The Château de Versailles, which 30 years ago was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. I have visited again (when Elly lived in France) and my memories of Versailles are from that time.

We explored back-streets where ordinary tourists don’t generally venture. We felt the real Paris as we passed elegantly dressed young mothers escorting their dancing or skipping young children to or from school or kindergarten.

We found time to eat, drink and pause to soak up the atmosphere and one evening we went to the movies. Last tango in Paris, had been banned or cut to ribbons by the censors in Dublin, so we wanted to take the opportunity of seeing the film in Paris. We found a cinema with the film in English so booked for a late showing.

We returned along the Champs-Elysées late that night chatting animatedly about the movie, on the way to our accommodation. The street was busy with people walking in both directions, when a man bumped heavily into me. He almost knocked me over. He mumbled and staggered past, and as I looked over my shoulder I saw him lurching through the crowd behind me. We walked on, I had no handbag/purse to think about. My money was in my gloved hand, a trick I learned from my mother. It was only when we got back to our hotel, that I discovered I had blood all down my new, first time airing – dry clean only -trouser suit. We were going home the next day so the stains had to wait until I reached Dublin, to be sorted.

We never discovered the ‘what or why’ of the incident, from the amount of blood, I assume the guy had been stabbed.

Eileen, Mother & Nana

It was a Monday morning, just six days before Easter Sunday, that Eileen arrived. The path was prepared and pattern set by her almost four year old brother and sister aged two. By the time she was twelve, the family had reached the full compliment of seven children and her mother and father. They lived over the corner shop, owned and run by her mother. Her father was a Cooper at a local brewery.

Eileen’s father was a quiet serious man not known for a sense of humour, yet Eileen was the only one to get away with devilment. As a young girl she was diagnosed with an acute appendicitis and her father walked with her from the South Circular Road, in Dublin, to the Meath Hospital, for admission and surgery. Once over that hurdle, she never looked back.

She had the quick wit of her mother and a head for figures, a gift her mother put to good use in the shop. Back in those days customers often paid for the groceries at the end of each week, so records were hand written into a large book. Eileen quickly mastered the cross and long tots, which eased the load for her mother. At sixteen she left school and went to work at Cassidy’s Ladies Fashions in George’s Street in Dublin. She never complained, but she knew she was going to work so that her brothers could be educated.

1931. Eileen Moloney

1931. Eileen Moloney

Photo of Eileen at 17

She had a good eye for fashion and particularly hats so was moved to the Millinery department which she loved. In those days, unlike today, ladies hats came in different sizes. The were stored in large deep drawers or glass cabinets.

Cassidy's Millenry Dept

Cassidy’s Millenry Dept

Eileen at work in Cassidy’s.

She was light on her feet and loved to dance and was never short of a partner. Lilly, one of her aunts, was a wonderful seamstress and took great pleasure in creating dance dresses for Eileen. She often told of a green fabric she saw in Denis Guiney’s window, on her way to the Custom House, On the way back she went to purchase enough for a floor length dress. The grumpy salesman told her that since it was in the window she would have to come back the next week when the displays were changed, he could not remove it before that.

1940 That Dress again 1

Another dance dress.

Years later he said he remembered that day and thought the colour would look well on her! That grump became her husband and my father!

 Eileen & Dan's Wedding Day

Eileen Moloney & Dan Molony

Mammy & Daddy on her wedding day.

With time they had a family, but it was not all an easy journey. Of her nine pregnancies, her first and penultimate babies were still born and the third survived for five hours. The remaining six are still going our various ways, having nurtured our own families and for some there is another new generation following on.

1955-08-07 Ello's Christening

Nana & Dan with their six children in 1955

Two years after the birth of my sister, the baby in the photo above, mammy had a serious heart attack. To her horror she was not allowed to eat butter, fat or cream, she was to cut out using the stairs e.g. come down in the morning and not go back up until bedtime! The loo was upstairs, What was she supposed to do…. Tie her legs in a knot? 😡 She was not to stand if she could sit and not to sit is she could lie down! How those ideas have changed! It is just as well, since mammy had little chance of sticking to them.

One year later Daddy was ill and in and out of hospital for a year. Mammy’s health issues were put on the back burner while looking after him. They both kept going, with health lifting and dropping like a temperature gauge.

Despite all the hurdles, mammy never lost her sense of fun, She became a great cook, a wonderful mother and great friend.

So to day on her Hundredth birthday, may we all drink a toast to her memory (tea would be appropriate, it was her favourite tipple), share the happy memories and listen carefully for her laughter!

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Eileen Molony nee Moloney 1914 – 1996

On Repeat.

In recent years I have the joy of sharing with new readers and some of you may not know the tales from the early days, therefore, I reproduce an old Post first published in November, 2007. Well, if the TV and radio stations can repeat a programme, why then not rehash an earlier post?

♥♥♥♥♥

The Wardrobe

I suppose you think a wardrobe is for storing clothes?

One wet and windy winter’s afternoon the door burst open and a tornado landed in the middle of the living-room floor.

Before I had time to lift my eyes from my needlework a little voice demanded “What is my dad doing on the floor in the wardrobe?”

There was a loud rustling sound as Jack lowered the newspaper sufficiently to peer out over the top. With his glasses resting half way down his nose and not a sound or trace of a smile, he looked from the voice to me, wondering exactly what was going on.

“Your Daddy is here reading the paper so he can’t be in the wardrobe?” I said.

“He is! He’s on the floor in at the back of the wardrobe. Come and I will show you!”

There was nothing for it but to set my needlework down because when this young lady got something into her head the devil himself couldn’t shake her off course.

She took my hand and dragged me out of the room. The newspaper was lifted once more and I heard Jack quietly whistling behind it. Off I went to find out how a man got into my wardrobe.

Opening the door of the built in wardrobe she pointed into the darkness of the farthest corner. “Look he is in there, on The Floor!”

I moved the clothes along the rail to have a better view. Right enough her dad was on the floor propped against the wall at the back of the wardrobe. I carefully lifted him out and touched his face as I did so.

“Don’t put him back in there” she said, “I think you should hang him up on the wall”.

I did hang him that day, and he has had pride of place there ever since!

ellys-dad.jpg

Elly’s Dad

For Libby

I imagine your days are busy with the endless round of chores that go with young motherhood besides sorting, packing and deciding what to keep or discard before your move. One tip I suggest: Do not throw out all the ‘Fridge Artwork’!

Why?

Let me explain by showing you a special piece of Art.

Original Artwork

Original Artwork

Abstract Artwork – Click to enlarge

The work is unsigned, but dated. Look carefully at the top right corner.

Libby, do you recognise the hand that wrote that date?

The date: 11/3/83 was written by your father’s hand. Thirty one years ago this month.

I supplied the very high class art paper! Not entirely true, but close. Thirty one years ago, we had no PCs in our little world, Jack received reams of printed or typed paper in the mail twice or three times a week, all in relation to his work. The old sheets were scrapped when the next bundle arrived. What a waste.

I suggested keeping the paper and allowing Elly use the pages to draw, write or scribble on. It meant she had an endless supply. One day Elly presented me with a picture that really impressed me and it gave me an idea….

On our next visit to Dublin I had a bundle of spare sheets for Elly to play with. One day, seeing all of her cousins around her, I thought it might be interesting to see what artwork they would produce. I gave each child a sheet of paper to take home and draw a picture for me. I was not leaving you out, so I gave your dad the page.

The work above is you handiwork. Very delicate for a tiny toddler! The colours show better if you click to enlarge the image.

I played with the lines and circles of your piece. First I took tracings, eliminating some and keeping others. Then began the fun of layering the lines until I was happy with the result.

Next with your colours for inspiration, I delved into my craft box. Several pieces of sequin off-cut and coloured tulle were light enough for your touch. I layered them together, worked some free machine stitching before cutting away at the layers to show the different colours and textures. The ink spots from the type on the other side gave me the idea to add beads. And the swans-down & frayed threads were for the softness of a tiny hand.

My interpretation of your art,

Elly’s picture led to the whole idea in the first place. Click on the link to read the story of where that led.

The caller

Granny Kildysart was in the kitchen one dark, wet and blustery evening when she heard the loud Ding Dong. It was the door bell ringing. Out of curiosity she went to open the door. She took one look at the caller, and my father who was coming down the stairs, heard her say “We have nothing for you tonight!” before she quickly shut the door.

My father from his vantage point on the stairs was able to have a good look at the roughly attired gentleman before the door was closed so abruptly. This tramp looked like he had not seen a bath for a year and wore a crumpled, dirty, soaking wet old trench coat. The buttons were long gone so to keep out the weather it was tied around the waist with coarse string. At the neckline was a scarf and below the coat ragged trousers were tucked into thick woollen socks with holes in them. Over the socks were well worn work-men’s boots long past their sell by date. The laces were gone and again the boots were tied with string. On his head the tramp had a greasy rain soaked flat cap. Bits of hair stuck out at each side.

My father reached the bottom of the stairs as Granny Kildysart was about to go back to the kitchen. “That was a very un-Christian thing to do on a night like this” he said to his mother. With her hand still on the door knob she turned, “What do you mean? She asked. “That man looked like he had not eaten all day” said daddy. “How would you like to be turned out on a night like this?” “I think you should call him back and make him a cup of tea!”

Since it was her son’s house and she didn’t relish the thought of a journey back to Co. Clare that night she reluctantly opened the door and called the tramp back. My father stood and watched as she invited the tramp in to warm himself by the fire and have a cup of tea.

The living room was warm and inviting with the fire blazing away in the hearth. Chairs were drawn up to the heat and Granny Kildysart turned to go to the kitchen and put the kettle on for a pot of tea. As she reached the door my father called to her, “This man looks hungry” and turning to the man he said “I am sure you could eat a plate of rashers and eggs”. The tramp nodded and twisted his cap in his hands. “You better cook a few sausages and if we have any black & white pudding do some of that as well”.

The men talked while Granny Kildysart set about preparing the food in the kitchen. They could hear her banging about the pans. Soon the house filled with the aroma of the cooking bacon. Granny appeared, to set a place at the table. Ten minutes later she was back with a tray and the tramp was invited to take his place at the table. The food was placed before him and he was told to tuck in. Tea was poured and daddy and his mother had yet another cup to keep him company.

Granny Kildysart noticed that the men were getting on well and the tramp seemed to be familiar with the names of family members. Soon the plate of food was cleared and the tramp who was feeling rather warm, undid the string of the coat. Daddy invited him to take it off, which he did. The scarf was removed as well and he brushed his hair back in place. It was only then that Granny Kildysart realised that a trick had been played on her.

The man was no tramp; he was in fact Richard, a brother of my mother’s! Richard was full of fun and always up to mischief. Granny Kildysart was not known for her sense of humour so his arriving as a tramp was a little more acceptable than the summer night he came wearing a bright yellow dress, stockings and sandals topped off with a headscarf, and bright red lipstick.
Is it any wondered I turned out the way I am now?

We like everyone else had two grandmothers. They were both known as Granny. They also had the same surname, so we needed a way to differentiate between them. Mammy’s mother lived in Dublin and we saw her couple of times a week, Daddy’s mother lived in Kildysart, Co Clare, so she became Granny Kildysart.

Richard was a great favourite in our house when we were growing up. Alas he died in 1966, aged 44 while waiting for surgery to replace two heart valves, surgery that is so matter of fact nowadays.

At that time surgery to replace valves was unheard of in Ireland. In fact the only place capable of carrying out the operation was Guy’s Hospital in London. There was only one team of Surgeons and staff qualified to carry it out, so only one patient per month was operated on. There were 11 operations in the year and during the month of August the whole team went on annual leave.

Richard was scheduled for July and was actually over in Guy’s. The June patient had a relapse so Richard’s operation was put off until September. My aunt brought him home but he went downhill fast. She managed to take him back to London for the beginning of September, but alas he died on 11th before he reached the theatre.

Originally posted in August 2007 as a Podcast that has expired and been deleted.

I thought it might be nice to revisit the subject in word form.

Dear Mary,

‘Write a letter to someone I admire’ was one of the aims on my ‘To Do’ list for 2013. It was only yesterday, when checking to see how many items I actually managed to complete, that I discovered this one almost slipped through the net. With a last flourish, I plan to right that situation now.

Dear Mary,

It was a privilege to have known you, even if it was just a few short years. Well into your 80s when our paths crossed for the first time. I well remember the day. A tiny effervescent bundle with snow white hair framing an open smiling face and eyes that sparkled like diamonds.

The stories of your young days and wartime working in the drawing office at Shorts Aircraft factory, in Belfast, were fascinating. Water Polo, your favourite sport is one I am only familiar with, from your tales. You made it sound like so much fun. The tricks you played on dancing partners, the guys you liked and those you did not.

You were always contented with your lot in life, yet never married, despite being so admired and had many suitors through the years. – Your sister Madge, confided that to me. You were so proud and generous with you time for your niece and nephew and later their children: your grandnieces and grandnephew. They all loved you dearly.

You loved to hear Jack sing, and on mornings that we were collecting you, he gave the front passenger seat an extra dusting for our treasured passenger.

Having stopped driving years earlier, you were never afraid to walk the busy road to the corner, no matter what the weather, on the off chance you might catch a bus to Belfast. If none materialised, you had no problem accepting lifts from total strangers, who often went out of their way to take you to the destination you were headed for. I have the feeling those sparkling eyes won them over! Following these adventures you always came back with amazing life stories that they shared with you along the journey.

The hours we spent together thinking, talking and working on craft ideas were so rewarding. You had so many items at hand to solve an intricate or difficult project problem, and always made it fun. I loved the set of tiny real glass buttons that you gave me. I used two of them on Elly’s wedding outfit to attach the tiny hand made bag, for her items ‘old, new, borrowed and blue’. I know you would smile at the idea of me sitting up in bed, in the hotel on the morning of the wedding, making the bag by hand – beading included! The buttons did their work well and brought you close to our hearts on the day.

Your house was a treasure trove of furniture and well loved items from your late mother and grandmother’s homes. With each visit I found a new treasure that I had not noticed before, each had a story and your eyes danced as you lovingly recalled the memories. Nowadays young people must have ‘new’ and all modern conveniences that ping, sing or are touch control. Nothing these days is made to last, no stories or history to pass on, yet on many occasions, such as in our recent power cuts, it is the old reliable items from a previous age that see us through.

I must tell you about a wonderful young girl, Catherine or Kate as we called her, that I had the great pleasure of working with, after I was widowed. Kate, met the man of her dreams and often shared her tales of her romance and the fun that she shared with Peter and his sister Lois. The names were familiar, but I did not think any more about them.

Eventually Kate & Peter became engaged and a wedding was organised. I was privileged with some fellow work mates to be invited to the evening do! Chatting over morning coffee break at work, we ‘girls’ decided we would like to go to the church and see our friend actually get married, then meet up again in the evening to join the fun.

I arrived at the church early and sat into the back row. I noticed a woman moving about in the chancel and realised, even at that distance, that I knew her. Mary, it was Mildred, your niece! It was only than that I put two and two together and realised that Peter the groom, was your grandnephew! What a small world. Lois too played her part, she was a bridesmaid.

Peter & Cate are well settled into married life and now have three young children. Mary, you would be so pleased with Peter’s choice, they are well matched, a steady couple with many shared interests.

While Elly was here a couple of weekends ago, she was driving past where you lived, The house has been totally rebuild, but as Elly said “I am glad Mary’s house was built in the style of the old one!” It looks well and you would not be displeased.

As this year draws to a close, I spent some time thinking about and reliving memories of friends, alas no longer with us, who made an impact on my life. Mary, you left a mark on my heart in the nicest possible way.

For that I thank you,

Your forever friend,

Marie.

Tomorrow, I will run through the list to see where I fell down!

Babies

Ward Miles Scot was born in July of 2012, fragile and tiny at 26 weeks, three and a half months premature. Over the following 15 months, his dad, photographer and filmmaker Benjamin Scot chronicled his son’s progression from the frailty of 101 days in incubation to full health.

This reminded me of a true story I told a few years ago on my old blog. I am unable to link to it, but I feel it is worth retelling.

Donal’s Cot

Donal weighed in at 2lbs which is just short of a Kilo. He was a very premature baby that his mother carried for less than six months. He had no hair, eyelashes, eyebrows or nails and his skin was porous. He was not expected to survive for very long so the Paediatrician suggested taking him home. His actual words were “He might as well die at home as in here!”

Donal’s homecoming was not as easy as it sounds. His father was sent to find a ‘small’ cot/crib which he did, and it was ready and waiting for the new occupant when he arrived with his ill mother and a nurse. The nurse lived with and became part of the family over the next six months, she was called ‘No-No’ by Donal’s two year-old brother, and the name stuck. To this day if you say the name ‘No-No’ to any of the family they know exactly who you mean.

The Paediatrician soon arrived and set to work.

He gave precise instructions about feeding and cleaning the baby. Donal was not to be washed or bathed in water! His skin was to be cleaned with olive oil and cotton wool.

Food was to be administered by medicine dropper, every hour on the hour!

He rigged up a large light bulb over the cot to provide extra heat for the premature baby and it was to remain on night and day. Being wintertime the temperature was quite low. A fire was lit in the bedroom and kept going day and night.

Each day was a milestone, but there were many, when they fought to keep the baby alive. The Paediatrician was a regular caller and was delighted with any little improvement.

The danger stage eventually passed and Donal was introduced to bottle feeding and began to put on a little weight. The first size baby clothes fitted and slowly the pleasure of washing and bath-time became part of the daily routine. The light was removed from over the cot, but Donal slept in it for a full year.

With Donal’s move to a normal sized baby cot the little one was cleaned, covered and stored in the loft. It was used again with pride for the arrival of each of his four younger siblings.

The little cot appeared for the first time 62 years ago. There were no incubators, or ‘Baby Units’ in hospitals like we have today, the only clothes for premature babies were dolls clothes. Houses had no central heating and washing was all done by hand. Nappies were rinsed, then boiled and when washing was complete they were line dried. The feeding bottles were sterilised by boiling. A baby was hard work back then!

The little cot moved through the family for the arrival of each new baby. Cousins, nieces and nephews all started their lives in it. I spent my early months in it as did Elly. For Donal the most precious moment was the day he placed his own daughter in the little cot. Now once again the cot is stored away and who knows, someday Donal might be blessed with a grandchild to sleep in that very special Cot.

The post above was written on October 29, 2007 – six years ago. Since then Donal has been blessed with two granddaughters the latest one born a couple of months ago, almost a world away in Sydney, Australia. The proud grandparents have just arrived home from a month singing, dancing round the room, and getting to know the latest arrival.

UPDATE: The video link above about Ward Miles Scot, a very premature baby seems to have been removed. Born at twenty six weeks, the tiny baby was almost invisible for tubes, drains, monitors and huge pads over his eyes so large they covered his face.

UPDATE 2: Barbara found a new link to the video and has added it in the comments below. Perhaps it is better there to show how different the treatment is for premature babies these days.

 

Donal had none of that. He clung on to life by a thread for so long, some said he lived for spite! BUT with tender loving care he made it through.