Lady Mary…..So often, when I mentioned my Nana, she was described as a Lady. And a lady she was.
For my Nana, and Grandad too, family and home were the heart of everything. They married in 1951 and built a wonderful life together. Nana loved her home, everything in and around it was her pride and joy. She loved routine and ran her home like clockwork. Grandads elevenses would be on the table before he’d arrived back in the yard from a morning on the farm. All who lived inside her home and stepped inside to visit were given the greatest attention. She enjoyed gardening immensely and flowers flourished at her touch.
She had a great love for animals, she always had a little dog who’d sit in Grandads chair when he was out. It wasn’t unusual to find her bottle-feeding a lamb in front of the stove while a couple more were curled up on a blanket. She’d nurture them, get them ready for the great outdoors.
My Nana was a wonderful cook and baker, baking the most delicious tarts & sponge cakes. For years she kept her own hens and ducks. No matter how often she baked a sponge cake with duck eggs, she was always in awe of the colour. If she knew she was having visitors, an abundance of freshly baked treats would adorn the table in anticipation. The kettle would be simmering away on the Rayburn cooker and she would be pottering away, always something to do in Nana’s kitchen. In her dining room was a sideboard filled with every mineral going. The biccies and the TK Lemonade. She used to buy Goldgrain biscuits and tell us we could eat as many of those as we liked, they’re good for you she’d say, sure they have grains in them. She was a woman of her generation, she fed people, no one would come out of her kitchen hungry! The next time you’re in the supermarket and you see Goldgrain biscuits, stock up, Mary said they’re good for you!
Nothing was ever wasted in Nana’s home, she was recycling years before the rest of us even knew what it was. She was great at sewing and the hum of the singer sewing machine was often heard from the dining room where she would be creating something else. Every little piece of material was turned into something. Her daughters reckon they didn’t dare complain about the colour of the curtains back then, they could have been wearing them the following week!
A woman with great instinct and intuition, Nana always sensed when something was wrong, if something was troubling you. She’d keep at you until you told her aswell! She was a willing listener and would help or advise as best she could. Throughout those fraught teenage years, I had the most fantastic ally in my Nana, anything troubling me I knew I could wander into her kitchen and comfort was there.
There are many words we could use to describe Nana, and glamorous is right there near the top of the list. She took such great pride in her appearance, she always looked fabulous. Nana was always dressed smart and as so many people commented in the last couple of days, she always wore her infamous red lippy. Years ago, she loved going to the Hunt Balls, & would light up as she regaled tales from them. And, with Grandad on her arm, they were a wonderfully glamorous couple, they’d have been right at home on the Hollywood red carpet. Even up to her final weeks she had my Aunties paint her nails and check her hair was okay.
For my own sister and brothers, we have a huge amount to grateful to our Nana for. At a time when our own family was on its knees, Nana rolled her sleeves up and looked after us. She was devastated when her daughter in law, our mother Anne, died, it changed her. She had been a woman who rarely showed emotion, just got on with things and now she hugged us like she’d never let go, nurtured as best she could and cried openly for all that we’d lost. Without her, I’m pretty sure we’d be more dysfunctional than we are!!
Last June, Nana moved into Knockeen Nursing home, here in Wexford, reluctantly at first, it has to be said. It wasn’t long however before she settled in and she made it a home away from home. We have to give so much thanks and credit to the staff there. They treated her with such kindness, ensuring her pride and dignity always remained intact at all times. She was determined to get home for Christmas day and she did. Nana was thrilled when one of her grandsons and one of her great-grandsons arrived with their school at Christmas to sing for the residents. Another excuse to put on her lippy and have her picture taken with them, she was proud as punch.
In January, her health deteriorated and despite all our hopes, Nana just wasn’t able to perk up again. Her mind willing, her heart unable. And so with her eldest daughter Helen by her side, she took her last breath on Saturday 22nd February. We like to think Grandad called her home and home with him is where she is now. Together again as they always were.