Every cloud has a silver lining – oh yes it does


Last week, dear readers, I nearly killed my Mum.

Don’t worry – I haven’t started some peculiar matricide pursuit; it was an accident – but unforgivable never the less.

I took my family to Rome for a break & the temperature last Wednesday in the square in front of St Peter’s Basilica was a scorchio 44 degrees C.  Poor Mum collapsed with heat stroke inside St Peter’s & I eventually had to send for the doctor.  All’s well that ends well & she’s fine since returning to Donegal where our Irish summer temperatures are a good 30 degrees lower.  It didn’t half give me a scare & the stuff that went through my head in that hour & a half I’ve pushed away somewhere so I won’t have to think about it again.

The outcome was that Mum couldn’t go back out in that heat for the next few days – so my sister & I (that’s all of us in the photo) took it in turns to stay in our apartment with her.  No internet, no books apart from Rome guides in English, no English speaking programmes on the tv – how on earth would we pass the time?  Guess what – we resorted to conversation & I have to tell you it really wasn’t that bad.

I spent hours lying on the sofa listening to Mum telling me stories about things that happened in her lifetime & stuff she’d heard about when she was a child.  Some of it I’d heard before but a lot of it was brand new.  I heard about:

·         the Donegal friend of my grandmother who’d gone to see someone off to America and got on the boat herself, taking her mother’s elastic sided boots that she’d borrowed with her – my grandmother had to go back & break the news to the girl’s mother (I remember the same woman returning to Donegal for the first time in all those years when she was an old person when I was a child)

·         the day the soot fell down the chimney covering my sister who was in her cot beside the fire – moments before my grandmother was due to arrive to visit us in Yorkshire

·         all the jobs my father did as a teenager between leaving school & moving to England

·         the details of my parents wedding which had a guest list of 6 people plus the priest – my Mum is the only one of that group still alive

·         an escaped prisoner that my grandmother had given sanctuary to whilst my grandfather was in hospital in the early 1960s

·         stories from Mum’s working life as a clippie on the buses of South Yorkshire Transport between Doncaster & Barnsley in the 1950s

and loads of other interesting stuff.  We covered a lot of ground & it was thoroughly enjoyable.  So it’s true – every cloud has a silver lining & being offline for a few days really isn’t that bad.  Tell me some of your silver lining stories please.

Where would we be without our mums?


And here’s mine – pictured last August with my sister’s two kids on the train from Greenock to Glasgow.  It was her birthday & we’d been to Port Glasgow in the pouring rain to try & find the street she was born in…needless to say it’s long gone, flattened by the savage bombings that part of Scotland got in WWII.

My mum tells a fabulous story about the breakout of the war.  Her own grandmother & her great aunt were visiting Scotland when the war broke out.  Someone had to be responsible for escorting them back to Donegal by ferry and then train.  They lived on top of a remote mountain, weren’t used to travel & neither of them could read.  There wasn’t anyone else to send so my mum was given the job.  She was 10 years old at the time.

She managed well although the train stopped at every hole in the hedge and at each one, the great aunt asked “Are we there yet?”  She says she was quite relieved when her uncle joined the train in Omagh & took over responsibility for the rest of the trip and getting the elderly pair delivered safely home.  Can anyone today imagine putting a 10 year old in charge of something like that!

That story sums my mum up.  She’s fiercely independent & incredibly resilient.  She’s always avoided allowing her life to slip into comfortable grooves and she claims “there’s no such word as can’t”.  And I guess some of that’s rubbed off because as we all know, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – and for that I thank my lucky stars every day.  Thanks Mum J