Ireland – I’ve been here before – Part 1

This morning I woke up in Galway, Ireland from a sad dream.  An old friend of my Mum’s was showing me the hand bag she had that was ordered by my Mum before her death and she was bragging about how she had it and asking if I received the bill yet.  I was incensed with why she thought that she should be benefiting in any way from the death of my Mum – I didn’t think they’d even been in contact for at least 15 years.  So, I took the handbag and emptied her contents on the road – all the way down Mum’s street (which was the street they both used to live on).  It was a sensless dream, so I thought, but it started my day thinking about gifts that I rightfully earned from my Mum, and in particular the memories I have of our trip to Ireland – the first time we had both been to the Emerald Isle, 21 years ago.  I knew I had to write a blog to record them as well as to recall the experience and as many of the details as I could.

Mum spent the year of 1994 working as an exchange teacher in Seattle, Washington, USA.  This was such an enormous thing for her to do, and for us as a family.  She was away from her aging parents and her kids for so long, and having to live and work in a whole new world was exhausting, but exhiliarating for her.  When I was recently cleaning out her house, I found many, many, many reminders of that year.  Keepsakes she had kept for more than 20 years.  Funny that I think of it now, that she died exactly 20 years after her year in the USA.

I saved my pennies and got a loan from my Uncle, and went to visit with a one way ticket, not knowing how long I would stay.  I was 22 and in a serious relationship, which was heartbreaking to leave, for an unknown amount of time.  I was there for a total of three months, if only I could go back and tell that 22 year old self of mine to hang in there and stay for the rest of the year.  So many more precious memories and exeriences I would have to draw on now.  But, it was not to be, I had a life to return to, and Mum always knew and encouraged us to lead our own lives, regardless of how selfishly she wanted to hang on to us to make things easier for her.  I really appreciate how hard this must have been now I am the mother of a 10 year old boy.

A month or so in to my trip, we had visitors, which was great fun.  Dianne (the friend referred to earlier in this post) and my friend Leanne and my older brother Cullen and his wife Sylvia.  Great fun and laughter was had.  I remember celebrating the 4th of July, and so it was definately around this time of the year.

Mum and Sylvia had a conference to attend in Dublin, Ireland, and lucky me got to go along.  Mum and I made our way there and met Sylvia in Dublin.  When we landed in Ireland we found the college we were staying at and decided to have a bit of a rest.  We were exhausted travelling all the way across America, transferring at JFK Airport in New York and then flying to Dublin.  Funny now I think of it compared to the 20 hours of flying to Inverness, Scotland from Adelaide.  So our rest turned in to a full blown sleep with a sleep in and when we woke up, the sun was up and it was 10.  Wow, we couldn’t believe we slept all night and then slept in so long in the morning, but we were tired!

So off we went exploring to find some breakfast as we were pretty hungry after missing dinner.

How odd it was here, every shop or cafe we found was shut, but every bar we found was open and full of revellers.  What?  At 10am??  Shouldn’t people (at least some of them) be at lectures/tutes (we were at a uni after all, and I knew first hand that the life of a uni student is not all about bars and partying).

It took half an hour or so of this before it dawned on us.  It was twilight, and it was actually 10pm, which is why the shops were shut but the pubs were full.  Alrighty then.  So, it was a late night snack we were looking for, not breakfast.

Sylvia met us the next day and for the next few days they were conferening and I was plannning the rest of our trip during the day and we went exploring in the afternoons/evenings.  We had a great time.  We found some great pubs, some very funny signs, some great spots for shopping and immersed ourselves in the big city life of Dublin.  Then the conference finished and Sylvia went home, leaving Mum and I to explore Ireland.  We had decided on a three week vacation, so we had two and a half weeks left.

Twenty years is a long time ago.  I am struggling to remember details (which is why I knew that I needed to start blogging to jot down memories as they came to me).  What I do know without thinking too hard at all was that it was a time where there was no internet or mobile phones.  No Google Maps, no Booking.com, no Trip Advisor. Planning a trip around Ireland was much more difficult and time consuming in those days than it is now.  We had to visit Tourist Information Offices and trawl through pages and pages of information and maps to work out the best places to visit, to stay and to eat.  I took most of this responsibiity on happily, being the born organiser that I am (not to mention somewhat of a control freak) it suited me.  Mum was loving not having to think so hard and make every decision that she had grown used to doing, living in a foreign Country, so it suited her too.  So, a great deal of the time was spent by me coming up with a plan for the next few days, which way we should head, what we wanted to see and how we could get there (did we catch a bus or train, get a ferry, a taxi or hire a car)?  So many options.

I have lots of great photos, which I’ll need to add once I’m home that helps demonstrate our experience. I know Mum took a photo (at least one) of me looking through travel information and she wrote a caption “My little travel organiser”.  Mum and I had been referring to me being the Mum in the relationship because I was doing the hard decision making and Mum being “baby” where she didn’t need to think about anything, just follow me.  I clearly remember getting to a point of exhaustion though and asking Mum to help with some planning.  Her response “but I want to be Baby” to which I responded louder “BUT I WANT TO BE BABY!!!”.  She laughed raucously and duly handed over the mantle of Baby, just for a little while, and I revelled in not having to think.  Ahhhhh.

We had a large suitcase each, which we had to lug on and off buses, trains and ferries and in and out of Hostels and B&B’s. We worked out pretty quickly that this “backpacking” with suitcases around Ireland was not the best idea, and we vowed we would actually have backpacks next time.  We both lived up to this.  Mum returned the next year in 1995 by herself and I have a precious diary she wrote and she refers to the backpack she was carrying.  This trip that I am on currently I was adamant (even though every person I told tried to tell me I was crazy) that our bags needed to be carried on our backs and not dragged behind us.  Boy was I right.  I say each and every day what a great decision bringing backpacks was as we are walking along small, uneven or busy footpaths, on and off trains and buses and up flights of stairs.  Bruce and Jay totally agree and laugh every time that I say it because I was so adamant having done it with Mum that we would not have suitcases this time.  I doubted myself a few times when so many people were questioning our judgement, but thankfully I stuck to my guns and we are reaping the rewards now.

Of this trip so far, this town, being Galway is the first town that I have been to before.  Mum and I loved Galway and we ended up staying for three nights, which was a lot on our trip as we had a lot that we wanted to do in the two and a half weeks.

Walking around Galway yesterday, it was vaguely familiar.  I recognised the train station and I knew which way to walk to head in to the centre of town.  I remembered though that Mum and I stayed out of town (a 20 minute or so walk), which I believe was at Salthill, and so most of our time was spent at the B&B and the pub next door and the cafe two doors down.  I remember lots of relaxing and walking along Galway Bay and the wind coming across the bay being so cold it made my ears ache.  I fondly remember the guy in the pub making fun of my accent when I ordered a “Baileys” as I knew that I wanted to drink something Irish but could not bring myself to join Mum in a Guiness (even though the signs around the streets kept telling me “Guiness is Good for you”..  I remember the people were very friendly, often they would stop when they heard our accents and asked us if we were enjoying our holiday and give us travel tips on where to go and how to best enjoy their Country that they were so proud of and wanted us to love as much as they did.

Today Bruce, Jay and I are off to explore Galway our way.  Nothing we are doing today will be the same as what Mum and I did, but I’m sure I’ll feel her presence each time I see a familiar building or another memory comes to me.

I am pleased that mostly the memories bring me happiness for the fact that I have them and I shared such a wonderful experience with her, rather than being overwhelmed with the the sadness I feel about the fact that I can’t share this experience with her.  She would be so happy to know that we are here.  It feels like it was meant to be.

But jeez I miss her.

Visiting the addresses in the Scottish Ogilvy line in my ancestry – Part 2 Elgin

So, day two in Elgin, after a hearty breakfast at our wonderful B&B Moraydale Guest House, back down High Street I travelled.  Guess what I found?

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There it was – 49 High Street Elgin, the house that my Great Great Grandfather, John Ogilvie died prematurely at the age of 32 when my Great Great Grandfather James Ogilvie was 4 and his older brother Alexander was 10 and his two sisters Margaret and Jean were 3 and 1 respectively.  How amazing that another of the houses that they lived was still standing, and even more amazing was that I was standing in front of it.

I realised this was the time to start the process of leaving my Mum’s DNA in meaningful places.

Six months or so before Mum died, her long beautiful “salt and pepper” hair was becoming difficult for her to handle with her failing health.  She put it in to two pony tails and cut it and told me that she wanted to find out how she could donate it to those that made wigs for cancer patients.  Her health then deteriorated quickly and when she died I knew that her hair was too precious to donate, so I kept it.  When this trip to the UK to trace our ancestry became a reality, Bruce suggested that we take some of Mum’s hair with us, for two reasons.  So she is close to us physically as we travel to the places she painstakingly researched, and so we could leave some of her hair in the places that we know meant so much to her.  This way her DNA would be part of the lands from where her genes had originated.  I thought it was a great idea, but as the time to pack came, I took out Mum’s hair and I wasn’t sure I could bring myself to part with it.  I faultered.  Should I see this through, or should I be selfish and keep it all to myself?  I decided to take one of the pony tails with me and to leave one at home, safe.  I could then make my mind up when I was there.  It could always come home with me, and at least I would be able to have her hair with me on the trip.

As I stood outside of number 49 High Street, Elgin, I was completely sure about what I needed to do.  I gently removed the zip lock bag that hat been tucked in the “bum bag” around my waist every moment of every day, and I took out five or six strands of long, beautiful grey hair and with tears on my cheeks, I dropped it on the ground.  Right outside the house where her Great Great Grandfather had died almost 60 years ago, my Mum’s hair and the DNA that it contained were left.  At the end of the row of houses, there was a little garden, and I left more hair in and around the trees.  The memorial in the middle of High Street, more hair left in the garden.  The more strands of hair I left, the more I felt like I was doing the right thing and I knew that Mum must be pleased.  I walked to the end of High Street, returned the remaining precious hair to my bum bag and entered the Births Deaths and Marriages office to see if there was anything further I could uncover about John’s death.  Why did he die so young and where exactly in Elgin Cathedral Cemetary is he buried?

Alas, nothing further was to be uncovered.  I had the register of his death, which the woman gave me a hard copy of (once I told her it was on Scotland’s people and gave her the exact spelling of his surname on the register – Ogilvy) but she could give me nothing further.  She told me to go to the Heritage Centre, who I rang and they found John and told me they had nothing further about his death, but there was applications for poor relief and police complaints that I could view, but only after 10am.  It was unlikely that I would have time – we were going to visit Elgin Cathedral and had a train to catch at 11.40.

What I did know was that he was buried at Elgin Cathedral and the woman at the Cathedral confirmed that his name is not on the index of headstones, which most likely means that there was no headstone – they may not have been able to afford it.  This makes sense to me.  Christina was widowed at the age of 31 with four kids under 10.  How could she possibly have been able to afford a headstone when the bread winner died most likely with no warning and they had already been applying for poor relief before his death?

What I did find out is that Elgin Cathedral is absolutely breathtaking.  Headstone or no headstone, what a place to be buried!

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We climbed the tower and once again I removed the precious hair from it’s safe place.  This time I shared the experience and my 10 year old son Jay and my Husband Bruce both joined me in scattering Mum’s hair to the wind, high above Elgin.  This time there were no tears, just a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  We all felt the importance of what we were doing.

I then walked among the cemetary and scattered Mum’s hair over the ground.  Now Mum’s DNA is where John’s DNA is.  We hurried off to catch our train to Edinburgh and my only regret is that I didn’t have another night in Elgin to take in more of this beautiful place and get to the Heritage Centre.  I guess I’ll just have to come back.

My mind was completely blown.

Visiting the addresses in the Scottish Ogilvy line in my ancestry – Part 1 Inverness and Elgin

Inverness was beautiful. Such history. I knew that my Great Great Great Grandmother Christine Mackenzie was born in Glenurquhart Invernesshire, but I really didn’t know what that meant. Until now.

Inverness was my introduction to Scotland and I fell in love with this land immediately. A feeling of belonging and mystery and wanting to know more swept over me.

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I discovered Glenurquhart was the village near Urquhart Castle, which is on Loch Ness.  So we caught a bus there, paid the entrance fees to the Castle and enjoyed the experience, although it was very busy with tourists (fancy that?). I discovered that Urquart Castle was destroyed by the English in the late 1700s before my Great Great Great Grandmother, Christine Mackenzie was born.  Perhaps she travelled here to visit the ruins?

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Then it was a bus ride to Elgin.  This was to be the most important part of my visit to Scotland for my ancestry, unfortunately I didn’t plan enough time here.  Another day would have been fantastic.

The bus station was near High Street, and I knew this was where my Great Great Grandfather Jame Ogilvy lived.

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We found our accommodation for the night – Moraydale Guest House – beautiful.

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From Mum’s Ancestry bible I knew that my Great Great Grandfather, Marie Ogilvie’s father lived at 52 High Street.  So after dropping our bags we went off to find number 52 to see if it was still standing.  It was …..

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I could hardly believe it.  Oh Mum, if only you were here to share this moment.  All your hard work and here it was – the house that your Great Grandfather lived in, still standing and this is what it looks like today.  I took photos with tears wetting my cheeks and breathed in the moment.  How amazing was this?  I knew there was another address at High Street – 10 High Street that James lived later once his father had died.  Investigation found that there are new, modern Council offices where 10 High Street must have previously stood.  So, even in a town as historic as Elgin, some houses are sacrificed for the purposes of development.  What a shame.

There was a great little pub “The Drouthy Cobbler” down the laneway next to 52 High Street, where we had a drink and found out about John Shanks aka The Drouthy (likes a drink) Cobbler who, with his bare hands cleared the ruins of Elgin Cathedral and then was appointed the caretaker of the Cathedral “The jewel of the North”.  This pub was a real find and a great story.

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Later that night, a deeper study of Mum’s Bible found that I was wrong.  52 High Street was not where James Ogilvie lived with his parents, this is the first house that where he lived with his mother after his father had died.  He first lived at 49 High Street with his parents, which is where his father John died prematurely, aged 32, when James was only 4 and his younger sisters were only 3 and 1.  What a tragedy to happen to a young family.  I knew that tomorrow, as well as visiting the local Births, Deaths and Marriages office to see if I could find out any more about John’s death, I needed to find 49 High Street and see if that too, was still standing…..

A big Adventure thanks to Mum

Very soon, my little family (my Husband Bruce, my son Jay and I) are taking off on a big adventure. I have chosen to invest my share of Mum’s superannuation fund in my family, a pilgrimage exploring the parts of the UK that our ancestors came from, that Mum worked so hard to track down. We will visit Elgin, where my Great Great Grandfather came from, (the father of the Marie referred to in the name of this blog). We will visit County Clare where Susan Kelleher (the Susan that Mum was “Seeking” per the Blog Name) and I will trek up Crag Rd, Windhill, where my Grandfather lived and my Mum explored in the late 90’s.

We will visit some of the places that I explored with my Mum 21 years ago in Ireland – Corofin, Galway and Dublin being three of the favourites. This is where I will celebrate the fact that I have managed to survive an entire year without my Mum. A very fitting place to do so.

We will catch up with Sean Whelan, an elderly gentleman who Mum and I met in Corofin all those years ago and we believe to be a distant relative, but have never found the proof. We will also meet another distant relative of mine – by marriage – Mandy Burton, who became a very dear friend of my Mum’s and has been somewhat of a mother figure to me since Mum died, checking in from afar to make sure I am ok.

We will also be going to two of the Ashes matches – one in Cardiff and one in London as well as spending six days in London visiting Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and many more London sights, which we have all wanted to do.

There has been a lot of planning and organising over the last six months or so and now it is nearly here.

I am filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation – just how will I cope with this big adventure so closely tied to my Mum without her here to share the joy of it with?

Only time will tell. Wish me luck!

8 month anniversary of Mum’s Death

Its been a very long time between blogs.  I have been busy with a lot of other stuff, which I will find time to blog about soon, but I needed to post this today.

8 months ago today was a day from hell, that is etched in my memory torturing me with its cruel pace, whenever my mind is still.  But on the morning of that day, only hours before she was taken from us, my Mum had the strength to make and allow us to record memories.  Here are two of my favourites.  One shows her strength and one shows her pride – she was full to overflowing in both.

I love you Mum and miss you more than words can say.  :(20140706_130649 20140706_130947

Catherine Crout-Habel Day

So, today my Mum, Catherine Crout-Habel would have turned 68. It is almost 5 months since she left us and the void left behind has not begun to shrink. I know she would be proud of us for the way we are continuing to live our lives, but I also know that she would be happy that today is “all about her” as we pause in our busy lives and take time to remember the amazing woman she was, and what she achieved, and how she influenced us to become the successful people we are.

imageI have started the day well with prepping vegetables for a delicious lamb roast lunch while remembering favourite meals cooked by Mamo as well as other lovely memories with Jay.

Happy Catherine Crout-Habel/Mamo/Caiteile day everyone. May the sun shine brightly today and may there be more tears of Joy for the fact that she was part of our lives, rather than sadness because she no longer is.

A Horse Race in November that my Mum loved

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Today is the day of the Melbourne Cup – known in Australia as the Race that stops a Nation.

It’s an odd thing here in Adelaide, because Melbourne Cup is not a public holiday for us, for all intents and purposes it is a normal working day.  However, it is more common than not that Businesses stop, that people attend Melbourne Cup lunches and that most people seem to participate in some form of betting on the Race.  Adelaide does stop for the Melbourne Cup, it’s very difficult to get business done around lunchtime on the First Tuesday in November.

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The 2014 Melbourne Cup has just concluded and Horse Number 5, Protectionist, ridden by Ryan Moore has won.  This doesn’t mean a whole lot to me and the only reason I know is because it was on the telly in the snack bar that I went to get my lunch from.  I actually watched the race this year!

I had a morning tea where I invited all my staff to come and join me and drink coffee/tea and eat cake, which is very unusual for us, but due to the fact that I am appreciative to all of my staff that our office doesn’t stop for the Race that Stops the Nation.

I was also very pleased when I called my number one client at midday and he too was at his desk working hard.

So, perhaps less people are involved in the celebration than I thought…..

Then I remembered, my Mum, Catherine Crout-Habel, whose blog this is, LOVED the Melbourne Cup.  Considering she was not much of a gambler, and especially considering how terrified of horses she was, the fact that she reveled in all things Melbourne Cup was extremely unusual.

She would pull out posters of the horses and review all of the Horses running and she would choose who she thought would take it out this year.  This was more often than not based on the number or the colour that the jockey was wearing, certainly nothing scientific, but she really did love it.

Sometimes she would place a bet, more often not, but she would ALWAYS watch the race, and she would delight in the beauty of the horses.  She would describe the horses and the way they majestically strode to the finish line.

I went back through old posts, old emails and old text messages as I was eating my lunch to find something that she had written about the Melbourne Cup to share and came up with nothing.  So, I decided it all had to come from me, my memory.

I remember she loved Makybe Diva – a horse that won the Melbourne Cup in 2003,2004 and 2005 – wow, I can’t believe that was so long ago!  This is Makybe Diva:

Makybe Diva

An interesting fact I’ve just discovered is that Protectionist who won today ran the race in 3.17.71, which is the fastest time since before Makybe Diva’s reign started.  Media Puzzle won in 2002 with a time of 3.16.97.

I was sad when I thought that this was the first Melbourne Cup that Mum wasn’t able to enjoy and decided I needed to put up a quick post so that everyone knew how much Mum loved the Melbourne Cup.

Now, I need to get back to the pile of work that I should be attacking ….

Cheerio

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A sparkling bathroom and a continued commitment to my Mum

It’s currently 5 am and I have been up for an hour.  Our dog woke me up at 3.45 needing to be let out for a night-time wee and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep.  I could feel Mum pulling me towards the computer to write a blog.  This was, after all her chosen time to be up researching and blogging and having deep and meaningful conversations with people all over the world.

It’s been nearly four months since Mum died and over three months since my last blog post.  I’ve been busy, just a little, but that’s no excuse – I’ve had the biggest case of writers block.

I know there are stories to be written along the lines of those that Mum used to write about her family.  After all, that is why she set up this blog in the first place, but they haven’t formed in my brain yet.  I hope that they do.

Nothing has really presented itself to be worthy of sharing with anyone, let alone her loyal followers who were intrigued with her blogs, touched by her honesty, inspired by her bravery and drawn in to her love of investigating and sharing her knowledge.  What could I say that would be anywhere near as interesting as that?

Well yesterday I was at Mum’s house and it hit me that I need to write.  I need to share this experience and this realisation with those that she loved.  I’m sure that some of you have been wondering how I am going, and been concerned about the silence on Mum’s blog.  It all takes time, one foot in front of the other.

So, my “aha” moment came when I was sweating and scrubbing Mum’s shower alcove. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not enjoy any aspect of cleaning, and I especially despise cleaning bathrooms.  But for me, yesterday was not about just cleaning a bathroom, I realised it was much more important than that.  It was a continuation of the bond and the love that I have for my Mum and the commitment that I made to help her with aspects of her life that she found difficult or was not able to do on her own.

Mum had been ill for a while.  She had COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder which meant that her lungs didn’t work very well at all.  This worsened earlier in the year, which now was an indication that there was something more sinister happening, as she died in July of lung cancer.

So, with her illness came the inability to do much at all physically.  Walking more than 10 steps would mean she was out of breath.  So, of course, scrubbing her shower alcove went down the list of her priorities as she conserved her energy for more meaningful things in her life.

I knew this and could see her bathroom was getting pretty grubby, but my time with her was spent on the higher priority things like “chewing the fat” whilst drinking coffee around her kitchen table, sweeping the floor, putting on and hanging out loads of washing, taking her to doctors appointments, chemist trips and phone calls to various authorities to sort out things that she was not able to handle herself.

So the shower alcove was left for another day.

That day was yesterday.

I knew that Mum would have been embarrassed by the state of her bathroom, and I know that it was my trusted position to restore some dignity to her, even after her death.

So, I covered the whole shower alcove in “Easy off Bam, bathroom” and then I began scrubbing.  And scrubbing.  And rinsing. And soaking and scrubbing.

Rather than hating it, I enjoyed the feeling that with every bit of soap scum removed, I was continuing on the commitment that I made to help her with things that she could no longer do.  There will be people coming to her house over the coming months, some that she knows well, some that she knows not very well, and some that she doesn’t know at all. She would not have wanted any of them to see the state of her bathroom as it was, but I feel so much better now knowing that is no longer the case.

I know that she is not here to be embarrassed any more about the state of her bathroom, but death does not take away your pride and your dignity and those of us that remain have the responsibility of making sure that we honour her memory by making sure that there are no sideways glances or pity parties about how ill she was and how tough she did it, by strangers or any of those that were not in her trusted inner circle.

This is why I cleaned her bathroom, this is why I watered her lawn and her pot plants, this is why I took the clothes that she had in bags in her boot of her car that were meant to be donated to charity and this is why I am continuing my weekly commitment to help her with the jobs that she is no longer able to do.

With each of these jobs there is a sense of doing the right thing.  Of making sure that the “treasures” in her life are looked after – the photos, jewellery, cards and letters that I have in a drawer as well as her house.  She loved her house and when her health was better this was obvious to all.

All of the things that were higher up the list of priorities – the chewing of the fat and the doctors appointments have now dropped off the list altogether, which means that the priority list has changed, but my time spent “with” her is still addressing the priorities.  At the top of the list, which I keep under control weekly is handling all of her mail and making sure her bills are paid and unwanted or unneeded memberships and associations are cancelled and then the next of the list is sorting, clearing, maintaining, cleaning and eventually throwing out, donating or selling the possessions in her life, some of which were treasures and some which were not.

This will keep me and my brothers busy for some time.

But for now, here is your sparkling bathroom Mum and here is the new post on your blog – one of your very greatest treasures.

would Mum's shower Mum's bathroom

Look at me with my own identity on Mum’s blog!

Well, I did it, I worked out how to set up another administrator on Mum’s blog so that I as well as everyone else can identify what has been said by me and what was said by Mum.

I can feel Mum smiling down on me, clapping her hands with glee and saying something like “you clever chickadee”

So, my plan is that I hope to be able to do everything through my user name now, let’s see how I go.

Thanks so much for your kind words of support.

You will see that I am different to my Mum, but we certainly were “tarred with the same brush” and I like to think that a lot of what what great about her rubbed off on me.  We certainly did spend a lot of time together years ago before I had a family of my own.

See you later, alligator …….

….. In a while, crocodile …..

 

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Two best friends, ballet and night bells

Last Wednesday I (Kirrily) went to Mum’s (Catherine’s) house to pick up her mail and to go on the search for photos.  I have been posting photos of my Mum to an album on Facebook since she died on Sunday the 6th of July as a dedication.

Included in the mail was a letter addressed to the family of Catherine Crout-Habel.

It was from Margaret Jordan – Mum’s very best childhood friend.  They went to ballet together and from the sounds of it were inseparable.  They had lost contact years ago but had met up sometime in the past couple of years.  Mum told me all about it, they had a wow of a day.

There was a card and it was addressed to ‘the family of my friend Cathy” and included a photo.

Here is some of the letter that I read through eyes filled with tears-

“Cathy was 2 years younger than me and we grew up at Alberton/Queenstown just like sisters.  We were always at one another’s places and went to ballet together.  We had so much fun together and Cathy sometimes went with my Mother and I to Mildura for a few days to visit some of my relatives.

When we both learnt piano, we used to run down North Tce in the city, pressing all the night time bells.

I caught up with Cathy a couple of years ago after not speaking for years.  We met at Largs Bay Kiosk and showed one another photos of our families and grandchildren (of which she was extremely proud).  We met at 10am and were still chatting at 5pm.  I had such a great day and it was just so good to see her again after all those years, it was like we had never been apart.

We both had our ears pierced n 1959 at the same time,Cathy’s being done for her birthday that year.  Oh how scared we were, but we had one another, so that was OK.

I have enclosed a photo of the 2 of us aged about 14 or 15.  We always had such fun together.  We could talk to each other about anything!

Cathy was a beautiful person and a true friend.

Catherine Crout-Habel and Margaret Jordan at approx. 14 or 15, circa 1960

Margaret included her address, and I will write back and I will include a memorial card from Mum’s funeral.  I was so pleased that she sent the card and the photo and a few of the memories that came flooding back to her when she read about Mum’s death.

What made this even more special for me was that it reminded me so much of my best childhood friend – Stacey.  We see each other still, almost every week and we often relive many childhood memories.  She is waging her own war on cancer and I am there helping her do it as best I can.  We too can talk to each other about anything, which is especially useful when she is sitting in a chemo chair.  It has always been the same – every time we would see each other it would be just as if we saw each other the previous day, no matter how long it had been.

Childhood friends are the greatest, if you are lucky enough to hang on to them.  They knew you as a child and they know you as an adult and are able to appreciate all that there is about you because they know you so well and have shared history with you.

Do you have a dear childhood friend like Mum did with Margaret and like I do with Stacey?  I’d love to hear.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Mum’s childhood friend as much as I enjoyed sharing it.

Cheers,

Kirrily