US and Canada 2018 – the planning and the take off

Such an amazing trip and I want to get some memories down that are about the trip and not about family history before I forget them.

We originally planned this trip when Jay was fanatical about basketball and we were going to come to some NBA games.  We put a rough budget together and a savings plan.  Then times changed and cricket took over and basketball took a backseat.  We kept saving.  Then we weren’t sure if we would put in a pool and travel and decided to have no pool so we could make sure we travelled.  We had a family meeting, made the decision and did a fists One, Two, Three “No Pool”.  Times changed, we missed our pool terribly during the hot summer, we rethought and decided to put the pool in and still do our US trip.  However, we realised we couldn’t do it in October as first thought – that was the beginning of cricket season, and Jay had just been accepted in to the Cricket Program at Adelaide High School as well as been invited to play for Adelaide Cricket Club under 14’s.  So we rethought and decided that it was to be in April, May 2018.  We would have the extra six months of savings and if we were lucky we could catch a basketball game at the end of the season.  So, it was on.  Just had to actually make it happen and book some flights.

We all had input on what we were on our must sees – Jay wanted San Diego, Bruce and I wanted New York, I wanted to drive the West Coast, Bruce and I wanted Grand Canyon and we all wanted Niagara Falls.  I dropped a considerable sized hint to Jane that if I was going to be as close as New York, maybe I could come visit.  She jumped in enthusiastically and I suggested the idea that I go to Montreal from New York and the boys might like a few days in Miami and then we all meet in Hawaii.  That was our rough plan.

Once I had that, it was almost like it was organised and months went by.  I spoke with Stacey, my cousin’s wife who lives in Ohio and had invited us to come and stay and they could take us to Niagara Falls from there – they do it with all of their visitors.  This sounded great and so I added it to the wish list and then she said “made sure you stop off in Hawaii on your way home to break up the flight”.  I realise what she meant when I saw that New York to LA is 6 hours and LA to Melbourne is about 14 hours, so 20 hours of flying – Ugh.  I discussed this with Bruce and Jay and it was added as a “must do” to the trip.

I kept saying “I must book the flights” and then finally in January 2018 whilst holidaying at Victor Harbor (where our best holiday planning usually eventuates), I booked the major flights.  Adelaide – LA (Virgin) and Hawaii to Adelaide (Jetstar).  The trip was on!

More time went by – “I must book more flights” was said a multitude of times again and then finally in about March I booked New York – Montreal (Air Canada), Montreal – Hawaii (American via Philadelphia and LA), New York – Miami (American), Miami – Hawaii (American via Chicago and LA).

Ok, now we had the bare bones of the trip organised.

I had always had dreams of San Francisco and LA is pretty close, would that factor in??  Grand Canyon is near Las Vegas – none of us are particularly keen on Vegas on it’s own, but our dream was a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, if funds permit.  Not sure if we wanted to see it just from the ground.

We got closer.  No more flights or any accommodation had been booked, but I discovered that the basketball fixture was out and look at that, we were landing in LA on the 7th of April and the season finished on the 11th.  There was a game LA Lakers vs LA Clippers in LA on the 11th April, which I looked at, but that would mean that our first part of our trip would be in LA.  What about San Francisco.  Then I found Golden State Warriors vs New Orleans Pelicans at Oakland (near San Francisco) on April the 7th  the day we arrived.

Discussions with Bruce and decisions made – flight from LA to San Francisco, tickets to the Golden State Warriors game and accommodation for two nights in Oakland were booked (I had the forethought to realise we would need to sleep once we got back from the game).  I was right, we ended up sleeping 15 hours that night – thank God we didn’t have to check out.

On the 6th of April we dropped our two four legged kids, Stella and Turbo in to their holiday camp (which they don’t LOVE, but they are safe and well looked after).

The night before we left, I had trouble sleeping (no surprise) and was concerned that we didn’t have the night in San Francisco booked or the car, so I booked them.

On the 7th of April we headed off, armed with our major flights booked, the Golden State Basketball game, three nights of accommodation and a car for 10 days.  The rest we would figure out as we went (much to my Mother-In-Law’s horror who was desperate to know our itinerary in advance).  What a trip this is going to be!

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Collating family history information gathered in the last five days – Part 1 – Henry Eden Crout, Emily Jacobs and their children Harry and Leslie Eden Crout

This trip is a whirlwind of information provided by June.  She is the Catherine Crout Habel of the Canadian Crouts – the receptacle of the family history – she has boxes of certificates and photos and a head full of information, stories and memories.

Mum always said the stories and the photos put the “meat on the bones” of the names on the family tree, making them come to life and she hoped that it was the stories that would make the history more interesting for future generations, so that the information continues to get passed down.

It is the getting “on paper” of the stories that led her to creating this blog and so it is only fitting that it is here, on Mum’s blog that I order the information I have before I fly off to Hawaii in the morning.

This really has been a treat for both June and I to have the collation of information the number one priority of my trip, and it’s more than a little like spending a week with my Mum.  About as close as I can get, I reckon.

 

So, I’m starting with photos and information that I have that relates to Henry Eden Crout, and his four children from his two wives – Marie Ogilvie and Emily Jacobs.

 

The grave of my Great Grandfather Harry Eden Crout, his mother and second wife

I am in Montreal, Canada, staying with one of my Canadian cousins, June.  I have plenty to blog about, but for now I’m going to start with what happened today.

June has been a wonderful host and has been my chauffeur all around Canada since she picked me up from the airport, three days ago.  Today started with breakfast at a beautiful French patisserie – Premiere Moisson in Vaudreuil-Dorion, where you chose three types of bread for toast and your jam and I chose a large cafe lait.  Little did I know that meant it was going to be a BOWL of coffee.  It was spectacular!

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Sufficiently fuelled for our day, we headed off to Mount Royal cemetery, armed with the plot number of the grave that my Great Grandfather, Henry (Harry) Eden Crout was buried in, with his mother Annie and his second wife, Emily Jacobs.  My Grandfather Harry Scarborough Crout was born to Harry Eden and his first wife, Marie Ogilvie in 1912.  June’s father Henry Eden Crout (also called Harry) was born to Harry Eden and his second wife Emily Jacobs in 1911.

June called ahead for directions as she wasn’t sure where the Protestant section of the cemetery was and then off we headed.  I didn’t realise that there was no headstone on the grave until we arrived and asked for specific instructions to the plot and June mentioned there was no headstone.

The plot was only a short walk away and so we followed our map, mentally ticking off all of the markers the administration person had told us about and got to the section where the graves faced the other way and then counted back seven rows, as instructed and looked for the second section.  This was the hardest part, finding where the first section finished and the second began.  Then we counted forward three plots, looking for an empty plot with no headstone and then I saw it – CROUT.

I said – “isn’t that it”?  A shocked June agreed and there it was, the grave of my Great Grandfather Harry Eden Crout, buried with his mother, Annie (Moodie) and his second wife Emily Jacobs.  How wonderful, not only to find the grave, but to find that it did in fact have a headstone, and to have discovered this with June, who hadn’t been there for many years, maybe even as long ago as when Emily died, which was 45 years ago.

 

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June is pretty sure that “Uncle Les” – Leslie Eden Crout, the youngest and most recently deceased of Harry Eden Crout’s four kids is most likely the person who organised the headstone.  She thinks most likely around the time that Leslie was burying his son, Peter, who died in 1983 at the age of 35, from an Asthma attack, or his wife Helen (Sorlie) in 1993.

That means that this headstone has been here for at least 25 years, maybe longer.

The lichen had taken over, and so we spent some time cleaning the writing to make it legible, with what we had.  Even after doing that and editing the photo, it is still hard to make out the inscription.  It reads:-

CROUT

In loving memory of

1856 Annie Crout 1940

1880 Harry 1961

His wife

1881 Emily 1973

We thanked Les and enjoyed sharing the moment of discovery and unveiling and June said she hoped that Catherine (my Mum) could see.  She said “we know your secret Grandad, and it’s all ok”.  I agreed.  How wonderful to be in this position, meeting family that I didn’t know I had for most of my life and all because of my Mum.

The cemetery is a beautiful garden cemetery.  Spending eternity there wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

It was a special moment in time – the sun was shining and we were walking in a beautiful garden and I had just found my Great Grandfather’s and Great Great Grandmother’s Grave.  I am so glad I invited myself to stay with June and she so warmly accepted.  Wow.

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The first meeting of the Australian and Canadian Crouts

I am in New York City, half way through a fantastic family holiday with Bruce and Jay.  We have been in the US for two and a half weeks.  We started in Oakland, to go to the basketball and then a night in San Francisco before driving down to LA with a couple of stops on the way and then on to San Diego, then we flew to Vegas for a quick stop to fly over the Grand Canyon and then flew to New York City and have been here for three days.

We have been saving for and planning this trip for a fair while.  In amongst the plan was for me to go and stay for five nights with June, my Mum’s closest Canadian Cousin.  I wrote about the connection between Mum and June here.  That is the next stage of the trip after we have had our 7 nights in New York.  I will certainly be blogging about that, so watch this space.

The last blog I wrote, in September, I talked about two Cousins who had contacted me from seeing a blog post of Mum’s – that post you can read here.  So, the most amazing thing just happened.  Here, I sit in my hotel room blogging after returning from dinner with one of them – Peter Harp, his beautifully glowing pregnant wife Jesse and Peter’s brother Mac and his beautiful wife Elise.  There the three of us and families sat talking about the similarities and differences between Australia and America and specific particularities about New York, we got along wonderfully, we ate beautiful very affordable Chinese food and then took some photos for posterity (plus June told me I had to) and then we stopped for Ice Cream, said our goodbyes and headed off our separate ways.  Before we did, I shared with Peter and Mac how this is historical as it is the first meeting of the Australian contingent of Crouts from Henry Eden Crout from his first wife Marie Ogilvie and the Canadian contingent of Crouts from his second and lifelong partner Emily Jacobs.  You can read about the Canadian connection here

The two photos that were taken with Jay were really white in the bottom half, like there was an unearthly presence …. Mum? any chance you were letting us know you were there????  I’m not so sure about that, but what I am sure about is that she would have been clapping her hands with glee.  All that she wanted was for Marie and Grandad to be honoured and the best way this can be done in my mind is for everyone to know about them.  I am making sure that they have their place in the Crout history, and I am having the fun of meeting some of the cousins along the way!  I know Mum would have loved to meet them but she just ran out of time, so I’m making sure I do it for her.

Thanks for organising a great night Peter, it was a pleasure to meet you all.  I look forward to being in touch with you all, and meeting you again someday, either when we come back to USA or one day if you come to Australia!

Family is a complicated, intriguing and wonderful thing and I remain so grateful that Mum’s final years were spent not only obsessing over family history, but actually writing it here for the benefit of us all, her enduring legacy.

 

 

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Stace – two years without you

My friend for almost 38 years, my partner in everything hilarious for the last three of those years, you have been gone now for two.

So much laughter and happiness left my life the day I said my final goodbye to you.

I am lucky to be able to still hear your laugh when my mind is still and I concentrate.

So much has happened and so much is different now. I miss your family who I also saw regularly over those last three years. I imagined that I would still see them, except for Glenn and very occasionally Jess and Jayden, I don’t. I hold Glenn’s friendship close and make sure I keep in contact with him. I’m really glad that my friendship with him has grown from just being about my bond with you. We are bonded by Jay and Bruce now as well as our own long history, thanks to you.

Thanks to that phone call you made to him in high school, pretending to be Allison Hayes asking if he liked you. Thank God you made that phone call and brought him in to my life.

Jayden is working and Jess has gone out on her own, standing on her own two feet. I know you would be proud of them as you always were.

Vikki and Adam have moved in to a great little place – you would be so happy to see her so happy there.

Your Mum and Dad are moving to Victor. A massive thing for your family, leaving the family home (finally) and moving somewhere that makes them happy. I’m so pleased for them.

Glenn is working – too hard. He needs to keep busy, to keep moving to keep his mind away from thinking too much and getting too blue. He’s finding his way, in his way. He’s about the only one that I feel like I am able to keep my promise to you to look after for you.

Rachel and Jim have been travelling a lot and loving it by the looks of the photos.

The rest are finding their own way to look after themselves.

We all miss you. The void you have left is huge and the glue that held us all together – you – is gone. Things are very different.

I remember Stace. I remember all the fun, the laughter, the happy tears streaming down our cheeks, the sad ones occasionally escaping, your octopus arms, Sandra being too nice to strange people in the hospital.

I have a new person who has come in to my life who kept throwing me the other day by saying “REALLY?!” in EXACTLY the way you said it – over and over. It made me smile, but it made me ache inside.

I love you friend.

Kathleen Mary Crout – love you Nana

Ten years ago today, I lost my very much loved Nana and my Mum lost her much loved Mum and became an orphan.

Mum and I sat with Nana and held her hand as she passed away peacefully, in my mind. Mums experience was that it was a terrible passing – that Nana wasn’t given sufficient morphine to keep her fully sedated.  That always made me uneasy that our experiences and memories were so different. It made me sad that it tortured Mum so much and I never really knew how to discuss it with Mum without feeling as though I was challenging her.

Three years and two months ago, I then held my Mum’s hand as she took her last breath. Hers was not a peaceful passing, lung cancer will do that. Struggling to get sufficient air in to your lungs is scary and trying to find a comfortable position is exhausting. Thankfully it was quick, but Mum was nowhere near as settled as Nana was and it plays on my mind that if Mum thought Nana’s passing was terrible, I really hope she wasn’t tortured in her final hours.

One VERY big difference was that Mum was not deserted in the years leading up to her death by her closest family. She was the lifeblood of our family, right there in the centre. She knew it and she loved it. Her kids were her greatest achievement, her greatest joy and her best friends. She had a deep and loving bond with her son and daughters “in-love” and she was adored by all of her four grandchildren. And we were all there in the room with her in her final hours (except for Lisa who was overseas) and most of us were in the room when she took her last breath. She made sure of it –  she waited for my husband to make it from the other side of town and 15 minutes before her last breath when Cullen and I were out if the room, she knew her time was coming and she called for us.

I tell myself that wasn’t a tortured passing. She was able to be conscious right up to the last moments – so she could wait for Bruce and call for her kids when she needed to. She was in a lot of pain and had been for hours, but she had found a way to transcend the pain, so she chose not to ask for drugs. I have wondered why we didn’t push for morphine to make  her difficulty in breathing less traumatic for her, but things happen the way they should and she wanted to be present in mind and choose when to go, which could be quicker than if drugs dulled her senses.

This was going to be a post about Nana – on the 10th anniversary of her passing, remembering her and what an amazingly strong woman she was and how she influenced my life. I miss my Nana, but bloody hell I miss my Mum more. I guess this was supposed to be a post about both of them and how 10 years ago we had to learn to live without Nana and then seven years later, I had to learn to live without my Mum.

I wish I had’ve talked to Mum more about her experience of losing her Mum. How difficult it was for her and how she felt.

But then again, maybe I didn’t want to face it. Now that I know how painful it is to lose the most important person in your life, maybe I actually couldn’t have coped with what she would have told me back then. I think she knew that and that’s why she didn’t talk to me about it.

I love you Nana and I love you Mum.

Two amazing women.

Much loved, and greatly missed.

 

It’s a day

Today is the 6th of July, 2016. Two years ago my Mum, Catherine, the owner and creator of this blog was taken from us. Almost a year has passed since my last blog when we were in the UK. An amazing, special time.

I have hardly even visited the blog in this last year.

I have been busy finding my way in my new life, without my Mum. I navigated my way through losing a friend who had a 12 year battle with melanoma in April 2015. Then I stumbled my way through losing my oldest and dearest friend, Stacey, who had a five year battle with breast cancer in September 2015. I managed to get through both of them without Mum. Amazing what you can do, when you have no choice.

I’m doing ok, my son is now 11, I was able to move him to a school which is a much more positive place for him to be. I’m sure that would have been handled much better if Mum was here, but we got through it.  I have finally managed to get him keen on reading. The library is now a favourite place for him to go and I am delighted to see that he has discovered a series which he loves and is spending every spare moment buried in it. I know Mum would be clapping her hands with joy and sharing her love of books with him.

I have become a much easier person to live with than I was when I first lost Mum. Grief was very hard and I was so unhappy and stressed and emotional. Thank God I have an amazing husband who with the assistance of my wonderful grief councillor gave me the space and understanding to find my way.

Today I knew was going to be hard. I was prepared for it, which I’ve decided I need to be more often. I need to plan to give myself space to grieve, and then it’s likely I’ll actually cope with the day better than I expect. I spent a few wonderful hours with my Big Brother last night. In anticipation of having a hard time today and wanting to connect with him – the closest link I have to my Mum. He flew to Singapore for work today, so seeng him today wasn’t possible, but we managed to squeeze in dinner and drinks  last night.

I was talking with him about why I find anniversaries, birthdays, Mothers Days and other special dates so hard. Mothers Day this year was particularly hard. I had told myself and everyone around me I was fine and then I woke up and I was in a big, dark hole. Horrid. I wasn’t ready, it snuck up on me and it sucked. Big Time. I realised that those times are the days that I really stop and think about Mum and how much things are different now. How different I am now, and that makes me really sad.  I now feel like I don’t have somewhere else to go when things get really tough. I would always go to Mum. She was always there with a warm hug, soothing words, a cup of coffee and would help me put a plan together and gather the strength I needed to re-enter the real world. No longer do I have that safe haven, that soft place to fall and gather myself and my strength.

Of course I still have people to go to – my Husband, my Son, my friends and I have my Big Brother. Thank God for my Big Brother. I honestly don’t know what I would have done over these two years without him.  He provides a different safe haven to that which Mum gave me, but I love the fact that Cullen is so much like Mum in different ways to me. Our relationship is different to that which I had with Mum, and different to how our relationship was before Mum died. Back then we really didn’t understand each other, and now we share the fact that we are navigating our way through without Mum and realising that has had a profound effect on us. I feel like he has taken  over from Mum in being able to know when things aren’t right with me and he picks up the phone just to chat. Sometimes I don’t even realise what is coming – the tidal wave of grief, before he calls. I am so grateful for him, and I know he is of me.  When we left each other last night, his parting words about today were “It’s a day”.  He meant it in the way of today being a big day – hence the title of the post.

So this morning I was exhausted – I slept all morning and then felt like I was in a numb dazed state. I decided I needed to achieve something meaningful from the day, so I took myself off to Nalty Memorisls and organised Mum’s headstone. I’ve been meaning to for months, actually more than a year, but the time hasn’t been right. Today, everything fell in to place, and the deposit has been paid, the shape and design of the headstone set, and all I need to do is provide the text – that’s the easy part. I’m really pleased. It,s going to be amazing and then every time I visit the cemetery (which I don’t do all that often) I will be so proud of the headstone and the statement it makes about Mum and who she was, and what she meant to us.

The other thing I wanted to do was write a blog post, so this is my second accomplishment of the day.

Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be over two years since my Mum died. I’ll be in to the next phase. For now I’m happy to have quietly seen the day through, and ticked a couple of boxes.

We are headed off for a week in sunny Cairns on Saturday to spend with my Dad, which should be a nice getaway. I look forward to feeling warm. It’s been so bloody cold lately.

Then I will prepare to mark the one year anniversary of Stacey’s death in September and will be very pleased to post photos of Mum’s headstone here, when it’s complete.

I hope all of you here reading this today still remember my Mum often and with love. You all meant so much to her.

Until next time,

Kirrily

Shipley, Yorkshire and finding Marie’s grave

The last 24 hours has been amazing, and I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just start writing and hope it takes shape.  I have been in Shipley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.  This is the place that I have heard so much about and is where our English Heritage came from.  Shipley is where my Grandad – my Mum’s Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived with his “Mam” until in 1928, at the ripe old age of 16, he decided to travel all the way to the other side of the world to make his fortune and bring it back to his “Mam”.

Unfortunatelly (or fortunately for us) things didn’t go according to plan.  Three years after he left, in 1931 his Mum died and so he felt there was no reason for him to return and he stayed in Adelaide.  He married, lost his first wife, in tragic circumstances shortly after losing their only child durng childbirth and then he remarried her sister (my Nana).  They went on to have four children, my Mum being the third, and only girl and they had 12 children (11 who survived) and from them there have been another 11 children born.  So, as a result of my Graddad taking off across the other side of the world as a child, there have been 27 children born in Australia.  All living happy, healthy and full lives.

Mum visited Shipley in October 1995 to try to find and photograph for Grandad his homeland to bring him peace in his ailing years.  She succeeded, what a success her trip was, and she lovingly put a folder of photos and maps together that Grandad would pour over as his memories were failing and he was falling in to dementia.  What I only found out yesterday when I was reading her post on this blog about Yorkshiire, was that she thought this book had disappeared and was sad about that.  This very book I had found in Nana’s things when I was cleaning out Mum’s house a few months ago.  Oh, how I wish I could tell her and she could have had time to look back through the book, relive the memories and know her gift was safe for us future generations to enjoy.

I knew I needed to find Crag Rd, Windhill, Shipley, which in the current era of Sat Nav maps on our iphones, was a pretty easy task.  I realised this was much easier for me, driving a hire car, armed with a Sat Nav and all the knowledge Mum’s renaissance trip in 1995 had provided.  Mum had walked the very steep hills on foot carrying maps and it was only due to the help from some locals that she was able to find the information she had travelled all that way for.

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I sat on the side of Crag Road, and read Mum’s Yorkshire blog and from that post I was able to identify Grandad’s primary school and the church that he attended Sunday School as well as the library that he loved.  What was sad to find is that his much loved library, a beautiful building, is now unused and has fallen in to disrepair, with boarded up windows.  I guess this is a sign of the times.  Grandad told Mum stories of walking up Crag Road with armfuls of books and sometimes it was so windy he would be surprised that he wouldn’t get blown over.  To see these buildings and walk these very streets was pretty amazing, to say the least.

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I knew from Mum’s trip in 1995 that a redevelopment that had occurred in the 60’s had demolished the street that Grandad lived on, but I saw lots of examples of the “back to backs” that Grandad lived in.

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What I didn’t realise until tonight when I was looking at a map Mum had of the area before the redevelopment (which I had brought on our trip but not taken to Windhill) was that Grandad’s road was just behind the church.  I had gone to the church and my instinct had taken me around the back to a t junction, which I turned left at and then drove that road, which was the one that Mossman Road (Grandad’s street) ran off of.  Not at all surprising, really.

However, the best and most important part of my trip to Shipley was yet to come.  Mum’s 1995 trip resulted in contact with the Windhill Memories group who were able to locate where Marie Crout (nee Ogilvie), Mum’s Grandmother was buried – Nab Wood Cemetary.  Mum was told she had been buried in a paupers grave and knew the cemetary was beatiful and well maintained, and in a letter I discovered recently that she wrote in 1996 but never sent (because it was too dribbly) her words were;-

“To have the location of my grandmother’s grave is much more than I ever believed possible.  Knowing that I now can actually visit this special place so far from my home to pay my respects quietens the soul.  To know that Marie’s final resting place is so beautiful and well mantained is a gift beyond description.  How can I thank you?  It warms my heart so much, Milton, to know that someone I have never even met has bothered to take the time to research a matter that may seem small to some, but is so important to others.  Your Memories Group is certainly an inspiration.”

I knew the name of the cemetary and even the grave number from Mum’s ancestry bible and so with my trusty Sat Nav and my hire car I took off and again, and easily located the cemetary.  Mum was right, it was beautiiful and very well maintained.

I knew that actually locating the grave would most likely prove more diffiult.  It turned out that there was no map to tell me where section T even was, let alone which graves were which.  This, my first sortie had located the cemetary, but it was Sunday evening and there was no-one around to assist in helping me find the grave’s location, so I just explored and looked out for the areas from around the early 1930’s.  I was drawn to one area in particular.  I took some photots.

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I went back to our room, happy that I had visited the cemetary and knowing what I needed to do tomorrow to hopefully locate the grave.  The other thing I wanted to do was get information about how I could go about getting a headstone or some other memorial erected, as this is what I know Mum has wanted to do since she had located the cemetary that Marie was buried in.  She never was able to do it.

So, this morning, I took off again for the cemetary.  The rememerance book room was open, so I went in there and could see that people had put rememberance passages in for loved ones for all kinds of years.  So, I knew this was a possibiity for me to do for Marie.  No-one else was around, so I called the office that manages the cemetary, and the man said there should be someone there who could help, and he would all them and tell them to come out and assist. A few minutes later, I was releived to see a man come out and he showed me where area T was.  I was so close with my photo above, just a bit further to the right was area T – again, not all that surprising.  Now, if I could just locate the general area of grave 203.  The man showed me that some of the headstones have the grave number on them, and I thought he would leave me to trying to locate the general area (knowing there was no head stone).  However, he helped me look.  We looked like we were getting closer and then numbers started jumping all over the place and not making a lot of sense.  I was starting to think this was as close as I would get, and I was telling him that I was happy just to know I was in the general area.  I had found 206, so knew I was close, then he yells out – “its here”.  I go down the other end of the section, the row in front of the row with grave 206 and there in front of me is a marker that reads “In Rememberance” with lots of flowers and other momentos.  You see, in all of this investigation, I discovered a Paupers Grave is a public grave, is not owned by anyone and there are multiple people buried in it.  So, no option of a headstone for any of the people buried in a public grave.  There is a Garden of Rememberance however, so I can follow up on having a plaque erectd on my return to Australia.  For now, I was overwhelmed.  Here I was in front of Marie’s Grave.  I cried tears of joy for finding it and tears of sadness for not being able to share it with Mum.  I talked to Marie – I told her that I was thankful that she had allowe her son to travel to Australia.  I told her that we know her story now, thanks to my Mum.  I told her that she would have loved my Mum – a stong, independant, fiesty woman.  I paid my respects in the way that Mum had dreamt of doing.  I did it all becaus of and for Mum.  I then talked to Mum and told her I hoped she knew I was here and that she was as happy as I was that I had found Marie’s grave.  I’m sure she was, but it’s not the same as being able to tell her and hear her response.

I took photos and I left some of Mum’s hair.  The other times that I have left Mum’s hair, it has been hard to get strands out of the rubber band that it is tied up with.  This time it pulled out easily, like something was saying that this is so right, lots of Mum’s hair needs to be left here.

In the last photo if you look closely in the purple flowers, you can see the strands of Mum’s hair.

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Mission Accomplished and I am so grateful.

 

 

A great man, a great bond, great memories, a great day and a precious moment in time.

Today I fulfilled a quiet goal of mine, all before the 1 year anniversary ticked over for the death of my Mum (on the 6th of July, which my family will be soon waking up to in Australia, but I won’t be living until the following day, due to currently being in Ireland).

Today I shook the hand, talked, laughed drank coffee with, introduced to my Husband and Son, joked, compared stories, had photos taken and hugged a man who was very dear to my Mum. His name is Sean Whelan, and he lives in Killnaboy, county Clare, Ireland.  I first met him in 1994, 21 years ago when I visited Ireland for the first time with Mum. Right at the beginning of her quest to seek for Susan Kelleher, her Great, Great Grandmother who came from County Clare and emigrated on a Bride Ship to Port Adelaide in 1855, we came to Corofin to visit the Clare Heritage Centre. We were told by locals that we needed to meet Sean, as his mother was a Kelleher. We did and him and my Mum hit it off straight away. I remember him as being warm, welcoming, cheeky, laughed a lot, and smoked a pipe.  I remember the three of us went to a pub in Lehinch, a great little seaside town and I snapped a great photo of Sean and Mum sharing a cheeky joke.

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We visited a cemetary where some Kellehers were buried and tried in vain to find the headstone which was 90 years old and in bad shape, and being protected by a bull in the surrounding paddock. We didn’t succeed, but Mum and I often recalled that night in the cemetary and running from the bull.

Mum went back to visit Ireland the following year, and met up with Sean again and they kept in contact over the years by writing letters, sending Christmas cards, and later, email.

When Mum died, I found Sean’s email address on her computer and I emailed him. He was very glad that I contacted him, but very sad to hear the news. His words – “another bright star gone from our world” – were lovely. He asked me to send him some photos. It took me a while to follow up, but when I did, it was to tell him we were coming to Ireland and hoped to meet up with him. He said he was glad to hear I had “survived my great loss” and that he should be around when we were here, and looked forward to chatting.

I hoped meeting up with him would all go well, but I really wasn’t sure. Without Mum there, who was the well read, enthusiastic learner that could share historical stories and anecdotes, what would we talk about? How would Jay and Bruce feel meeting him? Could I get them to understand how important this man was, even though I’d only met him once and we may not even be related? So many questions and I think it it was those questions that kept me from calling on our first day.

Today was the day. I called after breakfast, got directions to his house which I had to write down in fear of forgetting them. It was important that I “not go past the tree mile mark out of Corofin”, I looked for the “wind charger on the hill”, looked for the “sooner bungalow painted morone” and We should find it. So much more complicated than an address out in to google maps.

So we did and it was even better than I imagined. He was a gracious, welcoming host, was very kind to Jay, very happy to see us, and conversation flowed easily. He gave us detailed directions to the same graveyard and happily hugged me in a photo saying “maybe my cousin”. It was a fantastic day, and a very special moment in time. What a way for me to prepare for the upcoming 12 month anniversary of Mum’s death.

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Then em to top it off, we managed to follow his directions and found the graveyard  and the headstone of Sean’s Great Grandfather, Andrew Kelleher. The graveyard was much better maintained than 20 years ago, the headstone had been cleaned and so was easy to read and there was no bull.

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As my Brother recently said, our Mum is the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks Mum for introducing me to Sean all those years ago. Thanks for keeping and developing the bond and for giving me all the reasons in the world to be here on this amazing adventure and giving me the courage to contact him and arrange such a wonderful meeting.

As my family awake in SA to the 12 month anniversary of that dreadful day when Mum was taken from us, they will see this post and know that Mum’s soul will be resting peacefully knowing that even without her being physically with us any more, that Sean Whekan is still connected to us.

I love you Mum and I miss you more than words can say.

xxx

Ireland – I’ve been here before -Part 2

This morning I woke up in beautiful Corofin in pain. Emotionally and physically. Last night I got very stressed trying to post on Facebook with an almost useless internet connection and then this morning I woke up dreaming of horrible stressful situations back home ( to do with my Business) as well as having an excruciatingly sore neck. I had already woken up once to an annoying noise that I thought was running water, which turned out to be a bird tweeting outside our window, which immediately stopped as soon as I told my husband it was annoying me (was that you, Mum?). I was stressed and agitated the first time I woke up, so I knew this time I needed to wake up fully to get myself out of my state.  Took a while and a few tears, and so I decided it’s time for another post.

So, here I am in Corofin.  Our trip here from Galway was by hire car.  I’d carefully done the sums and worked out it was probably a bit cheaper and Much Much easier at this stage of the trip, rather than negotiating buses and trains. We took the coastal road and visited the Cliffs of Moher – still spectacular, but Boy what a difference in 21 years! So commercialised now. They have built a big visitors centre, and car parks and you have to pay €6 to visit the cliffs, which were streaming with people. There are now walkways with steps and barriers. No just driving there, parking in the small car park and walking out to the Cliff like Mum and I did. There were shops built in to the hill. I was stunned! I’m not sure the tower had even been renovated last time. Although the Cliffs were much more majestic than Sliabh Liab, Jay preferred the fact that it was more natural – we all did.

When we pulled in to Corofin, I recognised it immediately, although it has changed significantly. I saw the Hostel that Mum and I stayed in on the left hand side, I saw the general store that Mum and I caught the “Post Bus” to Ennis outside of (this was the mail van that had a few extra seats that you could hitch a cheap trip to Ennis on, if you were lucky).  I saw the Clare Heritage Centre which is where Mum’s Genealogy search began and then I saw the bridge that Mum loved. I was pretty emotional, but pretty calm and I managed to contain the tears.

Boy, it’s changed though. The first thing that stood out to me was the lack of pubs, especially those still open for business. There used to be 9 pubs, now there are four or five. I’ve been told by locals that people can’t afford to drink the way they used to, and they can’t afford to drive home any more.

We went to Bofey Quinns for dinner – by far the largest pub/restaurant in town.

After a lovely meal we headed down the road chasing the night of traditional music and storytelling that happens on a Thursday (how lucky are we to be here on the right night) but found a sign on the door saying it starts on the 9th of July. Of course, how Irish to advertise something as being in July but means actually not on the 2nd of July!

I had been looking at a photo of Mum I had in one of the bars in Corofin, and wanted to go back for a drink and to compare it with my memory and my photo. I was pretty sure that it was across and down the road from the Hostel, but there was no pub past the Hostel. So either my vague recollection of the location was wrong, or it wasn’t there any more.  So we decided to try another local bar – Macks’s bar. Unfortunately my useless connection to the internet won’t allow the inserting of relevant photos at this time, so I’ll just write the words for now.

We met some people from Holland on the way and then met some locals in the Bar. We heard many tall tales. One guy was telling us about the perfect crime at The Cliffs of Moher – how to get rid of an unwanted wife (or husband). You just had to make sure you left “no clues” and the best way to do this was to use gloves and to put “sock over your shoes” and then if they do catch up with you and want to handcuff you you tell them you’re “itchy” and then “the worst part is if they tell you to get down (pointed a gun at you) you slap your legs an say arthritis”. He had us all (including Jay) in hysterics. We met another guy who had a twitch and kept wanting to bestow his great genius upon Jay (which was pretty creepy for Jay but we could tell he was a genuine guy), another who was telling us about his trips to Australia and how daddy long legs should be left because they eat the red backs, and then Eugene with a very thick, well oiled accent was telling us that we needed to go in to Ennis on Saturday to see the Hurly so Jay could see the “speed of the ball”. We were having so much fun trying to understand each other, it was hilarious.

I got out the photo of Mum in the pub and it made its way around the bar and after much discussion, it was decided that it was Cahirs pub which unfortunately closed five or so years ago. One guy was not 100% convinced because he didn’t recognise the booth seat, and Eugene tried to tell us that was him in the background to which his mate replied “can’t be, you’ve never owned a white shirt!”.  It was confirmed that it was down the road and across from the Hostel, so I was right.

The next morning, with a thick head, I headed to the Clare Heritage Centre armed with Mum’s ancestry bible to see if there was anything extra they could tell me about Susan Kelleher, my GGG Grandmother who is the Susan refers to in the name of this Blog. Antionette was very impressed with the information that Mum had collated about Susan and Bridget after they emigrated and believes from the clues they have that they might be able to find the death of her parents and what has happened to her other siblings. They have a system where you pay a deposit and then they put multiple people on the search for up to a couple of weeks and if you are lucky at the end of it, you end up with a full dossier. Not a cheap exercise, but I decided it was worth it, knowing how thoroughly the online available information has been scoured by Mum and her dear friend Chris – an expert genealogist. Antionette loved seeing the photos I had in relation to Susan – a photo of her, the anchor and her grave, and I emailed them to her. She told me to look and see if we have her death certificate (surely I do in Mum’s files at home). She loved hearing my recollections of Corofin in 1994 and seeing the photos of Mum outside the Heritage Centre and in the pub and hearing that we think it still has a lovely vibe. She also loved the fact that I have Mum’s hair and will be leaving some in special places, including Corofin.  I paid my money and took a walk, and spread some of Mum’s hair through the streets of Corofin, smiling as I did it.

Then Jay and I headed off to explore Ennis and visited the Dysert O’Dea Castle and archeological sights. Ennis was much bigger than I remembered. Only vaguely familiar. That was a bit of a disappointment, but I am realising that my memories are nowhere near as vivid as they are precious.

I’m feeling much less stressed and in not quite so much pain. Need to go to breakfast and call Sean Whelen, a descendent of Kellehers that we believe might be a relative, that Mum and I met in 1994 and Mum has maintained contact with over the years. It would be great if we can see him before we leave Corofin. We are also heading to Milltown Malbay as there is a music festival on that we were told about in Galway (and given a hand written message to deliver).

I am very mindful that I am fast approaching the anniversary of Mum’s death. Today is the 4th, but we are a day behind Australia, which means I’ll probably live it for the next two days. I think this is part of what my painful awakening was about this morning.

All I can do is live through it and get to the other side. A side where I will start seeing the second anniversary of experiences without my Mum. In a way, I think that may be worse, and it scares me a bit.