My mother passed away quietly today attended by four of her seven children. She joins her husband Paddy who passed away ten years ago, much to her annoyance. She felt that she should have gone first.
She was 89 years old in October and lived what can only be called a full life. She leaves behind on the planet seven children, 20 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren so far.
A lot will be said about Maura by others in the days and weeks to come. I want to take this opportunity to share some words from Maura directly. Back in 1998 when I was researching my masters degree I was developing an interview system and used members of my family for practice until I had it road tested for full roll out. Sometimes the stream of speech may seem a little random and disjointed, but these are real words as spoken. People often do not speak in a linear manner so there are some strange seeming jumps from topic to topic.
I asked Maura a question about how she behaves in an environmental manner and she replied as follows:
What do I do? Well, I suppose my big thing is I don’t waste…..since I learned about compost I….you know I don’t waste vegetables. I try to return to the earth what it, em, what belongs to it. I have a guilt complex about plastic bags. I don’t know what to do about it, they’re just dished out everywhere. I really think if we were all made to pay for the plastic bags, or if we were made to bring our own baskets it would save an awful lot of pollution. We have this thing [green box recycling pickup] where they come once a week and there’s things that go into it. But if there are any old clothes there is a woman up the road now that will take anything; old bags, old clothes, and they are ground down into making mats for somebody out in the missions in Africa. So that’s another thing I’m hoping to do. But I suppose, the environment, I em, I hope I haven’t done anything consciously to destroy it. But then of course maybe I have. Maybe we should all be looking at washing powders going into the water…..
Maura got her wish on the Plastic Bag issue when the Irish Government introduced a levy on plastic bags in 2002. Now we all bring our shopping bags or baskets to the shops as she wanted.
Later I asked a question about the things that define people and this is Maura’s answer:
Cycling I suppose. I started off thinking I’d love to act because I was interested in drama but I know from my years of experience now that I would have made a damn good teacher. But people didn’t go back to work [in Ireland women had to give up their jobs when they married]. But I think through my interest in drama and through my ability to teach, I think I can be proud of the family I brought up. I think they would be my….identity. But as against that there is me. I mean, I don’t want to be a slave thing. I always wanted to do things, get around. I wouldn’t have had so much opportunity I suppose, I loved going off to Kilkee and I loved the oul’ holiday because it was a break in routine. I did enjoy all the sewing, it was creative. I suppose I’m….I like the creativity.
I think I like, I like somebody to say they’d like to come for a meal [One of her sons] there last week said can I come for a meal and I was just going to do the ordinary, a run of the mill dinner, throw on the chops. Ah, it’s nice to do something a little different, which is creativity. I suppose in that way, and that’s why I’m not doing as much painting [Art] as I should. I suppose I should get more and more absorbed in the painting. I spend a lot of time reading and thinking I’ll do it, and I will, because I am learning all the time. But I see me as getting a buzz standing in a spot that I’ve walked or cycled to, and looking at a lovely scene. I know that music is beautiful and I know that drama… and I don’t think anything can match a God given scene, a landscape with the glisten on the water maybe, or the colours on a mountain and especially if you’ve had to achive something to get there.