Sunday, July 25, 2010

Granny Sheeran and the Smarties

In my family it is considered very important to remember and acknowledge the anniversaries of the death of family members. All through my childhood I remember going to Mass as a family on whatever day marked the death of one of my grandparents. My Dad's father died before Dad even met my mum. But each of us kids know the details of the story of the day of his death, the unexpected trip home my Dad made on the spur of the moment to stay in his family home for the night, being woken in the middle of the night to run for the priest, running through the dark, cold January night with only one shoe on. I feel like I was there. I feel the emotion every time my Dad retells the story. I never met my Grandad Sheeran but there is a connection through the story telling that keeps me bonded to him.

Today marks the death of my Dad's mother. I rang home and spoke to my Dad today and he started the familiar story telling. Year after year on this day we retell the same story. Not of the story of the day of her death but of my relationship with her. I was only young when she died but I have heard the story of the box of Smarties so many times that it plays in my head like a clip from an old movie. I do not know if I truly have a memory of her or if the story telling has placed it there.

I waited at the front window of our house looking out for my Granny Sheeran to join us for Sunday dinner. There would be a knock on the window and a box of Smarties would be waving at me through the glass. My Mum was busy in the kitchen cooking and preparing a big family roast dinner. I, being young, would have wanted to eat the sweets before my lunch. This won Granny squeals of excitement and the pleasure of breaking rules that is the right of a grandparent. It also caused a minor flurry of irritation to my Mum who knew I would not eat properly if I was full of chocolate.

All too soon my Granny was gone. How many meals were actually disrupted when you look at the big picture? Were the memories worth it? Even my Mum made sure to use this story as an example to me when I became a mother myself. She told me not to sweat the small stuff. To enjoy the pleasure that Grandparents bring.

Each year this story is retold to me by my Dad. It makes me stop to appreciate a little bit of my history. I don't know if in other families it is normal to remember the dates of these anniversaries? Do you mark them in your calendar? Do you ring home? Do you have the same stories told and retold?

Is it an Irish thing?

Or just a Sheeran one....

8 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. In my family, I have noticed we talk about the stories when gathered for a funeral or family reunion. I just recently attended the funeral of an aunt. While my mother and I were driving to the mother told stories of others who had gone before this aunt. I don't necessarily mark the calendar with such dates...they seem to be forever in my memories. Generally a few days prior to the anniversary of their death, I will begin to think of and remember certain things about that individual more often than I normally do. It usually dawns on me on the anniversary why the memories have become more frequent and emotional ~ almost as if my mind is preparing me for the day itself.

  2. I am not sure if it is just an Irish thing but my mum is Irish and does the same... My mum tells stories about her dad, I cannot remember him, and I never knew my grandparents on my dads side .. but unfortunately no one around to tell stories of them, my dads family have all passed away, including my dad.. who passed 43 years ago when I was 10. I remember my grandmother on my mums side. But we don't mark the day on the calendar , maybe not a close knit family. We have the anniversary of my sisters passing at the weekend, but we don't put that on the calendar either, but we won't forget as it is my mum's and my mother-in-laws birthday.

  3. You know, I've thought about this a few times. I feel badly if I don't "remember" the date that someone special died in our family, BUT then I feel equally as bad if I do remember and bring it up! I tend to try and remember the person's birthday and mention it to loved ones, and there are usually some stories that follow.

  4. It is a tradition also in my culture to remember the anniversary of someone's death. They hold these huge vigils, but they are more like parties. There is food and chatting. You wouldn't really even think it's for someone's death. It's more of a celebration of their life.

  5. Oh, Gina. Lovely story! It reminds me of the one that's retold to me again and again about my "Aunt Ruth" (not my aunt, but the woman who would take care of me in England). To this day, I still have the doll she gave me, and a distinctly clear memory (I was only 3 when we left) of her wearing a wrinkled pink paper hat on Boxing Day.

    But we don't remember the days of death of anyone in our family. I couldn't give you a date for a single one, except my grandmother's, but that was because I remember listening to the first day of the Iraq invasion on the radio.

  6. Great memories Gina... seems like along with the memory of the death, come memories of the life. It's a beautiful tradition! A wonderful way to remember and share with loved ones who know the story and those little ones just learning the story. Irish? Yes, I believe so... Sheeran... Yes, and I hope it continues for your family for a long time to come!

  7. I love your family tradition! I think it is great to pass the loving memories of a family member to your children and grandchildren. In America, and in my family, we remember the date, maybe make a phone call but it is kind of sad to me when we talk. I like the idea of remembering the loved one fondly, telling the stories over and over.
    Funny when you mentioned the smarties because my Dad always has "lifesavers" candy for our kids. They love it and look forward to it. They always think of Papa when they see lifesavers. Love that.


  8. I truly believe that those we love are never truly gone if we cherish memories of them in our hearts.

    We mark the dates our our loved ones' passings on our calendars. My mom always did this, and I do now. And there's usually phone calls and other remembrances of those we've lost. Usually these conversations are pretty joyful -- even funny -- because we tend to focus on the lives they lives, the fun memories we have, rather than on their death.

    "All too soon my Granny was gone. How many meals were actually disrupted when you look at the big picture? Were the memories worth it? Even my Mum made sure to use this story as an example to me when I became a mother myself. She told me not to sweat the small stuff. To enjoy the pleasure that Grandparents bring." -- I love this...what a wonderful life lesson from both your mom and grandmother!