Saturday 12 February 2011
She was a wonderful woman and the keystone of the Hennessy family around whom so many of my memories as a child are based. I remember Christmas at nana's house which for many years involved a Christmas tree which was a branch cut off the big evergreen tree outside stuck in a bucket of sand and of course the "blow-up" santa doll which hung in the kitchen (which since before I remember was far too full with holes to blow-up so had been stuffed with straw instead). I remember waking up early to watch Sesame street before nana would come downstairs and start cleaning out the fire. I remember collecting buckets of fresh milk from the milking parlour both to feed the baby calves and to drink ourselves and her showing us hows we could put our hands into the calves mouths which caused much fun between all the cousins as we chased each other around covered in slobber. Collecting the eggs was another fun job, with nana not letting the poor hens out of the house until she knew they'd laid, or having to run across the hay in the barn looking for new "secret" nests. Making toast by sticking slices of bread on a fork and holding it against the flames in the fire then drowning it in real butter, while of course wearing a pair of nana's knitted slippers!
I can thank nana as well for being one of the main reasons I have religion although when we were younger we were never too happy about that. Joanne and me and the cousins would all conveniently disappear when we knew it was time for the angelus or especially the rosary. The few times we lost track of time and were still upstairs playing when she called us to say it we'd all go as quiet as we could and pretend we hadn't heard her call in the hope the adults would think we weren't there. Nana taught us all to play draughts. When we were young we thought it was great beating her all the time until we got a little older and we suddenly realised she had been going easy on us because now we couldn't ever win! Or how to amuse us on wet days she's sit us at the table and give us the knife with the black handle (the one she always used) to play a silly game where we would ask a ridiculous question like "Who here is the biggest baby?", then spin the knife and get super excited and laugh at whoever it stopped on.
As I got older I appreciated nana for different reasons. One story from a few years ago that I love was a day we were doing a crossword (bear in mind that I had NEVER EVER heard nana swear). Mom called out the clues and we all answered. Anyway it came to a clue, a word starting with 'f' and it was 'what does the umpire shout in a tennis match when the ball goes off the court?'. We all sat there for a second thinking when without any warning nana looks up from her knitting and says "fuck". We sat in stunned silence for a second before bursting into uncontrollable laughter which left us all with tears down our cheeks from laughing so much.
As nana got older I realised what a strong woman she was. She had lived a tough life but she never never complained. I loved spending time with her even if crosswords and the six-one news weren't the most exciting things to do. Nana was a very wise woman and she often often told me that travel was the best education I could get along with other things, which I guess is one of the reasons I am in Korea now. When I told her about my plans to go to Korea she said wasn't I great and that she'd do the same thing if she was my age again. She was always open minded to change even new technology and when I explained skype she didn't bat an eyelid but simply wondered what they'd come up with next. She also warned me not to bring home a foreign man. Then obviously she thought about it for a second because she said "Ah sure Lisa, they might be better than the Irish ones" which we both had a laugh about.
She was forever thankful and hated being a 'burden' on anyone as she put it herself. So I know she is happier now. I will always remember saying bye to her after the last night I stayed there just before I left for Korea when she took my hand as I hugged her and gave her a kiss goodbye and said that I was a good girl and that she was proud of me. So for all those memories and so many more I love her. May she rest in peace.