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You can never go back

Google is great, isn't it? I mean to say if you happen to be in bed, laid low by a bad flu and you are not much in the mood for reading because your mind is hopping around  in a state of delerium from all the paracetamol you've piled into yourself, you can always press buttons on your laptop and float around Google for a few hours. I don't know why but I wanted to try and find out the weather in the city of Cork, Ireland on the day I was born. Nothing came up. Then I googled news of what happened on the day and again, nothing! I gave up after an advertisement exploded onto the screen offering to tell me if I paid forty euro for the honour. No thanks.

I can therefore surmise that on the day I was born nothing much happened at all. Which is probably a good thing because I am sure my mother had enough to think about and besides, I am also confident that my father had to go to work as he always did, on his bicycle and earn the money to feed us all. There was no big deal with baby showers and video tapes and champagne. I can guarantee that. No, my entry into the world came on a quiet day in Cork city without any fanfare although I do recall my mother recounting over the years the words of the doctor who assisted me into the world, as something on the lines that I, Mary P. McCarthy,  'was the most beautiful baby' he had ever delivered in his entire career! It was not until years later, when I had my own children that I came to the conclusion that most doctors worth their salt  are prone to make these memorable statements.

Not a million years ago but long enough ago for it to seem so I took my mother back to Cork to retrace the broken map we had left behind. Unfortunately there was not much left to remind us. The map was not legible, the years had cracked the yellowed streets with erratic, meaningless lines. Jagged corners ran into cul-de-sacs.  

My mother's sister was living in a nursing home and the visit was filled with sadness and tears as my Aunt did not know or remember either of us. I then drove my mother to her childhood house only to find that it was in the process of being demolished. The Celtic Tiger took care of that,  our history lost even in the buildings. I took a photograph of Mum standing outside on the street where her home used to be and where the crooked blue cobalt walls and torn wallpaper of the living room were the only reminders that a family had once lived within the crumbling stone. I remember my mother trying to smile, desperately attempting to put on a brave gay face, but I knew she was heartbroken. She never looked back.

It is not easy or perhaps the right thing to do to go back to where you came from. Does it really actually make any difference to who  or what you've become? When people ask me where I come from, my response is that I come from everywhere. And I believe this to be true. I liken my life to a stew, a good stew at that, filled with many ingredients and inspirations. As my mother used to say, a good stew is a little of everything and not too much of anything.

I decided a long time ago to never look back until  Google told me that nothing happened the day I was born and so what, big deal,  life just keeps on going regardless, just as it always did. One year as good or bad as the next one. One more crooked line that eventually leads us nowhere.

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I love how you describe Life

I love how you describe Life like a good stew--I totally agree with you on that, Mary. It's what one puts into it to thicken or spice it up to liven an otherwise ordinary stew. As for going back to one's beginnings, it's never the same--places change and grow as we all do. My Mom always told us we have our memories tucked into our hearts  and it goes wherever we go, but Life moves onwards. Thank you for sharing, Mary.


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carrying our memories

Glad you liked the stew analogy, Judee! I have to say that stew is one of my favourite meals at this time of year. You can't beat a good stew. m

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Mary, Many years ago, I


Many years ago, I brought my children back to my hometown and pulled up to my home. It was run down and shabby. It was a shock to see it after years of imaging that he had stayed exactly as I remembered.

The little footbridge that was named for my family had just been torn down.

I prefer to recall my childhood through memories. 

Lovely piece. Hope you are feeling better soon.


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I must admit I did take my

I must admit I did take my boys back to the house of childhood that my parents chose as their circumstances improved, Annette, and where my fondest memories lay and it was still beautiful and I resented the people who lived there. It was beside a river with many trees where I had etched my name into the bark when I was innocent and young. My initials were still there and I remember the boys running their fingers over my name. The paths I walked were as I had walked on them and the river still flowed in the same manner, black and moody. I wished then that I could walk through the door and see my mother and father standing their to welcome us in the hall, a delicious aroma emanating from the kitchen and a rapturous fire crackling in the hearth. It was difficult to walk away from that, I can tell you. This is when you realise that everything is temporary in life. Even the place you call home. mx

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Ah, memories...

Thanks, Mary, for helping us go back in memory to our childhood homes and feel the longing for the parents who made the homes warm with love.  The memories stay even after the changes take place.  That mental archive is a rich and fragrant stew.