Monday, September 10, 2007

The Mother of all The Leonards

Let me introduce you to my Grandmother, Mary Leonard (1879 - 1963).

My Father's Mother.... to me she was just "Gran."

Here you see a study of the face of a woman filled with a lifetime of wisdom and compassion for everyone.

In this photo she's sitting outside of her home at 42 Summerhill.... where she sat to get her fresh air in her declining years. I have so much to say about this woman that I don't know where to begin, so I'll just write a small bit here and add to it as I go along with this blog.

I suppose I should start by saying that my memories of her are all good memories for me personally. I can honestly say that I do not have one bad memory of her. She kept me enthralled with her stories, and I believe that my love of local history... of my city... came in no small part from her.

The night she died I lost not only my Gran, but a pal. She was wise, compassionate, and generous to a fault. I know it's the 'thing' to speak well of those who have passed on, but if you could speak to anyone around the area of Summerhill I do not believe that you'd meet one who would say a bad word about her. She was known by all, and indeed was the local unofficial midwife, delivering babies for the neighbours because back then it wasn't always easy to get doctors to call to a home to deliver a baby, and then also most babies were born at home.

She used to tell me stories of how her family came from "the shortgrass" (Kildare) to escape the ravages of the Great Famine, and stories that her mother told her of that time.... of seeing the bodies of women lying at the roadsides with babies at their breasts, with green juice running from their mouths because they had tried to survive by eating grass.

After she met my Grandfather they moved to a tenement house in Summerhill.... and that's where our story begins.... a story that I will continue as time permits.... but one that I want to tell.

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