Most folk tend to write nice things about their parents after their death, I thought I’d write about my mother, Doris whilst she is still alive. Occasionally I get asked questions like why I like to break rules all the time and why do I call my mother Doris and not mum. There is a reason for both and both are connected.
Doris, my biological mother fell pregnant with my twin sis and I out of wedlock in ‘60/61 and naturally being a very conservative Christian community it was a scandal to be pregnant and unmarried but rather than marry our biological father Sam McKeown, Doris chose not to marry but spent her entire term sixty miles from home, had us in Belfast and gave us up for long term fostering. She went back to Kilkeel after the birth and nothing was said about ‘her time away’, but everyone knew..
To cut a long story short, sis and I went looking for her when we turned 18/19 and then we went looking for our biological father as well and this is why I don’t call her mother, because she didn’t actually raise us. However, it’s been 30 odd years since we both found her and she’s getting on now (so am I!) so this is the Doris I know.
Without doubt she can be annoying, she will sit on the phone for an hour and I have no idea what she is saying because I have drifted off, it’s usually some story about getting some gravel spread over the track to her house, her house is on a dirt track in the middle of nowhere. However despite the fact that she can talk the hind leg off a donkey, she does have some endearing qualities as well, qualities I hope I have inherited, for example, she refused to marry Sam, our natural father and you may not understand just how incredibly brave this was of her, in 1960’s Ireland it was like the biggest sin to have a child out of wedlock, she would have come under enormous pressure from her family and the tightknit community as well to marry Sam but she refused and the principal reason was because she didn’t love him, actually it turns out he was quite a shit and she was wise not to but to be with child and not married in 1960’s Ireland was a huge sin and I’m sure even the local minister would have been putting pressure to marry Sam. However she refused and wanted to hold out for true love and incredibly bravely had both my twin sis and I out of wedlock and then bravely gave us up for long term fostering.
So why not adoption rather than fostering you ask, well, principally because she had faith that one day she would meet a man that she would be proud to call her husband and then she would come get us and re-unite the family. And so she and Sam went their separate ways and over the years there were various suitors but no-one lite her fire, no-one made her feel like this was the one and time passed, she settled into community life and the church became her life. Then three years ago she attended church at the glorious old age of 81 and there were some strange men there, they were part of a group called The Mourne Men (the Mourne’s being the range of mountains in Ireland) and they were all retired but spent their time going around local churches helping out the members with jobs that they couldn’t manage themselves like cutting hedges, putting up shelves, fixing roofs, painting and decorating and generally improving the lives of the parishioners. So Doris was at church that day and she looked across the group of men standing at the front of the church offering their services for free and her eyes met Bob and it was thunderbolt city. She knew right away that this was the man for her and within six months they were married.
Since then they have been to London twice and been to Scotland and last year they made the trip to Australia for a wedding and explore, it was massively hot there and folk were falling over and dying but not Doris (83) and Bob (79), they are made of sterner stuff and then they came back home to one of Irelands worse snow storms with the country closed down. They were nonplussed. They have a combined age of 162 and they didn’t care or fret, they just got on with things and I asked her about that, she said it didn’t matter as she had Bob and that’s all she needed, come rain or sunshine she didn’t care, she had Bob and that’s all that mattered.
So, what lesson and qualities have I inherited from Doris, well, the courage to give two fingers to any rules and the balls to go plough my own furrow, the courage to tackle anything and the wiliness not to settle for second best and stuff what the rest of the world thinks, and the wonderful habit of pitching up at Heathrow airport and going off on adventures when everyone else thinks you should be settling down to a quiet life. And probably the most important lesson I have learnt from Doris, is that no matter how long you wait, you will eventually find true love and be happy. Thank you Doris. Now if I could just get you to stop talking about the friggin gravel on your road..
P.S. her last suitor had a big argument with her when she wouldn’t date him and stormed off shouting “you’ll never find someone as good as me”. She rang him up after getting married to Bob and told him he was wrong and cackled down the phone at him. And you lot wonder why I am mischievous..