Thursday, 1 January 2009

The Grandmother Memory.

This is a wordy post. I apologise. But it's something I have wanted to share with you for sometime. 

I believe in the Grandmother memory. The possibility of 'just knowing' things. Memories that we inherit from our Grandmother's Grandmother's. It explains the things I cannot explain. The things I have always just known. And I regret the word of mouth knowledge I have missed out on. My father's mother died before I was born, my mother's when I was a teenager and running a house was a distant speck on my horizon.
I often think about what it must have been like for my ancestral mothers, the hours they spent in their kitchens among the quiet sounds of running water, the breaking of an egg, kneading bread. I imagine a world scented with the strange and wonderful smells of orange peel, roses, spices and herbs. I think about the seasonal year, the turning seasons, the tasks, the making, the baking, the preserving. They were preserving their lives in each of those daily offerings. From their morning ablutions, to their night time prayers and every small task throughout their day. These women lived with routine and ritual their constant companions.

I do have one thing though. I have my Nana's notebooks. Her Household Book and her book of collected recipe's. I hadn't known of these when I started my own book of collected recipes about six or seven years ago. When I mentioned it to my Mum she produced these gems. I couldn't believe it! It was amazing to read her so familiar handwriting, to read recipes I knew well and associated with her, with family gatherings in Nana and Grandad's house, gatherings that are long distant childhood memories now.

Her household book is filled with things like paint codes from different rooms of the house, cooking temperatures in fahrenheit and centigrade, quantities of food for diferent numbers of people, E numbers, recipe for playdough, home cures for ailments, knitting needle sizes, things borrowed and from whom, phone numbers, spellings. My favourite though is her list of things to do in the week before Christmas. It makes me realise how some things don't change, although her list is a lot more extensive than mine!

I adore this little paragraph, both for it's humour and because it is such a sweet reminder of my grandparents.

"If when cutting up meat there is no room in the fridge, make sure that parcel of turkey etc is clearly labelled so it won't be put out as refuse! as in - 1976".

At this point I would like to say a huge grateful thank you to my Mum, for she is now the Grandmother. And she has taken the role to a whole new height. Far beyond what any of her ancestral mother's could ever have imagined. She is a shining star example to me and my daughter. She is an amazing role model to have. I am so grateful to have this. 

I like to think that each of us in our own way are recording a little piece of family history for our daughter's and their daughter's. It means so much to me that I am aware of this. That this child paced time in my life will have meaning to someone in the future. Maybe even has meaning now. That we are creating family traditions of our own, to be passed on and learned from. 
We are a link in the chain. All of us. And isn't that incredible!


Paddy said...

Being aware of all that is a major first step.

marty, sharon and pearl said...

this is so lovely. the weird thing is that my mum only told me a few years ago that her mum would have loved to be a home ec teacher (something that i became way back). she also said she loved making jams and particularly lemon curd, something which i love too and have sold in farmers markets and given as gifts at my wedding. i know my grandmother looks after me every second of the day.

Sara said...

I believe in Grandmother Memory too, although I never knew that was the name for it. It's funny but it is when I am in the kitchen too that I get waves of my Grandma come to me. Thank you for sharing.

Deborah said...

ciara that was truly lovely...your grandmothers would have been very proud of you,I'm sure.xx

Deirdre said...

That is so true, it so important to remember and talk about our grandmothers, if we, their grandaughters, don't remember them who will.
Thanks for those nice comments Ciara, just nice to know.