January 29 means just one thing to me and that’s Mother’s birthday. She was born in 1921 and had a grand total of eighty eight birthdays.
She grew up on a farm in Co. Meath and adored nature more than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve been thinking about her a lot today and was thrilled to see that the first daffodil in my garden bloomed forth over night to join the snowdrops which were always such a symbol of her birthday.
I loved hearing stories about her youth and especially how she and her big brother spent endless hours out riding their ponies. They were inseparable and shared all sorts of passions, including poetry. She used to tell me of how when they were supposed to be going to sleep, they would be whispering the lines of poems to each other through their open bedroom doors. This is one of the verses that she would burst into from those days:
When sorrows come sobbing
To clutch at the breast,
When trouble comes robbing
The heart at its rest,
When cash columns addle
The brain as they may:
Swing into the saddle,
To horse and away!
To horse and away
To the heart of the fray!
Fling care to the Devil for one merry day!
( From Galloping Shoes: Verses by Will. H. Ogilvie, 1922)
It wasn’t until after she died that I found this photograph from her childhood. It was tiny and the fact that it was a picture of Mother and her brother on horseback with their parents in the frame only revealed itself when I managed to enlarge it. I’d say Mother was about seven or eight when it was taken.
It’s a photograph that makes me smile and hope that if by some chance there is a heaven that Mother has been able to spend today running in the woods among the snowdrops and riding her beloved Jock with her big brother as they recite every line of poetry they ever knew.