Courage and Bravery ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 153

I am often baffled by people’s courage and bravery and  my mother’s fortitude in coping with very significant physical problems in the five years before her death is a typical example. Just a few months before she died, I wrote a poem about her and the last three lines were as follows:

You’ve kept some dreams and memories locked away

Inside your heart; the key to your courage

And optimism; the seed beneath the clay.

A few months after she died I came across a composition on Bravery  that she had written, at the tender age of 13, in 1934.  It was like a key that shed light on her courage that I had admired so much. This is what she wrote in her still childish writing:


Bravery is not merely a great gift, as many people imagine. One of the greatest forms of bravery is conquering fear. To set one’s teeth and say: ‘I will be brave,’ whether it is a child who is afraid of the dark, or a soldier about to risk his life.

The child or the soldier who knows no fear is not half as brave as the one who is in mortal fear and yet conquers it.

Some people are naturally courageous, while others are timid. One of the most cowardly things for a human to do is for the naturally brave to mock the naturally timid. Generally one does not recognise the nature of the other, and so this occurs thousands of times a day to the misery of the timid victim.

Bravery is seen as much, if not more, in women than men, though it is generally not recognised.

Many animals are very brave, especially intelligent ones like horses and dogs, and many stories have been written and sung about them. Horses have galloped for aeons through every sort of peril to save their master or mistress. It might be a forest fire, or perhaps through gunfire and shells.  ‘Canons to the right of them, canons to the left of them, rode the six hundred.’ The horses as well as the men must have been courageous and faithful to the core in this dreadful charge.

There is no one who has not an opportunity for bravery nearly every day of their life, and it is the insignificant and uncomplaining folk who are generally braver than the people who go about bragging of all the deeds they have done.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Mother’s death and I feel incredibly fortunate to have so many of her writings ~ both serious and highly humorous ~ to keep me thinking, laughing and loving.

Mother and Tiffin in the 1980s.
Mother and Tiffin
in the 1980s.