Happy Grandfather’s Day!

Grandpa Teddy


When my husband, Teddy, sent me an email from Oklahoma with a photo of a handwritten note, I thought, ‘here we go, he has been pretending to be Sean Connery again’. The lovely server had asked him about his rings. He has a large silver and turquoise ring and a Celtic gold one. No doubt he had a few refreshments by then but showed her my photograph, explained that I was part native and that we were married for 35 years.

The silver ring was just a lucky gift when we were browsing a shop selling Native American goods in Rice Village, Houston. Some very rich guy had ordered a custom made silver and turquoise for his larger than average fingers. After trying it one, he decided he wanted something even more ostentatious. The original ring was being sold cheap until another werewolf popped in. Teddy’s has big hands but also large knuckles from arthritis that started in his 30’s. (Rather suspiciously he is growing werewolf hair on his shoulders…)

The gold ring was his 40th birthday present from me. By that stage he had two wedding rings because of the increasing knuckle size. I took those plus some of his granny’s rings to a goldsmith and chose a Celtic interwoven pattern from a book of sketches. He loved it! As time went by the knuckles became more inflamed and it didn’t fit again. About two years ago we took a chance with a local jeweler who increased it by expanding the pattern with more gold. It was fantastic!

We were not fortunate enough to spawn although we always wondered about creating some crazy mutant werewolf…🐺 He is still in Oklahoma for Father’s Day but there was a card in his suitcase signed by Toffee, our cat, Katniss and her new kitten (that’s another story), the armadillos, the possums, the skunks, the raccoons and cicadas. Teddy has been a fabulous Daddy to all our pussycats and clearly he would have made a lovely grandfather…

Love Nana Bunny

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!

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Bebe, the doll from Daddy

Surely little Kerry couldn't be naughty?

Surely little Kerry couldn’t be naughty?

It’s time to lighten the mood, eh? The baby doll that my charismatic father sent me was called Bebe by me because I couldn’t pronounce Baby. Don’t laugh but I had some trouble with language as a child. It took me a while to speak – I would point at things that I wanted and just say, ‘mmmm’ very adamantly. My Nana and mum were very worried about this and tried everything to get me to speak properly. I was also unable to say my own name and I was Keggy for a while. Then…apparently I came out with a sentence and never stopped.

Bebe was the bane of my mum’s life. It was incredibly lifelike and quite heavy. I would insist that I would be able to carry Bebe for the whole trip and then start sobbing about how heavy she was. My mum would exasperatedly take Bebe and on one funny occasion shoved her under arm like a sack of potatoes. A lady on the bus started tutting and telling my mum that was no way to hold a baby – I got the death stare…

Despite the angst of the arrival of the doll both my Nana and Mum adored her. They knitted and crocheted delicate layettes of clothes for her – perhaps it was a way of recreating how my birth and arrival could have been? I cared for Bebe too but was obsessed with stripping all my dolls naked and shoving them in the closet. This incensed my loving care-givers for some reason – it’s just a doll!!!

I had another slightly more worrying habit that meant that I was only allowed plastic scissors until I was at high school. SCISSORS – I love them! My first felony was to steal the dressmaking shears and create a doll’s outfit out of my mother’s last glamorous negligee from the States. The criminal activity continued and I particularly loved cutting my doll’s hair. They tried to address this by getting me a Tressie doll (it had extending hair) and a Clairol doll sent from New York. None of it worked.

One day I was sitting on the stairs with Bebe and a pair of scissors in my hand. I just couldn’t control the urge – Kerry Scissor Hands. I snipped her beautiful blonde hair into a punk mess and it felt so cathartic until it didn’t… ‘What had I done’, I thought ‘and what do I do with the evidence?’ In my panic I thought the sensible action was to run up the stairs, open the bedroom window and throw the hair out. My Nana, unfortunately, was hanging out the sheets when she was showered with Bebe hair…

Well, I will leave it to your imagination what happened next. Let’s just say that I was treated like one of the torturers at Abu Graib – castigated from society, all scissors taken out of my reach and was convinced I would go to toy hell. Heck, this has given me such a laugh. RIP Bebe.

Nana went to Heaven

Kerry_Trish_Nana

Nana with Kerry and a new cousin

I adored Nana, my maternal grandmother. After my parent’s marriage dissipated, my mother and I stayed in Nana’s apartment, then house, in Glasgow. In another blog ‘the day I knew I could write’, I mentioned that I had written a disturbing tale of a grandmother dying in a rocking chair when I was about 7 years old. Nana had a stroke then and I was just working through my anxiety about the prospect of her death. She was a strong, stabilizing influence on me when my mother was heading towards a severe mental breakdown when I was around 10 years old. My mother had many rounds of electric shock treatment and emerged a broken dove from psychiatric hospital. From then she went onto disability for the rest of her life.

A few months before my Nana’s death when I was 13 years old and she was 79, she was unwell and lying in bed during the daytime. I went into the garden and picked a small bouquet of red and white flowers and put them in a vase. As I entered her bedroom, she screamed to my mum, Kathleen, to take the flowers away. I didn’t realize that my very superstitious Irish grandmother thought that red and white flowers were a warning of death. To this day, I will not receive or give a red and white bouquet. This superstition is very old and reflects red blood and white bandages just like a Barber’s pole. In the past, Barbers often acted as part-time medics and their red and white pole indicated that you go there for medical help much like the green sign for pharmacies.

I am very intuitive and occasionally psychic. Back then I didn’t realize that I can smell and/or sense cancer. Unknown to me, and probably the rest of the family, Nana was dying of lung cancer. As a mature 13 year old, I started removing myself emotionally from my Nana. I still behaved the same but I was holding back some of my very strong affection and love just to protect myself. My life, as I predicted, was going to fall apart after my Nana’s death and quite spectacularly. I am certain that she sensed my withdrawal but I felt that she also withdrew from me – perhaps because I was unable to hide my pity or the truth in my child’s eyes. Everyone else, my mother and all her siblings seemed in denial about how soon she would die.

Just before she died, she asked for me to sit with her and I think we settled our uneasiness. I could not understand why she was so afraid of death, as a life-long Roman Catholic, and she was frightened of my pragmatic acceptance. Her children were terribly upset, naturally, when her death came. In those days the open coffin was kept in her bedroom so that friends and family could pray over the body. It settled me to see her dead body and kiss her goodbye as it was no longer her. My aunt was upset that the mortician had put too much make-up on her but when you are dead, you’re dead. I cried before she died and never did so again. At the funeral I was the only one who was tearless yet I had the most to lose from her death.

For years and up until this day, I have dreams that she has been alive all this time and I had forgotten about her. I feel great guilt and remorse in the dreams but I think I enjoy seeing her come to life just one more time. For some unknown reason I have always accepted death as part of the great circle of life and am not afraid – sometimes I long for it.