I’ve written about my family and their Irish tempers but I haven’t mentioned their courage. My family, and I believe most Irish families, are really brave! And Mama was shockingly brave considering she was a tiny woman. She is a testament to the courage of Irish women everywhere and I’m terribly proud of her! Mama is pictured below with her mother (Nana) and her sister, Mary.
Mama never backed down when she felt that standing her ground was important. She wasn’t one to pick a fight and she instantly forgave people (even those I’d have held a grudge against) but she was a tough cookie! I’m thrilled to say I’ve inherited a lot of her spunk.
A perfect example of how tough Mama was happened long before I was born. Daddy worked the midnight shift and Mama was home with my three oldest brothers. The oldest was only 9 at the time. My parents had a farmhouse not very close to any neighbors but this was in the 1930’s so the words “home invasion” weren’t even in the lexicon.
It was a very hot night in the middle of summer when the burglar came to call. Daddy was at work and my brothers were all upstairs in bed. Mama had put off doing the dishes until after dark. And she waited until long after. It was nearly midnight but still hot and humid. She decided to do the dishes without turning on the kitchen light. There was a bright moon and there wasn’t too much to wash.
The sink faced a wall with a large window on the opposite wall. Naturally the window was open because of the heat. As she washed the dishes Mama suddenly saw the shadow of a large man who was trying to climb through the window! Now most women, alone in a house with three small children, far from neighbors would have panicked. Not Mama.
She reached over and grabbed her cast iron skillet. I mentioned that Mama was a small woman but I need to clarify. She was itty-bitty. She was about 5 feet tall in her prime and only weighed 90 some odd pounds.
That didn’t give her a moment’s pause. She lifted that skillet and spun around and hurled it at the man just as he was nearly in the kitchen! The heavy cast iron caught him right in the forehead and he reeled back, falling back through the window.
Instead of running the opposite way Mama ran to the window, scooping up the skillet from the floor, and looked out. The man was staggering away holding his head which was bleeding profusely. Once Mama had determined he wasn’t going to try to climb back in she ran and called upstairs to my oldest brother to watch his little brothers
Mama quickly slipped on a dress and (I can’t believe how brave she was) got a few coins and walked to the phone booth at the end of the road to call the police! Let me say that again. She walked out into the night with a burglar in the area and called the police.
The man was caught when he went to the hospital in town for his very badly damaged cranium. He got quite a few stitches and 5 years in jail. Mama went back home and, after the police had left, finished the dishes.
She may have been the size of a leprechaun but she had a giant’s share of fighting Irish spirit!