Who do you think of on Mother’s Day?
This is not my Mum or my Nan (although I do remember them too!). She is my Great Granny.
She was born in 1883, was 70 when I was born and died at the grand old age of 98. She always looked the same to me – a very old lady with grey permed hair. 70 year olds don’t look like that these days! When I was little I would visit her and sleep in the same big double bed and she would tell me wonderful stories of when she was a girl – oh how I wish I had listened a bit more closely! Having such clear memories of someone who was born not just in the last century but the one before is great (even though it singles me out as being a bit ancient too!) and I can pass some of those stories on to my grandchildren.
Mothering Sunday always brings her to mind. Granny Gibb was one of 13 children and was born in a mining village in Scotland. She went into service at the age of 12 – not unusual then - working for a local Laird in the ‘Big’ house. The tradition of Mothering Sunday has its roots in a time when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mother and other family servants – it was often the only time that whole families could gather together. For children and young people who were ‘in service’ it was a day when they could visit their families. The children would pick wild flowers on the way to place in church or give to their mothers – this later evolved into the tradition of Mothering Sunday and giving gifts to mothers.
Granny Gibb used to talk about this (although I think she would be shocked at the commercialisation of Mother’s Day now!) and going home with her sister Agnes (“oor Ag”) who was a year older. If they were lucky they got a lift in a horse and cart or they would walk the several miles to their Mother’s house.
These days my visits from my children will come in the form of texts, emails and Skype (although I always get lovely cards from good old traditional Royal Mail!) With 5 children and stepchildren and numerous grandchildren scattered around I appreciate all the contact I am able to have with them in this modern technological age. I know about their lives and they know about mine and we communicate regularly about every day things. But we still need days like Mothers Day to let each other know how much we care and how we don’t take anything for granted – once in a while we all want to feel ‘special’.
These occasional visits on special days like Mother’s Day were part of the limited contact these very young teenagers – like my Granny and ‘oor Ag’ - had with their family, even though they might be only a few miles down the road. Maybe we take more than we think for granted these days.
Granny Gibb only had one child and that was my Nan who she lived with so she was a major part of my childhood. Her stories were always happy ones, although I know her life was hard at times. She was a really good giggle and great at dominoes! I think it is fabulous that someone born in 1883 is still remembered so clearly and has created lovely memories that I talk about to my children and grandchildren.