Although she disagreed with most of his work, Declan Lynch's mother Frances did not complain
Published 13/11/2011 | 05:00
WHEN it was suggested to me that I might want to write a few words about my mother Frances, who passed away last week, it struck me that this would probably be the first time I have ever mentioned her in print, and also probably the first thing I have ever written that she hasn't read.
Which is deeply sad and yet somehow perfectly normal. In fact, I would imagine that most mothers would read their son's articles, and would probably think that they were all very good. But with Frances, it was a bit more complicated.
I believe that on all the great issues of public and private life, of what might be called faith and morals, and the way that the world is going in general, she disagreed profoundly with almost every one of those articles.
And yet she never said anything about it.
I have never really understood this, because it seems to require levels of tolerance and of sophistication which are beyond me.
Deep into her 86th year, when her eyesight was going, on a Sunday she would go with my sister Kathy to one of the many hotels in Athlone, where they would have coffee and Kathy would read my articles to her.
And though I was getting no closer to her on any of those great issues, nor on many of the smaller ones, still she would not complain to me, to Kathy, to my other sister Marina or to my brother Damien -- except on one occasion when she was so troubled by something she had seen in the paper, she just had to give voice to her unhappiness.
My byline picture had been changed, and she didn't like my hair in the new one.
I listened sympathetically, but the picture was not changed. And there the matter rested.
This woman who had grown up in the Athlone of the Thirties and who lived to see the Sheraton and two other humongous new hotels going up in the town, scenes out of science fiction, was also required to read pieces in the Sunday paper written by her son in which he acknowledged that there was a time in his life when he was drinking too much, up there in Dublin. She let that go too, without comment, perhaps imagining that without the drinking, I might start to get a bit of sense. It was not to be.
Frances seemed to understand at a very deep level, that if the writer is worried about what his mother will think, it might make her life a bit easier, but it won't be much good for anyone else. Again, many of us born in the Sixties can only aspire to be so broadminded.
Since I don't believe in the Resurrection, I can't really sign off with some jaunty line about how she'll be reading this up there in heaven. Since she did believe in the Resurrection, and the life of the world to come, just on the off-chance, I'd like to send her all my love.