Nine A.M., 2 Commercial Quay Wexford.
“I don’t know what you eat for breakfast over there?” my Mother Molly wondered. “Ah – just a cuppa tea and a boiled egg, the same as you.” Molly was shelling an egg over the kitchen sink and cooling it in the cold water.
“Here, puss puss.” The black and white cat, without a name, effortlessly leapt up from the ground onto the stainless steel draining board, and took the boiled egg out of Molly’s hand. Growling with the warm egg between her teeth she ran off down the hall like she had captured a live mouse.
Molly proudly smiled at this ritual – she had obviously discovered the animal’s weakness for a boiled egg on their mornings alone.
This was a new one on me, Puss had always been a non-entity, taking second place to the dog, who was called Sputnik after the Russian satellite – however she was now earning attention through her cleverness. I didn’t know which was more fascinating, the cat’s new-found status, or the sound of her growling while she ran away with the egg. It was a time when cats weren’t appreciated in Ireland and not even worthy of an identity.
After breakfast Molly jumped to her feet and gripped her waist. “Have you noticed anything?” she enquired playfully.
I had just returned home from New York for my Christmas holidays and wondered was she wearing something new, something that she maybe designed herself?
Molly could make anything, if she wanted a new outfit, she would simply buy a few yards of material and a pattern, sit at the sewing machine and whip it up, in no time she’d be wearing it.
She twirled around on her toes and spoke, before I could say anything.
“A stone and a half!”
I hadn’t noticed of course, she was wearing the same kind of clothes that she’d always worn over her portly shape, some kind of dark woollen skirt and a blue cardigan, I couldn’t really see her figure – all I saw was my very motherly Mother.
“Oh that’s great, how did you do that?”
“Every day, without fail, I walked for at least an hour, no matter how I felt. I usually went all the way out to Ferrycarrig, and back again.”
“That’s a long walk alright, no wonder you lost so much.”
I was trying to make up for my lack of perception in the first place. I adored my mother, she was like a little girl at times like that, and to see her so pleased with herself, just hoisted my heart to the ceiling.
She’d worked hard all of her life. As the only daughter of the boxer Jem Roche, Molly was expected to assist with the parenting and household chores, in a family of seven. Fortunately her ‘Dada’, as she called him, doted over his only daughter, and tried to spoil her with his earnings as a hotelier and nationally-known sports hero.
He encouraged her love of music, and the enterprising Molly taught herself how to read and write music, before taking her own danceband to halls down the country.
As a married woman, Molly borrowed from the bank and bought a three-storey house on the quay, where she waited on my father and the six of us, while running a B&B. Now in her 60s, she had some time to walk and even pleasure in the cat’s personality.
She twirled on her toes and delighted in her waistline, it was a pleasure to see her have time for herself.