Growing up …Written by admin on June 18th, 2012
By Maureen Schwab
Growing up in Green Island has had a lasting influence on how I viewthe world around me , and how I choosethe things and people that matter most to me. Even though I knew from a very early age that I lived in a neighborhood that could never be considered desirable or affluent, inretrospect, it was a far better life than what author Frank Mc Court describes in his autobiography, Angela’s Ashes (1996).
In his book, McCourt writes about the hunger he endured as a child because his father often drank away the money that should have been spent on food for his family. His mother, who at times had to beg to feed her family, was a responsible mother, but unable to control her husband’s drinking.
Never having experienced hunger as a child or as an adult, it was very humbling for me to realize how something as simple as regular meals can play a critical part in the development of one’s sense of dignity and self-respect.
My mother, who lived through the Great Depression, never let us goes hungry. She never traveled, or had expensive clothing or jewelry, but it did not matter to her. What did matter to her was her family, and providing us with the simple wonderful meals she cooked for us day after day. We never wasted a crumb, and even our stale bread was fed to the birds at Crompton Park, or the deer and the buffalo that lived at Green Hill Park.
I can’t really compare the life that Frank McCourt had to endure to what I experienced in Green Island. The poverty of McCourt’s Limerick made Lafayette St. look like an upper middle class neighborhood. We may have been dressed in shoes and clothing that was of a lesser quality, but most of us did not have to contend with the issues of hunger and diseases that are more prevalent in areas of extreme poverty.
What I do have in common with McCourt is our mothers’ love for us, and their willingness to sacrifice to care for us; this is what mothers do, sacrifice personal dreams and desires to care for their children.
Sadly, there are women (rich and poor and everything in-between) who are unable or unwilling to care for their children. We read stories in the paper that tell us of the horrorscommittedagainst innocent children at the hands of their mothers. We need a new word in the English language that strips away the title of mother forever from a woman who harms her child mentally or physically.
Once a year on a Sunday in May we celebrate Mother’s Day. One year, I gave my Mom a little artificial pick carnation corsage that I bought from the Sisters at St.Marys school. She loved it, and I felt very special for being able to make my Mom happy. Frank McCourt writes candidly about his mother, and honors her and all she did to keep him safe and well, as a mother myself, I would have been honored. Like McCourt, I learned to appreciate people and situations from the perspective of one who may have been deprived of some material things, but we had one big advantage; mothers who fed us bread and soup as well as our dreams and desires.