John McCullagh September 5, 2006
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Our next nearest neighbours in Sunnyside was the Morley family who lived a mile off down the road.


 

One day a young woman with an English accent came striding on long shapely legs over the hill. I was splitting firewood in front of our house. She turned in at our gate and my mother met her at the door.

‘I’m Kathleen Morley,’ she said.

‘We live on the other side of the hill.

I’ve come to welcome you and your family to Sunnyside.’

From the very start my mother and Kathleen Morley got on well. She was the only oasis in my mother’s social desert. She visited often and they would talk for two hours at a time, while mother continued her housework, baking bread, patching the children’s clothing, sewing and darning or preparing the evening meal.

Judging from her laughter, these were happy visits for my mother. I had not heard her laugh so loudly and continuously since she had left Ireland.

Sometimes she would joke and josh her guest with references to potential boyfriends – eligible young men like George Jeffrey, Jnr.

‘I can’t stand the sight of him!’ exclaimed Kathy.

‘He’s so big and fat!’

My mother had a habit when so amused of slapping her hands on her lap to the accompaniment of joyous laughter.

‘Och, my God! D’ye hear ye now?’
 

The Morleys were working-class English and had emigrated to Canada some two years previously in the hope of self-betterment. However tragedy struck immediately when the mother soon after died of a heart attack – leaving her husband with seven children to rear, Kathy being the eldest.

‘We children were shocked by her death, of course,’ said Kathy,

‘But my father was devastated. He just fell apart.

I had to take over the care of the family.

He hasn’t got over it yet!’

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