Thursday, 4 March 2010

Memories, memories.



Father Ignatius was certainly the product of his up-bringing.

Raised in a poor family who had known real hardship; yet at the same time a family held together, despite all the turmoil that life threw at them, by a common bond of mutual love and basic Christian principles.

It’s because of his up-bringing, and because he grew up with very little materially, that he developed a habit of frugality and saving whatever he could rather than wasting it away.

He had taken a private vow of poverty when he became a priest, and since then he spent as little as possible on himself. He was not mean in the sense of avarice since anything he had, or whatever else came his way in terms of money or goods, he eagerly shared with the poor in his parish.

The little he kept for himself was usually either books or certain items he had collected over the years and kept for their sentimental value.

One Friday afternoon he decided to clear up the spare room of personal items he had not used for ages. He decided to donate them to the rummage sale in aid of the elderly.

As he was searching through a box full of books he found an old vinyl record; the old 45 rpm type record, black in color in a torn paper sleeve. He looked at the title of the song and sat down on a nearby chair.

Suddenly, the memories came flooding fast. He held the record in his shaking hand, as tears welled up in his eyes. He hadn’t seen nor played it for years, yet here it was, like a ghost from years long past, awakening distant memories so long forgotten.

He remembered how, as a child, he had saved all his pocket money, and went to the music store after school to buy this particular record as a birthday present for his dear father. Now departed.

The song was quite popular then.

He remembered his father’s reaction when he opened the brown paper bag and pulled out the shiny black vinyl record.

His parental eyes welled up too all those years ago, the same as Father Ignatius’ eyes are welling up right now.

His father placed the record on the table and said nothing. He just held little Ignatius tightly in his strong arms and kissed his head gently. Ignatius was held so tight that he could hear his father’s heart beating in his chest.

He could hear it beating right now, as he sat there holding the record in his shaking hand. And strangely as it may seem, the experience also brought to mind the sweet smell of cooking as they all gathered there as a family in the kitchen that cold winter evening.

His mother moved towards the table, leaving for a moment the food on the stove, and picked up the record.

“How lovely …” she said as she read the title.

She too then hugged little Ignatius as tightly as she could.

The priest remembered that that particular day was the first and only time he had seen his father cry. Silently, he had wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and quietly said: “Thank you … son”.

He was a big strong man, not given to much emotions or small talk. He had probably invented the British stiff upper lip and kept his feelings well hidden within himself. Usually silent at the best of times; mumbling the odd “yes dear …” whenever his wife asked him something. A gentle giant in every respect.

His father had known extreme poverty and hardship throughout his life, having lived through the depression and economic crisis.

Father Ignatius recalled how his father told him that many a time, when he was a child during the depression, he had gone to bed at night with nothing to eat; because there was simply no food in the house. Those were terrible times indeed, as his father often recalled.

He remembered that his father had worked the land from the age of eleven, leaving school with little or no education. It was the done thing in those days, to work hard at an early age to help the family beat off starvation.

And in later years, as young Ignatius was growing up, his father still continued to work hard on the farm to bring enough food to feed his family. His mother too, took on washing to earn a few pennies to supplement the family budget.

Yet despite their impoverished state Ignatius never had to go hungry, as his father did before him; and he was always well dressed and cared for by his parents.

He wondered about all the sacrifices his parents must have made, and how much they had gone without, to ensure that Ignatius lacked nothing as he grew up.

Father Ignatius then brought to mind the day when, as a young man, he built up the courage to tell his parents after the evening meal that he had decided he wished to become a priest.

How he had feared their reaction on hearing the news.

Although they were a good Christian family, he often suspected that his father wanted him to take over the small farm he had built up over the years. How would he react to the news that his son would not follow in his footsteps as a farmer?

“Mom … dad … I’ve been thinking and praying about this for a while. I want to become a priest …” were the opening words to an announcement that he dreaded making.

His father just smiled gently and said: “Son … I am proud of you.”

Father Ignatius could hear those words ringing in his ears, as clear as if they’d just been spoken; and he sobbed gently as he remembered his parents now both in Paradise. No doubt looking down on him, and hopefully still proud of him.

He said a silent prayer as he wiped his eyes with his handkerchief.

He then went to his room and put the record on the turntable and one more time let the lyrics come to life.

23 comments:

  1. A lovely memory Victor, of Father Ignatius.

    Thanks for all your prayers over the last few days too.

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  2. Nice to see you again Shadowlands.

    Praying for you. God bless.

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  3. Hi Victor.
    A lovely piece, thank you. It made me well up too!
    Thanks for your good wishes and encouragement. I'd still be talking about writing about Blessed William Tirry if you hadn't spurred me on!
    God bless.

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  4. Hello Kee,

    How lovely to see you visiting here again. I liked your researched post about St William Tirry on your Blog.

    God bless you.

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  5. This is really nice. I was wiping my eyes too. Thank you Victor.

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  6. Hi there Puzzled,

    It's great to see you visiting again. Glad you liked the story for today.

    God bless you always.

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  7. Hi Victor.

    Our government in the USA is taxing us into a "vow of poverty" whether we want it or not.

    "Oh My Pa-Pa" was one of my Mothers favorite songs.
    She always cried when she heard it.

    God bless you, Ron

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  8. Well Fr. Ignatius isn't the only one with tears in his eyes!

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  9. Hello Ron,

    You should see the number of taxes we have to pay here in the UK. I understand the Inland Revenue is now printing jokes on the back of our Tax Return Forms so that the public can see the funny side!

    Oh My Pa-Pa is such a lovely song - isn't it?

    Hello Mother of this lot.

    Sorry to bring tears to your eyes. I didn't meant to. I'll try a more light-hearted story next time.

    Thank you both for writing in. May God bless you Mother and Ron always.

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  10. What a lovely story. My eyes filled with tears as I pictured this beautiful family being so very loving and thankful toward each other. Thank you Victor, this was beautiful...:-) Hugs

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  11. On, Victor, this brought tears to my eyes! A touching, tender story! Thank you! Cathy

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  12. Hi Bernie and Cathy,

    Thank you for writing in to say you liked this story, although it was a little sad. I am very grateful for what my parents did for me; as I'm sure many readers will feel the same about their parents. And sometimes, the smallest thing, a record, a photo or whatever can remind us of them and their contribution to our up-bringing.

    God bless you Bernie and Cathy.

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  13. Not sure I had heard this song before. Beautiful. As was the story.

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  14. I remember Eddie Fisher and the song. I relate to the stories of the depression and Ignatius' Father.

    I loved this story, and didn't even have to grab for a kleenex. I'm a softie for a sweet tale, but I remember the Depression with fond memories. We had little. My parents sacrificed but I was blissfully unaware of the lack of affluence. I'm grateful for growing up in the 1930's......thrifty and practical.

    Thanks for the memory walk about strong people in tough times.

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  15. Hello Sarah and Maryellen,

    We are right now through various stages of recession or depression depending on which country we live in. I wonder how many people these days are going to bed hungry as a result.

    Thank you so much for writing in. May God bless you both and your families.

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  16. Love the story, Victor ... and the song made me cry, thinking of my dad ...

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  17. Same here Gabriella. My father did a lot for me.

    Thank you so much for writing in.

    God bless.

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  18. I have memories also but they are not like what others have posted, the record brought back memories of my few records I treasured as a young teenager that when my mom became mad with me she broke, I could still feel the pain. I love my mom, she just died Feb 2, 2010 I miss her so much and will always love her. My mom may not have been the perfect mom but she did her best, she just did not know how to handle her anger. I love you mom!!! God Bless You!!!!

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  19. Thank you Michele for sharing this with us.

    May I offer my sincere condolences on the death of your mother. I shall pray for her.

    Some people have difficulties when things get on top of them. I'm sure your mom loved you dearly.

    I'm praying for you Michele.

    God bless you.

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  20. Good memories are like a precious gift that God tucks in our hearts to be pulled out and treasured in times of need. Father Ignatius' memories of his parents were beautiful. Sad because he lost them but a great remimder of how much he was loved.

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  21. Hi Mary,

    It's the little kindnesses that we do for each other that we will be remembered for. My parents did a lot for me.

    God bless you Mary.

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  22. So very well said! Thank you for causing be to reflect on the times I shared with my dad! Happy Father's Day to you! Cathy

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  23. Hi Cathy,

    Thanx for writing in. Best wishes to you and your family on this Fathers' Day.

    God bless.

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