Thursday, April 06, 2006

Roundtable with a teaspoon of sugar and a shot of Irish Whiskey

An old tale from my call centre days (no –not that kind of call centre)

Sometimes in the midst of call centre drudgery, amongst the head sets, the clicking of keyboards, the How May I Help You’s, the rude hang-ups. Sometimes in the middle of all this there is a voice, a single human voice with the need to tell a story that makes it all worthwhile. Today was the day I was told the tragically beautiful story of Aunt Nelly Sullivan. And in the dying tradition of true story telling, I pass her tale onto you:

The year is 1912, in a small village set in the hills of Northern Ireland, a young girl of 16 left her family, her life, her heritage to board a boat to America. She left alone, no kin to join her and on the long voyage over, amid soon to be immigrants all hoping for a second chance, she met the man that would become her husband. They settled in Dover, New Hampshire and the young girl found work at the Mill. She had 18 children. In a time of no television she brought back to life her home of Ireland to the ears and eyes of her 18 kids. The dusty, damp histories of the world and relatives she left behind was lovingly handed down like an heirloom. She told her stories so her children could remember and so she would not forget.

After the woman passed on, only one of her 18 children would make it back to see the homeland her mother had painted for them so many years ago. Her name was Nelly. Every year Nelly would send small gifts and Christmas cards to her relatives in Ireland. Her Irish family was impressed she knew even more about the tiny village than even it’s inhabitants thanks to her mother’s storytelling. The last trip Aunt Nelly took to Ireland she was 87. Within a year Nelly was fatally hit by a drunk driver in the middle of winter in her hometown of Dover as she was crossing the street. When they found her dead in the road her hands were full with Christmas cards all posted to a tiny village in the middle of Ireland.

No rant today. No snarkiness. I’ve wanted to share this story for a while now, and thought I best do it while I have a captive audience.


RW said...

They were built differently in those days. Compared to that generation we are actually all a bunch of whining turds.

Would have been great to know her.

Atul said...

It sounds like one of those mass e-mail stories, but the fact that you wrote it so nicely and that it's a real story makes it somewhat touching.

Nelly did her part to stay connected with her roots. Many immigrants today have that guilt factor of not being able to share everything with their family "back home". It's rough, and I have it partially as much of my extended family is in India. Email helps.

Trish said...

Sweet story, Lauren. We used to joke about my mom telling and re-telling (and re-telling) her stories about growing up and dancing with celebrities in Palm Springs and falling in love with dad and life on the farm. But now I'm so glad she did.

Stories are everything. Your story makes me want to live a little more myself -- so I'll have some stories to share....

Thank you for telling it. Let's raise our glasses to Nelly!


Sereena X said...

Nice story. Crappy way to die, though.

Stephen V Funk said...

It's amazing what complete strangers will tell you over the phone about their personal lives sometimes... but it's rarely anything as poignant as this.

Capt Cook said...

Its good to know where your from. It makes it easier to see where your are going.

Capt Cook said...

Its good to know where your from. It makes it easier to see where your are going.

Donny B said...

18 kids? Good Lord. I'm surprised she could walk at all after that.

It is a very nice story. Makes me want to drink whiskey next to a fireplace with a blanket wrapped around me.

Prego said...

You know, every time (rare occasions) I watch an 'action movie', where the hero mows down 20 bad guys with a machine gun, I think about the deceased... moms waking them up for school, and that kind of thing.

Your story made me think of my mom, who came here from Venezuela. She passed away from an illness 5 years ago. I really should be telling more stories about her and Venezuela to my sons.