Remembering Nana Frances on Nollaig na mban (Women’s Little Christmas)

Evolution 13. The Whole

My grandmother, whose name was Frances and not Nana
as I used to think, started baking cakes for Sunday’s tea
on a Monday morning, slow and steady was her process
like her concentration while waiting for pennies to drop
from slot machines on summer Sundays after train rides
all the way from Lusk to Bray. She was never that tall
but grew down towards us all so she could slip treats
into pockets or kisses onto cheeks. She married Pop,
whose name, I later discovered, was actually Bernard,
but I never remember them together, he died before
I started collecting memories of her comfortable cardigans
and flat feet and that coat she kept for Sunday mass
and the soft evening light pouring in through the narrow
window as she sat by the table ironing my underwear
of an evening, the same table we crowded round on Sundays
for her high tea when we’d devour the cakes she’d started
to prepare for us on Mondays, in her kitchen, at the back,
off the station road in the countryside she hated at first
until she met Bernard and never left. Frances and Bernard.

Nana and Pop. Nana who I knew better and longer,
Nana who we buried with a bottle of Tweed perfume
in her coffin because that was her smell though I recall
more the fresh bread from the oven, in the morning,
as she sat on her stool in the kitchen, waiting and watching
things coming and going. It’s not the finished product
but the collection of ingredients that makes up the whole.


All words by Damien B Donnelly 


4 thoughts on “THE WHOLE

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