May 11, 2013

Mothers Day - With Quiet Courage...

Irene May Palmer
As I reflected on a Mother's Day post, I decided that I wanted 
to pay special tribute to my British Nanny.

Her name was Irene May Palmer. She was born on November 10, 1915 and
died on November 1, 1961 only 9 short days before her 46th Birthday.  She
was taken all too soon by ovarian cancer, passing at her home in England.
I was only seven years old when she died, but I remember that day vividly.

I think this first photograph is one of my favorites. There aren't many of 
her, but this one was taken at a wedding only months before my birth.
I can see the gentleness in her eyes and her smile is almost "Mona Lisa-esque".

Nanny was one of six children. She had four sisters and one brother.
She was second in birth order to Francis (Frannie). After her came Nell; Lily
(whose nickname was Bobbie because of her hairstyle); brother Arthur (Art) and
youngest sister, Margaret (Marg) who is still living in England. (You'll remember,
I have another Aunty Margaret, so I call Nanny's sister "Aunty Margaret Senior".)
Don't you just love those names?

I've tried to locate a photograph of all of them together, but many of the old pictures
were lost to the war (World War II). "Things" were just not as important as "people",
and Nanny preferred to spend her precious days caring for her family.
 I showed you this image not long ago. It's the lid to a box in which I keep treasured
letters from my Nanny to my mother (and me) written so many years ago.
 Inside, I keep not only the letters, but an old bottle of "Evening in Paris"
perfume, which was my grandmother's favorite fragrance. When I sit
and read her letters (which I've done frequently in recent weeks), I will
occasionally open the bottle, close my eyes and imagine Nan sitting with me.
Nanny with her first grandchild - me. circa 1955
 Nan was married more than once and lived a short, difficult life. She had
four girl (my mother) and three boys, Richard, John and Trevor.
She was a kind and honest woman who worked hard, loved her children and
adored me and her other grandchildren. She only met two of us in person
 before she (her first) and my cousin, Dawn who was also born in
England - and still lives there with her husband and family.

In reading her letters, I learned that she often called me "Dee Dee". I smiled
when I realized that. To this day, no one else has used that nickname for me.
My Uncle Larry called me "Dee", but that's as close as anyone else came to it. 

As I grew older, I would also write to her, and it's fun for me to go back and read
 her reactions to my childish notes. I wish I remembered more of those days, but
 her letters help to remind me - and I'm able to know her better through her words.

I've often wondered what I would say to her now if I had the chance to sit 
face-to-face with her and hold her hand in mine. Many times I've felt her presence
in my life. Her sister has said that she would be proud of the woman I've become.
I feel that in her letters, and I know that she watches over me and smiles.

At Handsome's last Suncoast Concert Band concert, conductor Bob Stoll
read a passage that was written by composer Larry Daehn for a piece of
music he wrote in tribute to his own mother. The piece is called
"With Quiet Courage", and when I heard these words, Nanny immediately
came to mind. By the time the music was finished, I had tears streaming
 down my cheeks. I'd like to share Mr. Daehn's words and music as tribute
to my loving, sweet Nanny and her beautiful life ended decades too soon.

With Quiet Courage
by Larry Daehn

"Her life was heroic, but without fanfare.
She worked and hoped and inspired.
She loved and was loved.
Her life was a noble song of quiet courage."
Happy Mother's Day, Dear Nanny. 
I miss you and love you always.

This is the music if you'd like to hear it...
(Turn up your sound and sit back. You might want to grab a Kleenex, too.)
Happy Mother's Day!

5 friends clicked here to leave a note for me:

Claudia said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Nan, Donna. Happy Mother's Day to you.


Twyla and Lindsey said...

Thank you for introducing us to your dear Nanny. What a nice tribute. Have a happy day! Twyla

Chocolates4Breakfast (TerriBoog) said...

What a beautiful post, Donna.

Createology said...

Donna Dear I do believe your Nanny is watching over you and guiding you through your life and that she is very very proud of the woman you are. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. Happy Mother's Day...

Buttons said...

Donna, this is so beautiful. I watched and listened and I can truly imagine how you felt as this was being performed. Thank you for sharing with us. :)


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