By Paul McLaughlin
My mother’s distinctive handwriting flows cursively across the title page of the old notebook. The ‘S’ of her Christian name, ‘Sally’, stylised into what looks suspiciously like a treble clef. I have to smile. When I was a little boy, she used to draw cats, sat upright on curling tails with magnificent whiskers, that looked just the same.
She has written her address beneath and included the newly, at that time, introduced postcode to avoid any confusion, as if there could be any after nearly thirty years in the same house.
The notebook was my present to her when I got my first job in Public Relations and looks remarkably well for its twenty five years. It is no wonder. Most of that time has been spent in one of a series of handbags that served as my mother’s filing system.
Photographs, memorial cards, for people long gone and mostly forgotten, with prayers to St Joseph, St Jude and St Martin, receipts, letters and postcards from coastal towns around Ireland, have long been retained under leather as if they might be needed at some future date.
That date is the house clearance that followed my father’s funeral. It is a bittersweet day of laughter and tears, of pictures, sounds and smells that make magic of memories.