My mother refused to pray again after my father died

Family Fortunes: I was two months shy of my fifth birthday when he passed away

When my father died in 1946 I was two months shy of my fifth birthday. However, I still have cherished memories of that wonderful man. When I was three years old I suffered a severe burn which necessitated me being in bandages for over two years.

My small bed was placed on his side of my parents’ bed and when I would be restless and uncomfortable he would hold my hands and sooth me. He would tell me not to scratch the burns as it would make the burns worse and that it was a sign it was healing.

When we all knelt down on the kitchen floor at night to say the Rosary, I was allowed to sit on his chair, with him kneeling in front of me and I would repeatedly run my hands over his bald head. It was the most beautiful feeling.

He used to keep pennies in his pocket – the Irish ones with the hen and after a week or so we would ask if the hen had “hatched” yet.


If it had “hatched” we would get back our penny and two halfpennies which had a pig with little bonhams on it. If she hadn’t “hatched” we would have to wait another few days.


He once gave me a tiny slap on the bottom. I was about four and I was not allowed to run or climb ladders because of my burns. However, I climbed halfway up the ladder to the top of the hay barn when I was caught.

He took me under his arm and brought me down and gave me a tip on my bottom. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked, furious and humiliated.

I threw an almighty tantrum – I screamed, roared and kicked my feet off the floor, pounded my fists on the table, but all to no avail. He continued reading his paper as if he was deaf.

It was a question of who would blink first – but it was me – I couldn’t bear not to be his friend. I walked across the kitchen and climbed on to his knee. Thankfully he made no mention of my misdemeanour. I reckoned he had forgotten and I was incredibly relieved.

After all our Rosaries and prayers he died and my mother refused to ever pray to the “Little Flower” again because “she let your father die”.