I have been thinking a lot about my Mom lately. She was a very interesting woman. Well educated, well read, musically talented, amazingly talented knitter and crocheter, quilter, great mother in law and mother, quiet as a church mouse and able to tolerate a lot more than I could ever do so. She always came home from the library with a book she thought I would like. She would read on a theme, for example, for a while she was reading books about India, both fiction and non-fiction so she would pass on books I might like. I think I was in Junior High and was reading the same books my mom was!
She was not a good teacher in one way. She could not teach me to sew, knit etc. I would get stuck and instead of teaching me how to get out of the mess she would just take it and fix it. That was not helpful since I learned “learned helplessness.” We should teach our kids how to fix things. I struggle with this problem even today.
Anyway, in the month of June I drive hubby crazy but not letting anyone mow down the weeds in my yard until after the daisies have bloomed. Why? In memory of my mom, that’s why!. I love to see the wild blowing daisies and think of my mom. There is a picture of her somewhere with her long, think black hair blowing out to the side. The daisies remind me of her so much.
When my mom was young she was close to her Aunt Madeline as well as some other relatives. Madeline was 12 years younger than my grandfather so more like a playmate to my mom than an aunt. Madeline wrote the following story about my mom and I have to tell you my mom loved it. One of her wonderful memories of childhood. So for my gr nieces and nephews this is about your great grandmother.
This story was written by Madeline O’Connor my mother Aunt. At the end I will make a little family tree so you can see where you might fit in to this family. My mother Norah always remembered this party and the story of Daisyland. It was one of her fond memories growing up and she told me about it many times over the years. So the M is for Madeline and the N is for Norah. There are pictures that go with the story. Summers at the farm must have been great fun for my mother and her younger siblings. Plus they always had ponies at their house and a cart they could hitch the ponies up to and ride around Gananoque in the cart. Including one time my mother took them up the stairs and right into the city hall to visit their father the Mayor. So here is Madeline’s story of Daisyland.
By Madeline O’Connor
Among the many beautiful things that God created to make the earth lovely and to add to our enjoyment are flowers. He made them in every color and size. Many have lovely odors also. There are flowers growing in very cold countries and flowers growing in very hot countries.
There is one flower that can be found in every country of the world – the Daisy. Some people call it a weed, but others love it. The one seen most often in America is the white with its sunny cheery centre, circled by a fringe of white petals.
Many years ago a little girl we will call N. and her teenaged Aunt we will call M. named a big field of white daisies “Daisyland”.
This little girl with her two younger sisters and brother were staying at their grandfather’s in the country for a month or more to give their mother a rest and more time to take care of the new wee baby, which God had given them. Their two year old brother and newly born baby were keeping the mother very busy. Anyway, the older four loved to visit their grandmother and grandfather and the latter were very happy to have them.
Every morning N and her young Aunt would cross the orchard to visit Daisyland – no not Disney land – but DAISEYLAND. Sometimes the summer breeze would stir up a welcome ‘Good Morning’ to the girls, as they approached. Then again a real wind would rock the flowers to and fro, as if they were merrily dancing.
The school house was across the street from the grandparents’ home, so N. went to school there for it was the month of June. But on the second last day of June the school was closing for the summer holidays and it happened that it was N’s birthday also.
The school children had all been very good to the four little visitors and played games with them at recess and noon. The pupils not only loved the four, but the loved the grandmother and grandfather also, as the house across the street was a kind of second home to the school children. If hurt or frightened, they could run over to grandmother, or on stormy winter nights, they could stay all night there. If a lunch pail was forgotten at home, their mothers did not worry as they knew they would go to grandmother and ask for a ‘piece’ and get a real meal.
When the grandparents thought of a way to celebrate N’s birthday they gathered the children around them. “We will have a birthday picnic party. The pupils and teacher Miss S. have been so kind to you, that you can ask every one of them, but we must call it a picnic party, not a birthday one, as they will not bring any presents”
But, N asked, ‘Won’t I get any presents?’
‘Oh, of course you will, we are each giving you something, but you are giving them the picnic in return for their friendship and just keep quiet all of you, about a birthday, until they come, anyway.’
The four grandchildren could hardly get to sleep, thinking of the party. In the morning N asked if she could ask the teacher again. When she ask her, Miss S. said, that she was closing early at 2:30, so they would have time for many games.
It was a busy forenoon, as Grandfather brought his long work table from the backyard to the front lawn. This was covered with a white tablecloth and M. took the four to ‘Daisyland’ and gathered arms full of daisies. A beloved old Aunt, who lived over the hill, came with a large pail of cookies she had baked – the kind, that were a speciality and great favorites. Of course she has been one of the first to be invited. She showed the three little girls how to braid the daisies into chains and little brother helped Grandfather to loop the chains around the table.
Not only were the daisies in blossom, but the yellow roses and Grandfather’s favorite white ones. The bushes were covered with roses. The table was centered by a bowl of yellow and white roses and matched the daisies and at the girls’ places at the table was a white rose for each and a yellow one at the boys’. Of course they had to stand at the table, but they did not mind that as the food was so good. They had meat, egg, salmon, and peanut sandwiches, lemonade, cookies, iced cream, which had taken Grandfather a long time to make, for so many. The freezer had been a birthday present the year before, and using the rich yellow cream from the three jersey cows, made the best ice cream one could have. Grandmother had made a huge cake iced in white and lettered “Happy Birthday”, with N’s name in yellow marshmallows, so you see everything matched the daisies of Daisyland, white and yellow.
But when the children read “Happy Birthday” the older ones said, “We did not know it was N’s birthday, and we have no presents.” But, Grandmother explained, that their friendliness was their present. The only other thing that happened to quiet the fun was when one very little girl would not eat anything, saying, “my daddy will buy me my meal; The teacher said, “That is all right dear” and soon the others forgot about her and enjoyed their food. Before leaving for home, the teacher Miss S. gathered them about her and had them sing “Happy Birthday” and then they each one said “thanks for the lovely party”.
Often in the years since, when M would meet some of those, who were at the party, they would say “Remember N’s picnic party?”
Oh yes, N got her presents, her old Aunt, who made the cookies gave her an apron, which she called a pinney (that was what old ladies called aprons then). M gave her hair ribbons, which little girls wore then in huge bows. Grandmother had made her a dress with a slip to match, while Grandfather gave her two dollars to buy a pair of white shoes when she returned home (shoes did not cost then, as much as they do today)
The next day her Daddy came and she was so glad to see him, but it made her lonesome for her Mother and she looked sad. Grandmother understood and said, “I really think N. would be able to help her Mother with the new baby, now that she is a year older” N. smiled through her tears and asked, “Daddy, can I go home with you?” So, N went home, but her two sisters and her brother loved the farm and wanted to stay all summer. This pleased the grandparents to know that they were so happy and it was wonderful for all.
The children did not wish to leave the wee kittens, the dear Collie dog, the fluffy chickens, the downy, darling yellow ducklings in their pen with the sunken tub in which they swam and darted for flies, the friendly baby colt, the pet lamb, which gamboled into the front yard every time he could find the gate open, the calves, the bantams, and even the teeny pigs were fun to watch. As grandfather would watch the children, he would say, “Every child should live in the country on a farm for a while”.
Now my dears, I wonder, if you have guessed who this dear little girl N could be? If not , try and guess… a very quiet little girl with beautiful eyes and long dark hair. Have you guessed? She was or is not your own dear Grandmother Laughland, then little Norah O’Connor.
And her sisters, your great Aunt Margaret, who loved everyone at Long Point and whom everyone loved, because she was so kind and good, and your aunt Eileen, happy, chubby and friendly, always ready for fun. The little boy was your grand Uncle Maurice (fair-haired, quiet little lad, always so clean and neat, in his little sailor –collared suits which Grandmother always kept so clean and pressed because he liked them that way). He seemed happiest, when alone with Madeline, to whom he could tell his long stories, without any interruption from his busy little sisters although he loved them very much and there was never any quarreling. They were too happy and good for that and each one tried to help the others. M and her parents considered them the best and most lovable children in the world, just as your grandparents think you are.
We had some snapshots of the birthday party and of Daisyland and your Grandmother may have some, but if not, she probably will not remember that birthday. But I think she will remember ‘Daiseyland’
Charles O’Connor —— Emily McArdle
Frances Keating —— Fergus Madeline
Norah Marie O’Connor