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The Coronadiaries 4
Thursday 29th October 2020 @ 10:38 am

There are moments when my mother cannot remember what she had for breakfast. There are moments when over breakfast, she will paint beautiful word pictures of things that happened 80 years ago.  

Take this morning for example.

Once again the conversation of coronavirus moves toward the comment “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life – the world has never been like this.” I nudge her to tell me about the war, and she replies, “well, yes, that was bad.”

She proceeds to tell me about the whole family (seven of them) in the cupboard under the stairs during nighttime bombing raids, and how my granny hated the clear nights when her panic would set in and she would shout at my grandfather for going outside to watch the skies.

She continues to tell me of the bombing raids in 1941, and how after one particularly bad night, her mother grabbed her in the morning and took her to the train station. Together they got onto a train and alighted at Ballynahinch Halt. Without a definitive plan, they walked. This mother and her five year old.

“Must have been 2 or 3 miles we walked.”

Eventually they stopped at a large farm house and knocked on the door. My granny explained the situation to the farmer’s wife, and asked if they had any rooms to rent. There was some discussion between the occupants, and this mother–bear and her five year old were politely told there was no room.

My granny turned to my mother and indicated they were going to return to the train station. My mother (with all her five years of wisdom) said, “sure we can keep walking and look for somewhere else?”

They continued to walk.

Another mile or two.

But there was no opening, no space, no room. As they walked back to Ballynahinch Halt, they past the large farmhouse where they had originally stopped. The farmer’s wife saw them, came outside and beckoned them over. She brought them into the house and showed them two large downstairs rooms. She offered my granny and my mum the space.

It was their home for the next year. God Bless the McCormick’s of Ballynahinch and their compassion and openness. My aunties Sadie, Ruby and Betty stayed with my grandfather in Belfast where they all worked, and my auntie Olive and mum enrolled in the local school.

Mum talks about it with a tone of beauty. She recalls getting on the back of a horse with the son of the farm letting her tag along, and she talks about the outdoors and about fresh air. Clearly it was quite a special year, that all flowed from an experience of bloody Blitz.


I appreciate her memories, and I tell her so.

And I appreciate that she has seen some tough times before, and I tell her so.

“Aye, but nothing like this,” she raises her eyebrows.


It is good to be reminded of the times humans have overcome.

Especially in these days.

For me, these days are particularly irritating – as just over one week from coming out of isolation due to having the virus, I am made aware that someone else in my bubble has tested positive. I am therefore required to isolate again. For another two weeks.

The science tells me I cannot get it again – for maybe two or three months – henceforth if I cannot catch it again I cannot pass it on again, but that science isn’t acknowledged into the regulations yet.

It takes talking with five different helplines and several website searches to get a definitive answer, but yes I have to disappear again. I promise to do my bit and be responsible, again. I have already cancelled the (outside) meetings scheduled, and I am back to zoom–life.  But you may see me walking on the sea–path, I promise to give you a wide birth if you do. The sea–path will keep me sane. As will remembering days when my granny grabbed my mother at first light and said “Come with me …”


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