mad in pursuit journal


kittyKitty Mom: Birthday Thoughts

On August 12 in 1890 my grandmother was born. I've reflected a lot on the woman who became "Kitty Mom," the long-lived, sociable matriarch of our family.* But today I'm thinking about what made her such a force of nature. She lived her life surrounded by premature death and a disintegrating family, yet thrived. What makes one woman so resilient when others spiral into self-pity and depression?

Pride. I think Kitty Mom had a little Scarlatt O'Hara in her. Her family didn't own a plantation, but when times were good she got music lessons and took great pride in her abilities. When other Irish and Irish-American girls were working as domestics and seamstresses, she took pride in getting a job as an operator with Bell Telephone. It was professional and it taught her how to speak and conduct herself with people. Like Scarlatt, she had a taste for the finer things -- cut glass, carpets, good furniture, jewelry -- even if she needed to buy them second-hand. After Tara was destroyed, Scarlatt tore down the draperies and turned them into a gown and swore she would never be hungry again. Kitty Mom.

Kitty Mom must have been an engaging and sociable personality from the outset. Being warm and likable is a great asset for any child -- but especially a child who has to spend her adolescence living with a variety of family friends and relatives, as Kitty did after her mother died.

Energy -- Kitty Mom also had that. She ran a grocery business, started a little bar and grill, had a summer house that was party-central every weekend for about 30 years, and grew roses. Her energy was organized and efficient. She seemed to put on massive Thanksgiving dinners with the same ease as she transformed over-ripe peaches into cobbler.

Well, that's my tribute today.


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*See Flanagan Family History.