The places you'll go - Madonna Magazine

The places you'll go

Clare Deignan 01 December 2017

Dear Charlotte,

Recently, your Mimi and I were talking about family history. She reminded me that before he passed away, your Great Grandpa Deignan mentioned that the priest who said his mother's funeral had been made venerable, American Capuchin Friar Fr Solanos Casey. Now, of course, it would be pretty difficult to prove that Fr Casey actually said the Mass for your Great-Great Grandmother's funeral, but it makes for a good family story.

I decided to Google Fr Casey and discovered that this past May, Pope Francis announced that he would be beatified in the near future. After reading his life story, I thought I'd look up some of Fr Casey's quotes. The one which struck me most is, 'What does it matter where we go? Wherever we go, won't we be serving God there? And wherever we go, won't we have Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with us? Isn't that enough to make us happy?'

For nomads like your dad and me, this quote is comforting and encouraging, especially since we are facing another big move. Where to? Wherever your father gets a job. (The joys of an academic life that no one warns you about.)

Your Mimi and Great-Grandma Mary have the whole family praying that we end up close to 'home', meaning where they are. Of course, ultimately, this is what your father and I hope for. My family is big with lots of cousins to play with, tons of fun get-togethers and not to mention the promise of free babysitting. But having been through this before, your dad and I know we are truly powerless over where we end up. All your dad can do is apply and all I can do is wait - and pray.

Home isn't a simple subject for our little family. To you, our home is a two-bedroom duplex with a nice big deck for you to play on and a private driveway to ride your balance bike. But actually, your father and I have had multiple homes and possibly more to come.

Growing up in just one house until I was 18 years old, I've never got used to moving house, city, country - even multiple times a year. Now, we know the drill well: pack up, move, and find a place to live, a grocery store, a good coffee shop, a cycle path for your dad and of course a Catholic church for me. Then it's about a year, to make friends. And I'm never sure how long it will take for it to feel like home when we walk through the front door.

There's an old worn-out cliche that says, 'Home is where your heart is', so of course wherever your father and you are is my home. But I feel like your dad and I have left bits of ourselves all over the world. Places we moved to with only our allotted baggage, which after time slowly became home. Every once in a while, I get a ping that makes me miss the snow of Nova Scotia, the fierce winds of the south coast of the UK, or a latte from a Melbourne cafe, and all of a sudden I'm surrounded by the many faces that made me love these different places and I'm homesick.

But whenever I get too homesick for our families or for places we may never return to, I think of my Grandma who left home at a very young age, only to return a handful of times in her life. I know I've told you, how your Great-Grandma Mary had to leave her family's home in County Mayo, Ireland at only eight or nine to help her uncle's wife in Dublin and then at about 15 she moved to the US. She told me before she left home that in her village, there was a girl who had spine deformity and chronic health problems. Grandma Mary's father kept this girl in mind when Grandma was leaving. As Grandma Mary was saying goodbye to her family her father told her, 'I'm not going to cry, because I would cry if you couldn't go'. Grandma tells me this story every so often. I take it as her telling me it's okay that I'm away, but also as reminder to be grateful, and to remember I'm not the first to leave home unsure if I would ever return for good.

Remembering Fr Casey's and Grandma Mary's words, I told your father to apply for whatever job is best and for as many as possible. I know that wherever God takes our little nomadic family, that in about a year, I'll have my Catholic Church, your dad will have his cycle route, and we'll have good friends to go to the park with or have over for dinner. And most importantly, when we walk in the front door of our future flat or house, whether permanent or temporary, it will eventually feel like home.

Love, Your mum.


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