I have been feeling the love this 40th birthday, oh yes I have. When we got back from our vacation, there was a real paper letter waiting for me at home. Snail mail is such a treat now, and I eagerly opened it. I knew immediately who it was from of course. I always recognize my much loved aunt Ursula’s handwriting. First my Mom wrote about me and now Ursula…I feel very lucky to have so many people who care about me in my life.
At the risk of getting tiresome with all of the posts about just how wonderful I am, I am going to post Ursula’s letter here anyway. It is my blog after all.
Not only does this letter mean so much to me, but so does Ursula and all of my Irish family – including those now in Birmingham and Canada. Love to you all. And thank you dear Ursula. I love you so much.
For Finola on her 40th Birthday
I first set eyes on Finola Margaret Billowes at Dublin Airport in the summer of 1972. My sister Eileen, her son Paul, and Finola (who was just short of her first birthday) came home to Ireland on holiday and we, their Irish family, looked forward to meeting them very much. We had last seen Paul as a baby of ten months when Eileen and her husband moved to Canada and although we had many photos and accounts of their progress in the intervening years, nothing could compare with seeing them in person.
The three of them looked so well and happy. Paul was tall for a seven year old, with lovely light brown curls, very handsome and with a ready smile for everyone. Finola was dark haired with large questioning eyes and so like Eileen, it was amazing. I will always remember the dress she wore, blue with smocking and rosebuds embroidered on the collar. At the beginning, she did not know quite what to make of all these extra people coming into her life, but she was an extremely happy baby, loved to play and laughed a lot. One of her favourite “games” was scurrying off with whatever shoes were handy to her, no matter who they belonged to. She especially loved sandals and shoes with laces – it was easier to get away with more of them in one go. As it was summer and sandal time, it sometimes took an age to locate footwear when going out! That holiday was just perfect. We all loved Paul and Finola and they loved us in turn. My mother was especially proud of the fact that Finola was the only granddaugbter to carry her name – Margaret. Indeed, Finola gave that name to her her firstborn daughter too (as a middle name).
Since 1972, I have seen Finola many times and it was a privilege to watch her grow from a little girl through her teenage years to womanhood and eventually motherhood. Through all of these stages in her life she has been magnificent, achieving her goals quietly and efficiently without causing worry or stress to anyone. One of my forever memories is being able to join in the celebration of the marriage of Finola and Tony on 31st August 1996. It is obvious seeing them together, that Finola is adored, encouraged and supported by her husband Tony, and her two fantastic daughters. It goes without saying that Finola is loved and held in high esteem by her mother Eileen, her brother Paul and his partner Tamara.
Over the years her Irish Family has diminished with the deaths of my Mother, sisters Peggy and Una, brother Eamonn and my husband Peter. They loved and admired her very much and would be so proud of her today. Finola is a loving, caring and compassionate woman and my sons, Niall, Peter and I, were recipients of that love and thoughtfulness at first hand in October of 2008 when we were at a very bad time in our lives. Finola is special to me and I have only managed to put on paper a very small sample of my feelings and memories.
While very much a Canadian, Finola carries her Irish ancestry with pride, she is very much a Lawlor Woman and I am so proud to say that she is my Niece. Finola, have a lovely 40th Birthday and best wishes for peace, happiness, success and especially love for the future.
|Ursula, me, my blue dress and a pair of sandals.|