June In My Garden

My May Garden at Dusk

(Abraham Darby Rose with columbine)

May has been, and often is, ‘right mixy’ (country saying among Old Order Mennonites). Temps soars to outrageous highs then drop to nerve-wracking lows… Should I cover the Oriental lilies–Again? Will I do more harm than good (snapped stalks)? Will we dodge the bullet this time?

Fortunately, most of my fussed over plants survived with little damage. Lillies are tougher than I thought, roses, too, and I’ve enjoyed beauty worthy of ‘The Shire’, in Hobbiton.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. ~Robert Braultrbrault.blogspot.com

(Below, my bunny statue with foxglove and iris)

Last evening, I ventured forth to capture images of my Memorial Garden. The colors shone in the lessening light, perhaps because I favor pastel hues that standout at dusk. White is the queen of night, and I include these flowers in my plantings. White blossoms glow in the gathering darkness. I intended to remain outside until my solar lights came on, but as the sun sank beneath the hills, the resident skunk announced his coming. I haven’t spotted Mr. Stinky yet, and don’t care to. His noxious warning is my cue to swiftly head indoors. I have the uneasy sense he lives beneath our house, or maybe under the barn, a better thought. Despite Mr. Stinky, my twilight garden is a magical realm. The day might seem quite ordinary, but my dusky garden is anything but. God walks the garden at dusk, and again at dawn.

(Old watering can with iris as darkness falls)
(Foxgloves in my Secret Garden)

Grandma always called her vegetable garden the Chapel — it brought her closer to God, was full of miracles, and fed the hungering of others. ~Terri Guillemets

Climbing Out of the Rabbit Hole

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King…
~Emily Dickinson

If anyone wondered at my long blog absence and reappearance, I had a flare up of my weird form of chronic leukemia (T-cell LGL) this past year, resulting in many and persistent infections. After months on antibiotics, my oncologist started me on oral chemo. Heavy fatigue accompanied the med, but she tweaked my dose, the infections are better under control, and I’m feeling more myself. Not only that, but spring, the great motivator, launched me into action. Spring fever has me sowing dozens of flowers, sweet peppers, basil, tomato seeds, potting up dahlias (to give them a head start), digging holes for roses and scouring the garden for spots to plant the many new ones I ordered.

(Native Virginia phlox and coral bells)

‘The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light.’ ~Byron Caldwell Smith (1849–1877), letter to Kate Stephens (1853–1938)

I’m adding two varieties of dwarf delphiniums, and salvia, violas, peach colored hollyhocks…I started from seed. More catmint (nepeta), hardy geraniums, Oriental lilies, clematis, and lavender have gone into the Memorial Garden, or soon will. And the list goes on of roses, bulbs, and plants I’ve specially ordered or started from seed. I’m also putting in a salad/vegetable garden. It’s downsized from before but will still produce plenty of greens and veges. Mixing flowers with vegetables and herbs is a favorite of mine and is good for attracting beneficials to the garden. I’m sprinkling seed around like a flower fairy. 

Yes, I get quite tired, but after a good rest I return to the garden, digging, planting, dividing clumps of asters and phlox and, and. It’s truly a magical place, apart from our crazy spring weather that seems bent on wreaking havoc. After several days of ridiculously warm days, we’re windswept with a cold bluster and threated with frost. This is a recurring garden challenge in the Shenandoah Valley in spring. Another bullet is headed our way tonight. Fingers crossed we dodge it.

I’ve gardened forever, but my endeavors really took off when I decided to create the Memorial Garden after my dad and younger brother, Chad, died. This living memorial is also for my mother-in-law whose garden this was before me and who passed soon after my father. I got really serious about taking care of my plants and went stark rose mad. Once you catch rose madness, there’s no return, so take care. I’m now committed to caring for dozens of roses with more on the way. Can you have too many bulbs or roses? Nae. I’m also taken with Oriental lilies…

Stay tuned.

Now that I’ve recovered some energy, I might even work on my long-neglected time travel. Here’s hoping.

Lasagna Bulb Pot Garden

(Tulip and viola container gardens)

This fall I was on a bulb planting craze (typical for me), and still hadn’t lost my zeal by Christmas. An unseasonably warm start to winter lured me into ordering A Lot more bulbs when Holland Bulb Farms had an amazing sale. Boxes labeled ‘Open Immediately’ arrived as the temperature took a dive. Overnight, the ground was too frozen to dig without a drill and I wasn’t outfitted with specialty power tools.

An idea occurred. I’d seen something on YouTube about making container bulb gardens so flung myself into researching the how to’s of what is called Lasagna growing. The aim is to layer various bulbs, according to size and variety, in a large container with several inches of potting soil in between the layers. The bigger bulbs like tulips or daffodils go on the bottom of the pot and you continue upward until the smallest bulbs make up the final layer. The only snag was that I had never done this before, and any potted plants I’d ever left out over winter always froze solid. I lacked funding for the pricy frost/freeze proof pots I discovered online after learning about them from the brilliant British gardener, Monty Don.

After assembling my largest plastic, metal, and wooden pots (plus others), I fell to and filled each one with potting soil (my favorite brand is Proven Winners/P.W.) mixed with bags of compost and raised bed soil. It took a heaping lot to fill all these containers. I layered in various tulips, daffodils, alliums, hyacinths, miniature iris, and windflowers, finishing up with crocus and a generous dash of viola seed. I also tossed on Shirley poppies, sweet alyssum, tiny snapdragons and marigold seeds. The violas are thriving. All seedlings are battling for space. After every pot was crammed full of bulbs and seeded, I circled the containers in a nook outside my kitchen. Heat from the dryer vent blows that way and I figured that would help warm them. I wrapped the pots in old towels, topped with cardboard from Amazon boxes, and weighted each with rocks. Then I banked the pots with extra bags of soil and compost, like sandbags bracing for the river to rise. Over the assembly, I spread a blanket, tucked them in, and weighed it down.

You may ask, was this attractive? No. Not at all. But I reminded myself of the glories to come. Most of the bulbs survived to spring, except for the crocus that froze to mush. Crocuses were the top, most vulnerable, layer. The seeds are germinating like mad and don’t begin to have room in these stuffed full pots. Pity. I must rethink how to better do seeds next fall, but they’re coming up. Growing seeds outdoors in winter/containers really does work. Also, it’s recommended to start these lasagna bulb gardens in late fall instead of January, but my pots did well. Given enough protection, they don’t freeze solid.

I am gardening in zone 6b, in the windswept, at times bitter cold, Shenandoah Valley. If you decide to tackle this project, watch for super late season bulb sales and good potting mix. And may God bless all who grow with you.

(Tulip, hyacinth, and daffodils layered in pots.)

I’m moving the pots I can lift to other spots in the garden that need a pop of color. Safe to say they ARE hardened off now. True story.

Consider the Lilies

(Star Gazer Oriental Lily)

Liles reign in July. Their stately spires and glorious blooms take centerstage when the Japanese beetles are at their worse and my poor roses are frazzled and frayed. Two years ago, without realizing how big they’d get, I planted bulbs of a large white lily. The image accompanying the advertisement pictured the stalks towering over a small child, so I figured maybe waist/chest height for me. I had not yet heard of tree lilies and missed the image of these flowers rising above a women. The first season they were big but not like this second year. They’re taller than me. Lilies rise from the Memorial Garden like Jack’s beanstalk, with an incredibly sweet fragrance. Their pure white flowers scent the air, especially in the evening, but it’s always heavenly near them.

One of our Old Order Mennonite neighbors called me about these giants. She frequently passes our farm in her horse and buggy and has ample opportunity to admire the flowers. These lilies are like nothing she’s ever seen. If I get around to it this fall, I’ll divide this clump and give her several bulbs. I also grow the Star Gazer Oriental lilies and a variety of others. Lilies are magical additions to the garden. Last fall I fell all over Breck’s lily grab bag sale and wound up with quite a few new varieties. Exciting! But I was busy getting these bulbs in until Christmas. Fortunately, the ground wasn’t frozen hard. Last winter was mild. Who knows about 2021-2022?

My main challenge with lilies isn’t winter but spring. I mulch the bulbs well to discourage early growth. Even so, they are almost always lured out by an unseasonable warm spell in April and then zapped by frost. Every spring I’m out covering clumps of lilies to try and protect the sensitive stalks from the icy blast. If a stalk is hit, it’s gone. Tiger lilies are more resistant to the cold. I also grow daylilies and they can handle lower temps than the Oriental and Asiatic varieties. These beauties are worth the battle, I remind myself on those chilly spring evenings. They are royalty.

(Gorgeous white tree lilies)

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” ~Matthew 6: 28.

Lilies and I have a long history. I memorized this verse (part of a longer passage) as a child and proudly recited it for the entire school. Those were different days. It was a public school in Bristol, Tennessee. I’ve always liked this passage as it assures us of God’s care, but also because of the lilies. I loved flowers even then. I checked to see what variety of lily is referred to in this verse and it seems they are a native red anemone. Very pretty, but not what I’d envisioned. I guess something got lost in translation. Just as well, the word anemone would have gone over my head as a child.

(Above: Red carpet of flowers in Shokeda Forest, Israel. Image by Zachi Evenor.)

If you haven’t ever planted lilies, give them a go. Watch for sales. I have several dozen bulbs to get in the ground from a summer sale. I plant them in among the roses and other flowers. A perfect cottage garden plant, the look I aim for.

(Tiger lilies above)

(The big white lily again)

The Garden is a Magical Place


We’ve had a splendid June this year. To venture forth outside in the early morning is pure joy. The garden reveals fresh wonders no matter how often I go there. Even if the earth is parched, beads of dew sparkle on the glistening leaves like tiny jewels. Morning makes all things new. 

I’m incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by this mini Eden and gratified to help bring it to life. I also give nature and our creator, God, quite a bit of the credit. The garden is a magical place. God walks the garden at dusk and the fairies dance at dawn. 

As I reluctantly bid early summer adieu and brace myself for hot July, I will seek the beauty, and keep watch for fairies.

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.” ~Terri Guillemets

“In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.” ~Dodinsky

“I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

And with that, I agree.

My wildflower border is a medley of colors.

NA Historical Romance The Bearwalker’s Daughter–free in Kindle

The Bearwalker’s Daughter was inspired by a true account:

The ill-fated romance of a young captive woman who fell in love with the son of a chief lies behind The Bearwalker’s Daughter. As the result of a treaty, the young wife was taken from her warrior husband and forced back to her white family where she gave birth to a girl. Then her husband did the unthinkable and left the tribe to go live among the whites, but such was their hatred of Indians that before he reached his beloved her brothers killed him. Inconsolable and weak from the birth, she grieved herself to death.

Heart-wrenching, that tale haunts me to this day. And I wondered, was there some way those young lovers could have been spared such anguish, and what happened to their infant daughter when she grew up? I know she was raised by her white family–-not what they told her about her mother and warrior father.

Not only did The Bearwalker’s Daughter spring from that sad account, but it also had a profound influence on my historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song. Now that I’ve threaded it through these two novels, perhaps I can let go…perhaps….

The history the story draws from is raw and real, a passionate era where only the strong survive. Superstition ran high among both the Scots and Native Americans, and far more, a vision that transcends what is, to reach what can be. We think we’ve gained much in our modern era, and so we have.  But we’ve also lost a great deal. In my writing, I try to recapture what should not be forgotten.  Remember those who’ve gone before you.

As to bearwalking, this belief/practice predates modern Native Americans to the more ancient people. In essence,  a warrior transforms himself into a bear and goes where he wills in that form, a kind of shapeshifting. 

Blurb: A Handsome Frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irish Woman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter~

Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman who longs to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges–for her?~

The Bearwalker’s Daughter
 is available at: 
Amazon Kindle. (Free through Thursday February 4th)

“This fabulous historical fantasy story doesn’t hesitate from word one…Ms. Trissel’s alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding.” -Long and Short Reviews

“Winter and spring overlap at the seams…” ~Terri Guillemets

Thus far winter has been mild in the Shenandoah Valley. I haven’t yet needed a heavy coat to go outdoors. A thick gardening jacket, gloves, and a scarf will do. Last week found me still planting crocus and other small bulbs, unheard of in January. But the extended forecast suggests we are in for a stretch of colder temps, though not a lengthy period. The long range forecast points to a warmer February and March while still having some chilly nights. This works for me. After a snowfall or two, I’m satisfied that winter has paid us a respectable visit and we can move on to glorious spring, my giddy season.

The number of bulbs I’ve planted this fall/winter, added to the vast host already in place, promises a stunning display of color, fragrance, and beauty. And there are forget-me-nots, iris, peonies, violas, roses…a wealth to look forward to. All seems possible and probable in January. I’m filled with gardening schemes and dreams.

While I contemplate digging up the front yard, (an annual dream) I grow lovely things in my window garden and the sunspace, and I’m starting seeds. The garden makes me happy and I feel more deeply connected to God and the dear ones who’ve gone before me who also loved the good earth. And since I’m quickly done with winter, I’ll beat the groundhog to his prediction, whatever it may be, and declare an early spring. You’re welcome.

More images from my window garden to brighten your day.

(Amaryllis, orchids, cyclamen, paperwhites…)

‘Spring stirs under silent snow.’ ~Terri Guillemets

‘Winter and spring overlap at the seams
chilly breezes and warm green dreams!’
~Terri Guillemets

‘Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.’ ~W. Earl Hall

Amen to that.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

This Crazy Year and My Garden

(Cyclamen in my window garden)

How can I describe 2020? Covid turned our world on its head in March and it flipped again in May with daughter Alison’s cancer diagnosis. The big C is bad anytime, but Covid makes it worse. These past six months I’ve supported her as she underwent emergency surgery and a grueling course of Chemo for colon cancer–stage 3. Her three children, especially two–year-old Charlie, needed a lot of attention (still do). Only a few of us, like her husband and the other grandma, could help with the kids because of their tight covid circle. Our area continues to be a hotspot. But we were amazed by the stream of faithful friends and neighbors who brought meals, ran errands, and did loads of laundry for the family. This generous outpouring made a huge difference, as did the countless prayers. We are eternally grateful. Shortly before Christmas, the oncologist declared Alison’s latest scans good. Thank God. She’s free from cancer treatment, apart from follow up scans and tests. It’s hard to believe this challenging episode is done. It seemed endless.

My indoor Window Garden.

In addition to helping Alison and the kids, I threw myself into the garden. Planting, pruning, digging–all that goes with gardening–lifts my spirts and calms my mind. Every time events threatened to send me up a tree, I ordered a rose for the Memorial Garden. I’d already planted a great many, but the number swelled with such a memorable year. When it got too late for rose planting, I ordered a LOT of bulbs and added tulips, hyacinths, crocus, daffodils, and lilies to the many lying dormant in the ground. When spring comes, they will burst forth with abundant color and fragrances.

When the weather grew too frigid to plant bulbs outside I turned to my indoor garden. Geraniums and rosemary brighten the sunspace and I add new amaryllis bulbs each fall. I’ve been given four orchids, several cyclamen, and acquired a variety of succulents. Bringing hyacinths into bloom early is on the agenda and I always grow paperwhites. Gardening, indoors or out, helps keep me sane. Hubby Dennis is putting up a greenhouse outside the sunspace which will give me more room for starting seeds. The dahlias daughter Elise and I dug are overwintering in an unused bedroom and I’ve ordered a few more flamboyant tubers. And tuberous begonias. *Of course.

Cyclamen in my window garden.

I’m still an author, guess I always will be, but writing has been on the backburner these past months. I felt as if I’d been holding my breath since Alison’s diagnosis and didn’t have the heart to venture into the writing world. I’ve relaxed a bit since her recent good news. Maybe I’ll finish that time travel I began B. C. –Before Covid. Meanwhile, two of my novels are free this week from Sunday through Thursday at Amazon. Promo has been nonexistent for me, so I figured I’d better do something.

Kindle Links (Free thru Thursday):

Historical Romance Novel Through the Fire: (Native American Warrior Book 2) – Kindle edition by Trissel, Beth, Trissel. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. (Free thru Thursday)

Will love inflame these two natural-born enemies in fiery destruction?

Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies.
English lady Rebecca Elliot, having eloped to America with a British captain, finds herself a widow. When she ventures into the colonial frontier with the militia to seek her uncle, she unwittingly enters a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn’t know them, especially those of the savagely handsome warrior who captures her body and her heart.

Time Travel Romance Novel Somewhere My Lass (Somewhere in Time Book 2) – Kindle edition by Trissel, Beth, Trissel. Paranormal Romance Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. (Free thru Thursday)

Will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?

‘‘The MacDonald comes’ warns Mora Campbell when Neil MacKenzie finds the young Scotswoman lying unconscious at the top of his stairs after he discovers his murdered housekeeper slumped at the bottom. Mora’s claim that she’s his fiancé from 1602 and was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, through ‘the door to nowhere’ seems utter nonsense. Neil thinks she’s addled from the blow to her head until his life spirals into chaos and the avenging Highlander shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past, but he must also remember. And fast.

Visit my Amazon Author Page at: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/

See you next year!

My Mum was a GI Bride from Northern Ireland by Patty Koontz

I’m happy to have my dear friend Patty Koontz here to share the fascinating, romantic, and touching story of her Irish mother and American GI father. Portions of Patty’s post and the wonderful images are part of an oral history project at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in Belfast, Ireland. Called The War and Me, the project features a collection of stories about GI Brides and the American presence in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. As their website says, most GI Brides have now sadly passed away, so it is often their children who tell their stories. This is Patty’s.

Patty: My beloved Irish Mum, Evelyn Vance, married my father, Luther M. Taylor, an American Sergeant, during WWII. Evelyn was born January 20th, 1925 to her loving parents, Thomas Vance and Alice McMaster Vance, in a quaint home nestled in County Down, Northern Ireland. Little did they know, their daughter would endure a life of many challenges.  Her courage, strength, and the adventures she faced, changed not only her life, but those of many others for years to come.  Her story is her legacy.

My Mum was a beautiful lady, both inside and out. It made me smile how people always complimented her on her long, thick red hair. I can still hear her soft Irish brogue and see her brown eyes sparkle as she shared stories of her family and homeland. Her Grandfather, William McMaster, from Portrush, Ballymoney, was a fisherman who died at sea. Unfortunately, his body was never found, and his death had a huge impact on the entire family.  Mum’s grandmother was a dressmaker/seamstress to help support her children, although one child was sent to live with nearby relatives, during tough times.

Mum bore scars on the left side of her chin and neck from a childhood incident that left her trapped inside a fiery room. She rarely spoke of the accident and was self conscious about the scars. Her hero, her father Thomas, rescued her from the blaze and saved her life. After losing all her beautiful hair, she was forced to wear a cap to school. Kids teased her about her cap until one day someone pulled it off.  She ran home in tears, but again, her father came to her rescue. With her family’s encouragement, she returned to school.

From the stories she shared, I believe my Mum was a wee bit of a tomboy.  She inherited her love for the ocean, (and how to swim with dolphins), her love for horses, dogs, and storytelling from her beloved Father and five devoted uncles.

On January 22nd, 1942, (just two days after her 17th birthday), my Mum received her recruiting instructions to The Women’s British Army (WBA). She had enlisted in the ATS.  (The thought of her enlisting at that age is still hard for me to imagine). Even though her mother was not happy about this turn of events, Mum was determined to do her part to help the war effort.

She served from 1942 to 1946 as a cook and assisted in the infirmary, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. The toughest thing she said she had to do was walk through a closed building filled with teargas, without a mask. She told me they were required to do this in case they ever encountered this situation. She also spoke about nightly blackouts, bombings in Northern Ireland, and food and clothes rations. A dear friend of hers was shot and killed during this rough time. Her best friend, Mary Flynn, served with Mum. They remained close and kept in touch until my Mum passed.

I love the story of how my parents met. During the war, occasional dances were held for the enlisted men and women. Mum and her friend decided to attend one evening, at a nearby recreation center/hall in Belfast. Due to the blackouts at night, the hall was also quite dark, but they enjoyed the music and opportunity for the break. Mum remembers starting to dance with a British lieutenant, and halfway through the song, she felt her arm slightly lifted. When the dance was over, my five-foot two-inch Mum (in heels), was escorted off the floor by a handsome six-foot four-inch American Sergeant. My father. Daddy always said it was love at first sight when he spotted her.

A few days later, my father was introduced to my Grandparents, and her five protective uncles.They welcomed him into the family, and from my understanding, they knew right away this was the man Mum would marry one day. They included my father in family meals and outings and treated him as their own son. Mum gave Daddy the grand tour of the legendary Antrim Coast, they walked the beach on Port Stewart Strand, (where I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit myself). 

I get goosebumps remembering how I walked through the beautiful places where my parents walked, hand-in-hand.  

I believe my Daddy enjoyed visiting the Mourne Mountains, as he loved the mountains that reminded him of home. My father often spoke of the kindness and hospitality the Irish people always showed him.

My parents soon married, on April 6th, 1945 at Cregagh Methodist Church in Belfast. Mary Flynn, Mum’s best friend who later became a nun, was her Maid of Honor, and Charles Chapman was my Dad’s best man.  

I was told my parents walked beneath a row of raised, crossed swords, held by both British and American soldiers, forming a line facing each other.  

How I wish there was a photo of that. Unfortunately, the only photo I have of their wedding is of their beautiful cake. The good luck symbol of the black cat inside the horseshoe hung beneath the cake on the left side of the table. 

I believe my parents wore their uniforms on their wedding day. A wedding dress was never spoken of.

After my father returned to the states, they corresponded in writing letters and by telegram until my Mum could obtain passage to come to the United States. With help, she obtained her immigration records and departed from Southampton, England on the ship named the USAT Saturnia, arriving in New York on June 1, 1946, over a year after their wedding.

She brought the handmade ship inside an old whiskey bottle, made by an elderly sea captain, that was given to her in memory of her grandfather who was lost at sea. My Mum said that she would never forget the first thing she spotted that welcomed her to the United States.The Statue of Liberty. That statue made a huge impression on Mum.

My handsome father, Luther M. Taylor, was born June 7th, 19221, son of Bertie M. and Ethel Taylor of Carroll County Maryland. After enlisting as a Private, in the US Army on July 3rd, 1942, he soon found himself traveling by ship, to report to Ebrington Barracks, located in Derry, Northern Ireland. My father earned the rank of Sergeant and also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the largest battles the US Army ever fought. He fell in love with not only my mother, but her family, uncles, the Irish people and the beautiful green countryside. He was sent to Holland for a short time, where he became fascinated with their windmills.

In 1984, Daddy built a windmill in my family’s back yard with colorful tulips enveloping his creation. His work of art was photographed and featured in the Carroll County Times newspaper, and in later years featured in the local “back in history of our town” paper section. 

My father, a tall, quiet man, worked hard all his life. He was a stone mason by trade and loved surprising my Mum by making wooden furniture.  His last project is that of an eight-foot-tall grandfather clock made out of cherry wood; at the bottom of the base, he engraved my Mum’s name, Evelyn, into a hand-carved shamrock. My parents continued to attend and enjoy dances at the local VFW for many years until their health worsened. My Daddy never spoke of the war. His family said he had changed when he came back to the states. He was wounded during the war and carried shrapnel in parts of his body.

Mum said my Daddy had seen too much, which haunted him until he died. He named his first-born son, (my brother), Robert, after his best friend who was killed in the war. My father only spoke of my Mum’s family, the fun he had with her uncles, and of the sincerity and hospitality he was given. Unfortunately, my father never returned to Ireland, but enjoyed working at home and in his community. One item he brought back with him from the war was a painting which hung in our family basement. Mum told us it was given to my father as a gift from a prisoner of war, in exchange for cigarettes my Daddy had given the man. 

Daddy’s love for his wife and children were his life. Sadly, he died on November 18th, 1986 from “old wounds” from the war. My father was happy spending time with Mum’s family in Ireland, and I sometimes wonder how their lives would have been if my Daddy had decided to live there.

A year after the birth of her first child, Mum was proud to pass her test and receive her US citizen papers on November 25th, 1949. She stood in front of a judge at the Circuit Court here in Westminster, Carroll County Maryland. Below is a copy of the handwritten letter she read to witnesses after receiving her papers. I truly believe she learned more about the history of this country from doing her own research, than I actually did from school. Her words brought tears to my eyes as I read the following, I’d like to share a few of her sentences that touched my heart:

“Freedom and What it Means. What a wonderful word, Freedom, do you know what it means?  We here in America can’t possibly know its meaning. Just think of the men and woman, yes and even children, who risk their lives each day for one little glimpse of freedom. Something we all take for granted. We here in America are free to worship, have freedom of speech, and have the right to vote, for whom we want in office. Have you ever stopped to think of the men who died for this great country of ours, and also the men who risk their lives each day to keep us free. Let us use the privilege we’ve been blessed with and pray for peace and a better world to live in for all mankind. And remember our pledge, one nation, under God with Liberty and justice for all.” She also wrote a prayer below that for the ending.

Mum was a goodhearted person who did not have an easy life. She was only able to return to her beloved Ireland when her own Mother was sick and passed away. Mum was always homesick, (especially during the holidays), but refused to leave her children. She was thrilled when her sister Pat and niece Yvonne came to the states to visit several times. I remember how heartbroken she was when they left to head home, as she somehow knew this would be the last time she’d ever see her sister again. Mum always said she felt fortunate, as she had two countries to cherish. She carried the memories of her family and homeland in her heart until she passed from heart disease and kidney failure on November 28th, 1994. Her love of God, of her husband, her children and grandchildren are what kept my mother going.

During my beloved Mum’s short life on this earth, her warm personality, compassion, and kindness touched the lives of many. She may be gone from this world, but her legacy and spirit lives on forever.

A final thought: Every year until my Mum died, we watched the famous Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne in one of our favorite movies, The Quiet Man. My parents enjoyed these actors, as did I. Knowing the lovely actress was born in Dublin, a little over four years earlier than Mum, I always imagined what a wonderful thing it would have been if they had met. I never did mention this to my Mum. I know it wasn’t meant to be, but I sometimes think, if only those four could have met, I’m sure they would have been great friends. Believing people would consider me foolish, I never voiced these thoughts, but the older I’ve become, the more I’ve found life’s too short not to share loving memories of my parents, which always help to brighten my day. I hope this brightens yours.

For Patty’s piece on her mother at the Northern Ireland War Memorial, visit their website at: http://www.niwarmemorial.org/

A talented storyteller, artist, and craftswoman, Patty inherited her love of all things Celtic from her beloved Mum.  For more on Patty, visit her Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Patty-Koontz/e/B01N7QZNGG

Her website at: https://pattykoontz.wordpress.com/

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