I am moved and inspired by haiku heights word prompt this week, which is ‘Pain’.
On Saturday my daughter went through the pain of childbirth and produced a wonderful son, Stanley Jack. That pain was worth going through.
A cold winter’s day
An arrow of agony
A baby is born
On Sunday my husband bent down to pick up a basket of logs for the stove and his back gave way. That pain was definitely not worth going through! By Thursday my husband’s pain was so bad he was kept in hospital where he still is. Although he is very brave it must be a pain to have so many pills, injections, procedures and tests when he is already on dialysis 3 times a week and chemotherapy alternate days for an existing condition! He has a very high pain threshold but this back has beaten even him.
Advancing in age
Every movement is torture
On Monday I saw a homeless person sitting in a doorway in the bitter cold and wet. I feel for him in his physical discomfort but also in the pain of alienation from the community and rejection by society that he must feel.
Hopeless and homeless
Shivering in the shadows
Harbouring his hurts
Looking round the town decorated for Christmas, I am struck by the contrast between the glitzy shop windows, the festive decorations, the singing of the choirs in the streets ~ and the horror of homeless young people, male and female, huddled in doorways.
Two thousand years on
Young mums still search for shelter
Crisis at Christmas
On Tuesday I was reminded of a child I once took to Lourdes. She was 10 years old and gravely ill. She needed a heart and lung transplant, which she eventually received. sadly she died before the year was out and her funeral took place on Christmas Eve. I will never forget her bravery. She wrote her own funeral mass sheet and drew pictures of rabbits on it. She chose the music from Watership Down to be played at the service.
When treatment has failed
And the torment is over
Bright eyes close in pain.
Today sitting at home alone I am reflecting on the pain of having family scattered all over the world. But how lucky I am to have email, facebook, mobile phone and text messaging. My family are instantly updated on my husband’s condition and they instantly respond with supportive calls and texts.
Tender the ties that
bind families together
Hearts bleed when they break
It was not so easy to stay in touch in the 19th century. I have been researching my family tree and discovered a tragic tale about my great grandfather, William Patrick Roche, who suffered from the pain of losing his birth family for the whole of his life. According to an old letter written by his granddaughter, my Aunty Nancy, William was born in Ireland in County Cork in 1840. His mother and father had 8 children, but after the last baby his mother died. The Irish Potato Famine was in full swing so William’s father could not manage all of the children on his own so he remarried. His new wife did not get on with William. So a sea captain friend was paid 40 guinees to take William Patrick to sea and train him. William was 12 years old. The rest of the family went on one of the ‘Famine Ships’ which sailed from Cobh to America.
Bound for a new life
But crammed into coffin ships
No comfort nor hope.
I searched the records at the National Archives in London and traced the original document which William’s father, James Roche signed. The date was 2 February 1855. The ship was HMS Conway and it was a Royal Navy flagship. The commanding officer was John Fulford. William’s birthdate was given as 17 March 1839! Whether this was a true birthdate to make him look old enough, and because it was St Patrick’s Day, I don’t know but it makes him 16 when he signed up not 12 as the family history has him! He was contracted as “Boy 2nd Class” to serve in the Royal navy for 10 years from his 18th birthday plus the time before he was 18 so that means 12 years, or up to 1867. I believe I have traced him on the 1861 census serving on a ship called “Victor Emmanuel” in the Meditterranean. I have not managed to trace him on the 1871 census so it may be that he was on a merchant vessel, sailing overseas on tea clippers at this time.
After William went to sea in 1855 he never saw his family again because their father and new wife emigrated to USA with the other children.
Fleeing the famine
Fragmented Families sailed
To an Isle of Tears
William eventually became 1st mate on Tea Clippers that sailed between China and UK. One day he sailed into Glasgow and decided to take a trip to the highlands of Scotland. Near Inverness he saw a young girl sitting on a farm gate. her hair was so long she could sit on it. He thought she was beautiful and decided there and then that he would come back when she was older and marry her. Jessie Miller (born Munro) was her name. Her mother had died when she was 9 years old so she and her sister had gone to live with an aunt who had a farm for them to work on. 3 years later William Patrick came back for Jessie and they married and went to live in Sunderland. He became an optician and Jessie had 8 children. One of them was Lizzie Roche who was my grandmother. Sadly Jessie died in 1907 when she was just 50. William went on to reach the age off 76 dying in the Newcastle Royal Infirmary in 1916. He often travelled to Dublin to try and trace where his family had gone. He also put adverts in American newspapers. But he never did find any of them again. Today with the internet I am hoping to continue the search on his behalf.
“O the tender ties
Close twisted with the fibres of the heart,
Which broken break them, and drain off the soul
Of human joy; and make it pain to live.”