Posted on June 15, 2013
I never -physically- met up with my Grandfather on my Mum’s side. Grandfather Meyrick.
But in a funny way, I think I do know him. Quite well, actually. Let me explain…
You see, Grandfather Meyrick, a chemist by trade, was also a prolific scribbler. According to my mother, he was a bard of sorts. He wrote short stories and poetry. My mother would recite some of his poems from memory. I remember there was one, that was her favorite, and it was written to commemorate Grandfather Meyrick’s wedding day, sometime in the 1890’s. The poem was all about the happy newlyweds parading out of the Catholic Cathedral after the Holy Matrimonial Ceremony. A very happy poem. It involved a line, which as a child, I thought brilliant:
“Bing-bong, the bells rang out over the blessed Boyne”.
(the Boyne being a river)
(On proof reading, just before posting this story irrevocably to the Internet, I caught a mis-type here. I originally had the “e” in “bells” as an “a”, and the “g” in “rang” was missing. I say, what? I am so glad I caught that. Grandfather Meyrick would have turned in his grave)
He seems to have very much endeared himself to his family, and was a bit of a local character. Not without his failings, he seems to have had a tendency to drift from one grandiose idea to another. Never quite achieving everything he hoped for. Thus the family moved around quite a bit, as he tried hard to better himself. My mother sadly recalled a moment when she was a young girl, when she and my Grandmother stepped off the train in Dublin, after a long and tiring journey. They were moving house, yet again, while Grandfather was moving from job to job. Grandfather met them all at the train station, (Mother, young daughter and baby son), with a big smile, and said:
“Well, we’re not staying here!”
To which my Grandmother apparently replied, with a lot of feeling:
“Well, I AM!”.
And she did, for forty five years. She was sick of the upheaval of moving.
I actually think that particular move came after their time in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Grandfather Meyrick ran a chemist shop there, and, being a Catholic, got caught up in the sectarian strife. We’re talking about the year 1906 or so. Crazy stuff. Same hate as today. My mother was a little girl, and was visiting in the Chemist shop with her Daddy, when several men walked in with masks and guns. Presumably Protestant para militaries. One of them leveled a shotgun across the counter at Grandfather Meyrick, and told him to “get the hell out of Belfast”. Or he would be shot.
Ethnic cleansing. Nothing new. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
To perform this act in front of a little girl shows the caliber of thuggery at play. It certainly traumatized my Mother, who would talk about it, five decades later, still in a hushed tone of voice. With a certain look in her eyes. Fear… never forgotten.
What I remember most strongly is that my mother adored my Grandfather. There is no doubt that the pair were close, and his story telling at bedtime, and his poetry scribbling, all contributed to a depth of Father-daughter feeling. Sensitive and warm. Which makes it all the more head-shakingly sad, that not a single written line of my Grandfather’s writing is left. I remember as a teenager asking my mother: “Do you have any of his stories written down?” I really wanted to read them. And when she sadly answered that there were none, I remember the bitter pang of utter disappointment. Whatever my genetic makeup and psychological profile amount to, I don’t pretend to remotely know, but there is some tendency towards scribbling, verse, and an innate curiosity about who I am, and where I stand (or fall) in the Grand Scheme of Things. Oi! What is my little place in the Cosmos?
I know, for sure, that I am , partly, my Grandfather Meyrick. Warts and all. The “grandiose ideas” part in particular strikes a chord, albeit an uncomfortable one. Ditto the endless “roaming around” bit, unable to really ever settle anywhere. I’m not sure I recommend those Meyrick traits to my descendants, but if it rears its head again, a generation or two down the line, then nobody ought to be surprised. Don’t blame me. Some poor bugger will end up infuriating his little wife and young family, by endlessly trekking around the Cosmos, from Earth to Mars to Planet Sigma, back to Tipperary, and if he reads these words, (or ether absorbs them), he’ll maybe understand why. If he’s lucky, he’ll have a plucky little wifey, who will put her foot down and cry: “Enough!”
History repeats itself. And History repeats the repetition. My mother was also a scribbler. I don’t recall any of her poetry, but she wrote short stories. She often read to me at bedtime. I loved the nursery rhymes. She even had stuff published. A magazine called “The Catholic Truth” (I think) published quite a few of her articles, under the name Angela Meyrick, and she was very proud of the fact. At one stage we visited a small lake near Witmarsum in North Holland, where some old saint had gotten himself bopped off a long time ago. The year 780 or something crazy. His name was “Bonifatius” if I remember, and there was this funny yellowish white statue of him beside this pond. I was about six or so at the time, and bored stiff. I had no clue what all the fuss and excitement was about. Who the heck cared about some dude called “Boniface”? A far as I was concerned, “Boney-Face” was a clot for getting himself chopped up by the Huns, and he totally interfered with more important things in my life. In due course, my mother showed me the article she had written for “The Catholic Truth” (I think), and there was a photo of the statue of that old fogey. I noted it all in passing contempt, preoccupied as I was with more pressing things that children concern themselves with.
It is only now, as I look back, that I wish for copies of my Mother’s scribbles. She died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack in her sleep, when I was twenty three. That is now thirty eight years ago. She had always said I could have all her books. Fate decreed otherwise. Within two years, my father decided to marry again, and for reasons best left unexplained, he surgically and methodically removed every last trace of my mother’s presence in the house. I was living away, and when I returned, every last scrap of paper had been eradicated. Not one single photo even was left hanging on the wall. I have none of my mother’s writings. Nada. Zip. I find that strange, even eery.
It’s like a shadow on the wall, where there should have been a painting.
Times move on, and I wonder about my descendants. None of my three (two sons and a daughter) scribble much, if at all. Those restless, edgy, sometimes pestiferous genes will probably be picked up by some unfortunate down the road. It is to that grandson, or great grandson, that I look when I carefully post my unworthy doodles to the Internet. I don’t want him (or her) to feel that same deep disappointment that I have felt twice. A sense that I should have been able to read my Grandfather’s thoughts. That I should have been able to understand his world, and his Times,a whole lot better. A sense that I should have been able to read my Mother’s thoughts. A sense that I should have been able to understand her world, and her Times, a whole lot better.
In order to better understand mine…
I simply have grown to realize that Life comes at us in cycles. What is gone, is not gone forever. What is gone, is not irrelevant. It may not even be gone. At all. Time itself may be far less rigidly sequenced, progressing inexorably in one direction only, than we tend to think. It is easy to assume that Time never reverses, and merely goes forward, second by unchanging second, inevitably and indifferently.
How simple we are.
The same goes for Dimensions. There are only three dimensions? Four? Five? Are we sure? I’m very skeptical about the assumption that our knowledge is even remotely complete. What I do see is a tendency for people to dismiss what cannot be immediately seen (in the limited frequency range in which we “see”). A tendency to want to touch, feel, measure, dissect, invest in, buy, sell, trade in… or dismiss it all as irrelevant and uninteresting. Pity. Did you know that in Particle Theory they need ten dimensions to explain fermions, and a cool twenty six dimensions to explain bosons? That’s important stuff. You don’t want to mess with an angry, pissed off boson. I guess. What if there exist actually an infinite number of dimensions? We should be careful to avoid displaying our innocence (or ignorance) by thinking that we know mucho. And that we know much more (of course) than our ignorant ancestors, living back in the unmentionable Dark Ages.
(any age prior to, say, our birth date. Or, the date we officially turned teenager)
I’m perfectly content to be ridiculed for saying that I “sense” that there is much more to Life than three score and ten. Or twenty. What we do, really matters. What we think, what our parents thoughts, our grandparents. It all matters a lot.
* * * * *
I’m glad Grandfather Meyrick was a scribbler. It explains a lot. I imagine he was feeling, caring, somewhat confused, kind of intelligent, kind of dumb, but always very human. No mean bones, just kinda needing a good whooping occasionally. Needing a good little woman.
Quite loveable, in his own bumbling way.
I like him. Present tense. And he is alive and relevant, today, in this confusing, frenetic, blurring world. You could tell that if you were ever to meet his dozy, equally challenged…
So there I was, proofreading this piece, prior to sticking it up on the Internet. I was once again reading the bit about my Grandfather and his bride happily promenading out of the cathedral. That was the picture I had in my mind’s eye. Bells ringing. People throwing flowers, and cheering.
Then… sleepily… I read what I had (mis)typed.
“Bing- Bong, the BALLS RAN OUT over the blessed Boyne.”
Huh? My tiny mind reeled, the image of wedded bliss, bells ringing out, rapidly alternating with a pair of (…) thinking “Bugger this lark! We are OUT of here!” and promptly legging it like stink across the blessed river Boyne…
I just can NOT get that bizarre picture out of my mind. I fear I have forever mutilated the last remaining verse of my respected maternal ancestor.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 15, 2013, 12:28 pm