Being part of family means that you always have someone you can turn to in times of need, and this extend also to our friends. No more so when our close friend found out that her mother had terminal cancer. We all pulled together and made sure that there was always someone at the end of phone to listen or just be there for her in anyway she needed. However it turned out to be a role reversal in a way as my friend and her family tackled the news in such a positive way, showing such strength, that it gave such comfort to others in such a sad time.
Their house was always a happy and noisy place and seemed to be full to bursting all the time with friends and family whenever we would go over after school.
Regardless of the time, there was always an open door and if you had missed your last bus or spent your taxi fare home, there was a bed to be had. Often what was to be a quiet night-in turned out to be a full-blown night out, and most nights out ended up back there.
So it was with this warmth and hospitality that my friend and her siblings made the house a happy, busy home; welcoming visitors who wished to share a quiet moment with their mum, who sat proudly in her bed receiving her guests. The last few days of her mum’s life were filled with family and friends coming to say their goodbyes and to comfort the family. She passed away surrounded by her loving family and friends and knew that she had had a happy life, leaving behind incredible beautiful children who had shown her all their love within her final days.
Coming from an Irish Catholic family it is traditional to have a wake at home. So in keeping with their mother’s wishes they did exactly that. On entering the house, laughter and lots of chatter could be heard from the lounge which was full to of family and friends sharing stories and memories. There were gallons of teas and coffees being churned out of the urn which had to be brought in to deal with the masses of visitors; people were bringing pots of soup or a cake freshly baked to be passed out amongst the guests. It was in a way sharing the loss and collectively mourning her passing, giving great comfort and peace and dignity to such a sad occasion. This is how my friend’s mum would have wanted it and would have done it exactly as they had done. It was keeping the tradition alive.
In contrast to the noisy lounge, her mum lay peacefully in a quiet room situated to the back of the house. Placed in a beautiful wicker casket, covered in a hand knitted blanket, candles situated all around the room and the strong scent of flowers which stood in tall stands either side of her casket. And as the sun shone through the white curtains, it felt as if I was standing in a small quiet chapel: the walls were covered in pictures of the family and the happy times they shared, allowing for others to share a moment and chat quietly about the times they had spent together.
I am so proud of my friend who showed great strength and courage, and regardless of her loss and sadness managed to give her mum the most incredible send off by celebrating her life and sharing this with others.
This is dedicated to Marion McGuire.
So in keeping with tradition here is a cake for her.
Banana and walnut loaf
3 mashed ripe bananas
250g caster sugar – extra for sprinkling on top
125g softened unsalted butter
2 medium eggs
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
120g walnut pieces chopped
- Set the oven to 190°C and grease a 1kg loaf tin or a round tin.
- Cream the banana and sugar together until fluffy.
- Add the butter and beat until evenly combined.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time adding a spoonful of the flour each time until combined.
- Sift in the remaining flour and baking powder and gently fold in.
- Add the chopped up walnut pieces.
- Pour into the tin and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40-50 mins until cooked in the centre. (check this by inserting a knife or skewer to come out clean).
- Allow to cool.