I’m Your Mama! Alive and Well!

My cup was overflowing. The insatiable need to know my maternal roots was beyond comprehension. Desperately Seeking Joan-Carmel O’Loughlin’s grave became my mission in life.

I had very little difficulty finding my mother’s birthplace and history, as a young person (under the age of thirty). It all happened in a flash. I had taken the long lonely journey from a London hostel to the house of Mrs. Boyne in Westland Row, Dublin, who took me out as a child from Goldenbridge industrial *school*. It was a good move on my part as within a half hour of telling the family that I had wanted to find the grave of a mother, whom I was told as a child by the religious that she was DEAD (very common story with survivors) I was in receipt of her family background history and home-place. It was staggering news to the ears to know from where she derived. It was not long afterwards upon meeting one of her six brothers that I discovered that she was in fact alive and well and only living a mere hundred miles from me in Birmingham. I simply broke down and wanted to lash out at the whole world for all the isolation and the lack of a family I had lost out on for the most crucial part of life – my childhood. The anger and a thousand other emotions all came to the fore together. I thought my brain would explode. I’ve never recovered from the painful experience. Analysis alone cannot bring back the lie that was told me by the religious in Goldenbridge. I know that I would have went in search of her as soon as I’d left the institution at sixteen years old, had I been told the truth that she had just vanished out of my life as a five year old. She told me herself that she’d expected me to come looking for her when I left the institution. When I finally encountered her for the first time at Victoria St. London, I knew that I’d found the jewel in the crown. What a sigh of relief! I would have lived in a matchbox with her. I remember thinking that for all the tea in China I would not have exchanged her for another mother – despite everything. Other survivors who grew up with me used to tell me that what I thought about my mother was purely and simply not reality based. They reminded me so often that she’d abandoned me. I could not express the anger of the abandonment, as I was so relieved to have discovered a huge part of my identity. The joy of that encompassed everything and camouflaged the anger. The new-found joy over-rided everything else.

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