“Other Mama” (taken around 1947. )
“Up home” — The House on Cottage Street (taken by Kat in 1989)
Alice Gouthreau McNeil, my Great-grandmother. She married Neil. F. McNeil and she gave birth to six daughters, Mary Lucy (known as Lucy), Mary Josephine (who became Sister Agnes Eucharia), Sarah Catherine (Katie – my Grandmother), Clara, Marguerite (known as Margie), Anne (called Annie) and Matilda (called Tillie), as well as three sons, Malcolm, Stephen and James.
I’ve heard talk of her over the years as being the sweetest, kindest, most loving person anyone could know. My mom and her siblings referred to her as “Other Mama” since they not only loved her enough to call her that, but spent almost as much time “up home” at her house at 6 Cottage Street in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, as they did at their own home at 9 York Street. They headed there after school-mornings, for their lunch and enjoyed family dinners at the big wood table in the dining room on Sundays.
I can tell by the restrained smile and the slight twinkle in her eyes that she was a good woman. By the way she’s dressed up, I think this may have been a photo taken before going to church, perhaps at Christmas since she has a corsage. I love the way she wears her hat so jauntily in this photograph and the corsage that testifies to the love of nature and flowers that she passed on to her daughters, especially my Great-aunt, Clara. Clara lived in the house on Cottage Street long after “Other Mama” died. Clara kept the most beautiful garden of sweet peas and tiger lilies and other pretty flowers. I never met my Great Grandmother, but I felt her presence while sitting at the dining room table in that house and whenever I strolled under the lattice archway or bent to smell a rose in the garden.
She died in 1950 at the age of 78. My mother’s voice fills with wistful emotion when she speaks of her. She left an indelible impression and I wish I had known her.
Sepia Saturday is ordinarily coordinated by my very good friend, Alan Burnett of the News From Nowhere blog. As he is on a well-deserved cruise-vacation with his lady-wife, I am pleased to assist him by posting all participants of this feature for the next few weeks. Please advise me in a comment if you wish to be included in the links’ list below. Thank you.