Back to Blog – death and renewal

I’ve been away from this blog for several weeks because my mother has died. With the funeral to arrange, relatives from the UK, Australia and New Zealand to contact, and our grief to cope with as well as the usual business of ordinary life to get on with, I hadn’t the time – or the heart.

My mother as a glamorous young woman

My mother as a young woman

But from a genealogy point of view, my huge loss has been balanced a little by some gains.  I’ll talk about those later.

My father died when I was quite young. He’d always told us family stories, but he didn’t speak much about his own life. I kept meaning to ask Mum more about it, but there was always something else to talk about, and there would be another time, wouldn’t there? Well, now there isn’t.

I wish I could send a message back in time to myself and say: “Just ask. Make the time. Take notes. Record her memories. Don’t lose them.”

But I am very lucky because she had, for several years, been writing down her own life story and her children and grandchildren will always have that.

I’m also lucky because it was on a visit to relatives in Australia in the 1990s that she finally tracked down our elusive Delaney ancestor, Nicholas. Our branch of the family had known his name, but nothing about his life before he came to New South Wales – or much about what happened after that, either.

Hidden truth

In fact, we’d been fed some myths, to cover up the facts, which were that he was a convict, an Irish rebel and a convicted murderer.

Thanks to the dedication of our cousins, we found out the truth about Nicholas Delaney and eventually wrote his biography and, when more stories came up, I started blogging about them. Finding new information about our ancestors was exciting for both of us, and Mum and I swapped facts and stories by email and over long chats around the table.

Mary Maude Delaney, nee Wilson, doing the weekly wash

Mary Maude on washday

There are still questions I want to ask her. Did you get any further with tracking down Mary Maude Wilson‘s mysterious mother, Sarah Emma? Where’s the evidence that James Thomas Richards‘ wife, Rebecca, was a foundling? And I so much want to share my new discoveries with her.

Some of these questions will never get an answer. But she’s not the only one I can ask.

One consolation of contacting relatives around the world is that they’ve shared some lovely memories of her with me, and some other family history as well. I’ve added some more twigs to our tree. And I’m going to go on letting them know about my discoveries, and hoping they’ll let me have their opinions and add to my knowledge. It’s wonderful to be in touch with my cousins again.

And I’ll always be grateful to Mum for getting me interested in genealogy. It’s a gift that has given me great pleasure, many frustrations and membership of an inspiring community of bloggers, tweeters and other fellow geneaddicts.



 © Frances Owen and A Rebel Hand, 2010-2014

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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19 Responses to Back to Blog – death and renewal

  1. Sharon says:

    Belated sympathy on the loss of your mother. This is a lovely way to honour her.

    She looks beautiful in the photo and would be looking down on your with pride.



  2. Pingback: The Bloggers’ Geneameme – my answers | A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798

  3. Catherine says:

    My condolences Frances. I’m far more sorry than words can even say.


  4. Pingback: Happy New Year! Accentuate the positive | A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798

  5. It was my Aunt Laura who put me on the path of genealogy, understanding the importance of recording, remembering and sharing the information about family. Her death was also very hard on me, she was very much like a mother to me. Kind regards and thank you for sharing.


  6. Pingback: Two today! | A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798

  7. Crissouli says:

    I’m way behind with reading blogs, so have only just come across this. My sympathy goes to you, Frances… farewelling loved ones is hard at any time, but so much harder with our parents. What a wonderful legacy your Mum has left you, introducing you to genealogy. This will always be your link with her… she truly was a beautiful lady by her photo. Don’t ever fret over the differences, we are all our own people and it’s the differences that often unite us as well as as divide… there can never be enough time for all the questions we need to ask. Your mother’s journals and the contact with family will surely provide you with many answers as time passes. May she be at peace.


  8. cassmob says:

    My sympathy of losing your Mum Frances. It’s not surprising that blogging has taken a back seat. Perhaps following her lead with more family research will slowly help to relieve the sense of loss. I guess no matter how many questions we do ask, there are always regrets: about life, not asking questions etc. It’s wonderful that she left her memories for all of you to enjoy. She looked absolutely beautiful in that photo. Look forward to hearing more of your stories.


    • rebelhand says:

      Thank you – the research certainly feels like a lasting link with her and I’ll always be grateful to her. Thank you, too, for your kind words and sorry I haven’t replied before.


  9. Welcome back Frances. It is small steps and we all deal with our grief in different ways. Mums are a very special part of our lives and we can count ourselves so lucky when we have loving relationships with them. Sadly some aren’t so lucky. I know exactly what you mean about “I should have asked mum this or that or recorded her memories” Lovely blog and I look forward to reading more from you again.


  10. Fi says:

    So sorry to read of your loss. Lovely to have you blogging again.


  11. BigSister says:

    What a lovely way to honour your mother, and so wonderful that she saw through your joint project. She has given you a unique legacy.


  12. Lovely blog, Frances. And it’s nice to see you back in the saddle again.
    – Fifi x


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