Katy McKenna Raymond  
Personal blog of christian writer Katy McKenna Raymond in Kansas City, Missouri

Personal blog of christian
writer & fallible mom
Katy McKenna Raymond
in Kansas City, Missouri

Katy is represented by
Greg Johnson at
WordServe Literary

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Upon The River’s Shore

In February of 1926, my Grandpa Bernard booked a passage in steerage aboard a cattle boat called the Magpie.

My father, age four at the time, always said that his da had left Grandma and the children behind in Scotland to go visit his parents back in Ireland. He was only to be gone a week, Dad said, but then he ended up being gone, well…forever.

Today, I looked a bit too closely, perhaps, at my grandparents’ marriage certificate. I’m trying to make a timeline of family members, places, times, and events, trying to superimpose it upon the events of a troubled and troubling bout of Irish history, trying to find some answers that make more sense than the ones I’ve been given.

I looked too closely and noticed for the first time that my grandfather’s parents were both dead by the time he and Grandma got married. He couldn’t have been going home to Ireland to see his parents, and he himself hadn’t lived there for more than twenty years by the time he decided to take the journey back.

There’s a mystery here somewhere, that much I know. My father always told us that his da, who drowned after falling from the boat in the River Clyde, was never found. Until four years ago, when a Scottish cousin I met online provided articles from the Glasgow Herald to prove otherwise, I accepted Dad’s story.

But my grandfather’s body did eventually wash up on the shore, several months after he went missing, and several miles closer to home along the river bank than he’d been the dark morning he died.

I couldn’t help thinking about these things as I shuffled through birth and death and marriage certificates today. I couldn’t help wondering at the mysteries we the living must unravel during our short stay upon this earth.

I put pen to paper then, to jot down the information from my Grandpa’s death certificate on my sketchy timeline. I automatically wrote the year 2006, instead of 1926, and laughed at my silly mistake. Until I looked more closely and realized I’d written today’s month and day, too: April 11.

But he died in February, I said to myself. Why did I write today’s date instead?

I looked at the death certificate once more and saw two dates: the morning of his disappearance into the water and the day the River Clyde finally gave him up—April 11, 1926.

On this very day, eighty years ago, Grandma Mary, surrounded by fatherless children, opened her door and someone—who, I wonder? someone she knew and loved, I hope—told her the end of the story of his life.

Tonight, I’m thinking of her, and of my father—gone himself these twenty-two years—and my aunts and uncles, all dead now, too. As much as I wish I could, I can’t write them a better ending, but I’m starting to believe there’s a middle to this story that’s never been told.

And I believe I’m the one to tell it.

Posted by Katy on 04/11/06 at 08:24 PM
Fallible Comments...
  1. katy,
    you're wonderful! i'm fascinated by the info you shared today. i stumbled into your blog a couple of months ago and have read a bunch of the archives. you seem like a friend now (a one-way friend. enough of a friend that i'm intruiged by your family history and hope you find satisfying answers to the mysteries.)

    thanks for blogging & take care,
    (31-yr old wife and mom of two boys, avid reader, personal trainer, cancer survivor, team-in-training cyclist, and fallible junkie) :)
    Posted by jen  on  04/12/06  at  01:13 PM
  2. Jen--Well, you've made my day! (Actually, two days, since I'm late in responding...) Welcome here, and I'm so glad you've had a chance to read back a ways. My hubby mentioned last night that he'd like to see me go back to writing more vignettes like I used to, and it got me to thinking. I guess maybe what I was writing five years ago and what "happens" now are pretty different. Ah, well...such is life!

    I am amazed by all your accomplishments and Lord knows I could use a personal trainer!!!!! I am pathetic in that department, and always manage to injure myself when I exercise. Any suggestions for a girl with herniated discs in her neck? I can only lift a couple of pounds without a problem.

    Oh, and you're also a fallible junkie???? That's a first, and I think I like it!! :)

    Yes, we shall make fine friends.
    Posted by Katy  on  04/13/06  at  07:39 AM
  3. to be honest (i'm in the mood), as a trainer i wouldn't touch you with herniated discs. herniated anything scares me. but i'd take you to starbucks in a heartbeat! (well...to continue the truthfulness trend, i hate their coffee and every time i go to my favorite cafe and see the bumper sticker that says "friends don't let friends drink starbucks," i laugh. still friends?)

    (no segue)

    we just moved from your neck of the woods last summer--we spent five years in wichita (loved it, great place). we're back "home" in pennsylvania now, although this was move #25-ish for me: military brat, so "home" is always in " "s.

    i'm gonna throw a quandary at you. i was trying to access fallible at a panera (not the aforementioned favorite cafe) and their internet-police blocked the site for "hate/violence/racial something." threw me for a sizeable loop. any clue as to why that happened?

    Posted by jen  on  04/13/06  at  08:28 PM
  4. Jen--I don't know the answer. I get a lot of comment spam of all kinds, and I try to keep up with deleting it, but I might have missed some. Also, I do use the word "panties" with some regularity, but I'm not sure that qualifies as hate/violence/racial something. Sometimes I hate particular panties with a violent vengeance, but my hatred of them has never had racial overtones that I'm aware of. If anyone else knows why fallible is banned in Panera's, please let me know! Is it something I wrote?

    Jen, I have never seen that bumper sticker! Truly hilarious!
    Posted by Katy  on  04/13/06  at  09:01 PM
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