"Abraham Lincoln, former President of the USA, was, if nothing else, a man who remained true to himself. At the very start of his Presidency he told the people that he desired to conduct the affairs of his administration in such a manner that if at the end of it when he came to lay down the reins of power, even if he'd lost every friend on earth he'd ever had, he would be content in the knowledge that deep down inside, he would at least have one friend left; himself.
This expression by Lincoln brought to mind a saying that my mother frequently espoused during my youth. She would often remind me, 'Whoever you fall out with, Billy, never fall out with yourself. That way you'll always have someone to fall back on who's dependable!'
This led me to the thought, 'But who am I?' Do we ever know who we really are? When we hear people saying that 'I need to find myself', are they speaking figuratively or are they questioning their paternity? Let's face it, folks, while the overwhelming majority of us can know that mum is our mum because we can prove she gave birth to us, does anyone ever know who their father was without a 100% up-to-date paternity test?
Mum was born on this day, the 24th of January 1922, although throughout her life she frequently told us that it was the 25th of January when she really came into the world. It is no great surprise to me, or any other Irish citizen, when a person's birth certificate doesn't precisely correspond with what is really accurate in date, name spelling, or even the origin of paternity! It was common in the lives of some Irish folk to grow up in their aunt's house only to discover in later life that Aunt Peggy was really a much closer relative. I have known a number of Irish people grow up with 'a big sister' who later turned out to be their real mum or a grandmother who they believed was their real mum.
I have always had an 'e' at the end of my name 'Forde', but two siblings plus a few cousins I know, haven't. I know that my English Grandfather entered prison in Ireland with an 'e' on his surname and came out without one! I even heard tell of an Irish uncle (now deceased) who lived between countries during a part of his life and when he became entitled to receiving his pension, he collected two until the day he died. He would have the one from the Irish Post Office collected on his behalf and posted across to England while he would collect his pension from the English Post Office himself. Both pension books would have the same surname, but an 'n' would be missing out of one of them.
Such misunderstandings became more common after the 1916 Easter Rising, after men 'on the run' who had spent years lying low gradually started to return to their homes and sticking their heads above the parapet again.
I also suspect that behind this process of confabulation and mystery merely lay the desire to have two names, two birthday cakes or have a blood connection with more than one family, just in case you fell out with one side or the other!
I am eternally grateful to you Mum for providing me with enough tales from the old country to have used in dozens of novels I have written under the umbrella title of 'Tales from Portlaw'. It bothers me not if they have their origin in truth or some old cock and bull yarn you once heard in the pub one day.
Mum died at the early age of 64 years on the 26th April 1986 and I know that she is at peace with her Maker, family, friends and herself. God bless you, Mum. I love you, but why in God's name do I have an 'e' on my surname when I've two brothers who haven't? "William Forde: January 24th, 2018