My grandmother traveled by ship from Ireland to Boston at the age of 14.
Once on a visit up to Maine someone asked what was the year of her arrival and Nana responded, “The Year of the Crow.”
None of us knew what she meant by that.
My mother hazarded a guess.
“It refers to the Chinese Astrological signs.
“There’s no Year of the Crow in the Chinese Astrology,” commented my Aunt Gloria, who had graduated from a state university for teaching.
“There is a Rooster.” Her husband Jack had met enough Chinese troops in Korea as a Marine. “But all I ever heard was trumpets. Lots of trumpets.”
“What year was it?” My Aunt Helen worked as an operator for the New England Telephone Company. She liked a simple answer.
Nana wasn’t giving one.
“Is it Babd?” asked my Aunt Mary. She had gone to college too.
“Babd?” My father was stumped by this answer.
“Babd, the Irish battle goddess, was a crow. She sang a song to those about to die.”
“I shall not see a world that will be dear to me.
Summer without flowers,
Kine will be without milk,
Women without modesty,
Men without valour,
Captures without a king.”
The look on Nana’s face shined with pride. Her oldest daughter was a true daughter of Eire, but she shook her head.
“Maybe someday one of you will be smart enough to know the Year of the Crow.”
She patted my head and that of my older brother.
But none of discovered the truth and with last week’s passing of my Aunt Gloria I pass our ignorance onto the next generation.
And we are many.