Mrs Patty Stapleton
Almost seven years ago to the day I sat down to write an appreciation to my recently deceased father Paddy Stapleton and now again I find myself on a dark miserable Monday afternoon in November sitting writing an appreciation to my mother Patty.
When writing my dad’s piece the words flowed and my heart wasn’t as heavy, but as people have said losing your mother is a finality, the bond is gone, the umbilical cord is cut forever. Johanna Patricia Robinson was born on the 13th March 1928 at West Street Callan to Jim and Margaret Robinson.
For some reason Patty never liked the name Johanna so from an early time she was always known as Patricia or Patty. She was one of ten children three of whom died in childhood. Jim Robinson hailed from Foyle Tullaroan and as a young man drove a troop carrier for the Free State Army Pro Treaty side under the command of Michael Collins while his wife Margaret (nee Holden) was a member of Cumann Na nBan on the Anti Treaty side so it was always an interesting house when my mother was growing up with her own leanings towards her Father’s politics a father whom she adored.
The family moved to Kilmurry in Slieverue Parish in the early 1930’s as her father had been appointed Road Overseer with Kilkenny County council and they later settled on Belmont Road Ferrybank where the homestead is still in the family today. Early school for Patty was in Slieverue and later in Waterford at the Vocational School.
When she left school her first employment was at the Radio Factory in Ferrybank and later as a silver service waitress at the famous Savoy Restaurant in Waterford City. With many relations living in Callan and Tullaroan visits back to Callan were frequent as well as Tullaroan. In those times cars were few and far between but her dad Jim was one of the few with a car.
During the Second World War years there was a shortage of petrol so the car had to put up on blocks undercover until the end of the war. As a child she would have visited with her mother Margaret to Margaret and Johnny Butler on Clonmel Road Callan with her mother.
The Butlers were related to my late Paddy's mother Brigid and when he was nine weeks old his mother passed away so the childless couple John and Margaret took baby Paddy as their own.
It was on those visits that Patty came in contact with little Paddy. Little did they know that in 1947 when they were introduced by Patty’s Cousin Bid Holden and cycle to Pattern dance near Callan that from there a 54 year romance full of love blossomed until Paddy's passing in November 2010. Our mother was a hoarder and very sentimental.
She kept every letter that was written to her and when my sister Marguerite and I were sorting through our mothers belongings after her passing we came across wonderful love letters written to her by Paddy dating back to 1947. Paddy of course during their courtship was excelling at hurling and it appears Patty was doing the chasing as she spent more time in Callan than Paddy did travelling to Belmont Road.
In 1953 after six years of courtship Patty left for London to live with her married sister Biddy. She worked at Woolworth's and later Marks and Spencers on Oxford Street. It took Paddy a year to realise what he was missing and in 1954 he moved to London to be near Patty.
They married in 1956 in London and moved back to Ireland in 1957 and from that time lived in Limerick, Dublin Ennis, and Kilkenny and finally settled back in Callan in 1971. We all can say our mothers were wonderful, but she was just that a totally dedicated wife and loving mother. At different stages in her life she suffered ill health but she was a battler and no matter how poorly she was she was always the first up in the morning sorting lunches for her three children to get us away to school.
She was a very quiet person and very reserved but loved her clothes and fashion. Many people, since her passing, commented on how stylish she always was and yes even up to the time of her passing she liked having a choice of shoes and blouses to pick from.
The biggest blow to Patty and Paddy came on 31st July 1992 when their world changed forever with the news of our Brother Jim’s sudden death. Things changed dramatically for both of them and pushed both of them into poor health. Losing a sibling is hard enough but to lose a child has to be the most harrowing thing ever to happen a parent. Jim was the apple of my mother’s eye and his death had a devastating effect on her.
But it was her profound faith that got her through that dreadful time and when Paddy retired from poor health a year later they became well known figures each morning walking down Clonmel Road to 10.30am mass.
When our dad became a resident of Strathmore Lodge Nursing home in mid 2010 Patty went live independently as a resident of Mount Carmel and in May 2012 she came under the care of Sarah McGrath and staff at Strathmore lodge. It was a huge wrench for Patty to leave her home at Clonmel Road but she knew that she would receive the best of care at Mount Carmel and Strathmore Lodge.
While living in Kilkenny in the late 1960’s Patty went to night classes to learn dress making and my memories during that time was of the Singer Sewing Machine of the Kitchen Table while she ran up a new dress pattern for herself or my sister.
Reading was her great love and she read the daily newspaper from back to front. The Callan Library next door was a god send to her and it was nothing unusual for her to read three books in a week. She continued that love of books in Strathmore and it is no exaggeration to say that she read hundreds of books right up to the week she passed away. There were evenings I would pay a visit to see her and there she was engrossed in a book. I would know if the book was a bit ‘Spicy’ because I would be dismissed fairly quickly. I never let on but I used to have a good laugh and delighted in the fact she had a very active mind still and such a strong heart.
Her health in those last five years had many ‘peaks and troughs’ but Patty always battled back and defied all logic in fact her Doctor, Jim Ryan said she was one of the most incredible patients he ever had under his care. Her great joy was her Grandchildren Amy and Jane and both those little ladies were a new beginning for Patty and Paddy after Jim's passing. The girls also reminded that Granny was a good cook but when it came to making gravy she was a disaster and too right they were, her ‘lumpy’ gravy was legendary in our house.
She loved having young people around and our house was an open house. Friends loved coming because they knew there were always great treats at Stapleton’s. That was my mother Patty the woman with the biggest heart.
She went to meet Paddy at that Pattern dance again on the 14th October 2017 and no doubt they are reliving those dancing times together again. The meeting again with the ‘apple of her eye Jim’ will have been wonderful too and no doubt she is cooking those big Steaks which he loved all over again.
The passing of a mother has a huge effect on those left behind and the stark reality is that’s its final. As a good friend described it some years ago after the passing of both her parents, that she was an Orphan now and that's so true for Marguerite and myself, but heartened in the fact she gave us a good life to the point of spoiling us and she certainly did.
My wife Una was a regular visitor to see Patty and spent long periods with her during her time at Strathmore Lodge and it was fitting that Una was present along with her granddaughters Jane and Amy when Mam passed away.
Jim’s son Simon has only come into our lives in recent times but Patty would have been so proud of him and a couple of days after her passing her first Great grandchild Arthur James came into the world. Marguerites husband Nick the big Scots man was very fond of Patty and he will also miss her as will her sisters Peggy, Maura, Kathleen and her only surviving Brother in Law John along with many Nephews and nieces.
Patty’s months mind mass takes place at the 6.30pm mass on Saturday next 2nd December.