Dear Lorfink of Arabia,
I hope you haven't forgotten about what I said about Anne, a.k.a Matthew Cuthbert, two weeks ago. I promised that I would also write about my thoughts on Helen, but kind of forgot about it. But I'm fulfilling my promise now!
First off, I just want to say that of the O'Connor girls, they've kind of divided themselves into two groups, due to the way I've paid attention to stories. I have thought more about our great-grandmothers, Elizabeth and Anne the most, along with Peg. This is probably because our mother and grandmother have a lot of stories to share about them.
I'm named after Anne, I look like a carbon copy of our great-grandmother, and Therese is kind of named after Peg, but not exactly. Not very valid reasons for this, but they're my reasons. Helen, Mimi, and Big Judy weren't as prominent probably because Mimi was a nun and died when Mom was very young. Big Judy was married and also died when Mom was very young, and Helen was married. Basically, the three had lives separate from the Beirnes, while simultaneously being very involved with the Beirnes.
I feel that this attitude of not paying attention to them has been to my detriment. While Anne's journal was very interesting, I feel like I didn't adequately share the amazement of all the pictures. As my mother put it, the boxes were essentially Helen's life in pictures, from her First Communion in either the late 1910s or the early 1920s all the way to the early 1990s. Now I did know some things about Helen: she and her husband, Charlie, met Pope John Paul II when they went to Rome, completely one-upping our mother, grandparents, great-grandmother, and one of Mom's aunts having tea with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, she was at our parents' wedding, and she never got to have any children. I've always felt bad for her once I learned about her never having children, but I refuse to give any reasons why. Even though she's been dead for almost 25 years, no woman should have tales of their health blasted across the Internet by someone else.
Helen lived a very interesting life. She was incredibly active in her high school, her yearbook signed by many girls (It's definitely more interesting than my high school yearbook which consists of a picture of myself. I didn't even bother to sign my own face). She married quickly during WWII, in a borrowed wedding dress and then toured the Jersey Shore with her husband. There are pictures of the two of them over the decades, having adventures, plus a lot of Knights of Columbus stuff because Charlie was very into the Knights. Helen had her groups, which if her smiling face is any indication, she loved. Plus, she became a third-class relic when she was blessed by Pope St. John Paul II, although she wouldn't know that at the time. She definitely lived a very full life.
Now, in Anne's journals, she punctuated nearly every mention of Helen by saying that EVERYONE in Ireland said she was homely. At the end, she clarifies that, in Ireland, homely means friendly and home-like, not plain looking (At least it did in the 1960s). I rather like that, and it is definitely something I should practice more, instead of trying to ignore everyone I pass in the street. I like having a better grasp of who these women were, even though I never would have payed 60 dollars to mail them to New Jersey.
The Carbon Copy of Elizabeth Beirne,