Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mentors

Where we played as children in Ireland, Martello Tower

During our recent road trip we had lots of time for conversation and reminiscing.  A topic we spoke of was our Mentors, who were those special people who appeared in our lives and were our guardian angels.  We spoke of those outside our immediate family.

This is where we headed each morning to play as children - the marker is referred to as an Irish Mile Stone


Without a doubt, my Aunt Helen  (Glynn)Ryan was my first mentor.  She was born in **"Cluainin" Aughnish, Kinvara, Co. Galway Ireland in 1905, one of 8 children, my father being the baby of the family.

Helen Tilston and Helen Ryan on my wedding day 1981

Where we played as children. Seals would rest here and we used give them names

The two Helen's on my wedding day

Three of her siblings died from meningitis c 1918.  At the age of 18, with her sister Beatrice they sailed to New York.    She married, had three sons  and lived in a charming cottage with a 2 acre garden on Long Island.  An avid gardiner, roses being her specialty. During visits to Ireland she would always pocket some seeds but never managed  to grow shamrocks. In her garden was a grotto beneath an oak tree.


She was a baker, cook, knitter, sewer, crafter, painter and designer.  Once I could write she became my pen friend (my father used say they gave me her name and it was a big honour and a blessing to get someone's name). The letters would arrived with the beautiful American postage stamps, which I saved in my *didie box.  As an adult and living in North America, I visited Aunt Helen at least 4 times a year. She had integrity.  Her day was meticiously planned.  Up at 5 a.m.  Tea and a light breakfast. A one mile walk to 7 a.m. daily mass  then her daily chores of housework, gardening and planning. From 3 p.m daily she worked in her studio or sunroom.
Minton Persian Rose patterened china

  Her china was Minton Persian Rose.She was a Matriarch and, loving to entertain, she had a 24- place setting of Persian Rose china. What was most remarkable and memorable was the rug in her dining room (9 x 12 ) which she designed and needlepointed in the pattern of her Minton Persian Rose.  Aunt Helen was disciplined and looked stern, yet she loved to hear witty stories and loved music. She lived her life by example.  She had no need to criticize nor judge others.
At her funeral many came up and told how she had touched their lives. Many had learned from her. She taught me needlepoint and the hours drifted by as we engaged in our art.

*a didie box is a box a young girl employed to keep her most important treasures, ribbons, shells and buttons for me*
**"Cluainin** was the name of our farm, my father being the surviving male inherited the farm and it was there I was born.  On our farm was the Martello Tower pictured above and this is where we played as children.  Today it is used as a weekend retreat.

Who were your mentors?

59 comments:

  1. Dear Helen,

    Such a beautiful ode to your aunt Helen. She must have been a special lady.

    I am not really sure who my mentors are. I have been inspired very much by my two grandmothers, who were both totally different, but a source of inspiration to me. Although they passed away a long time ago I still have fond memories of them.

    Wish you a happy weekend,

    Lieve groet, Madelief x

    *I forgot to mention that you and your aunt look beautiful on your wedding photo!

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  2. What an absolutely beautiful post, Helen. I love the photographs of your wedding day. And the concept of a didie box is a universal one.

    I'd say I've been sort of hungering for a mentor all of my life and have mostly found (many of) them in books.

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  3. Dear Helen,
    Your thoughtful post made me think of my maternal grandfather-'Gramps' I adored him and know I was special to him. He told me entrancing stories and introduced me to books that I still love today. Oh, how I wish he had lived to see my children! Jane x

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  4. What a wonderful childhood, Helen! To have had a Martello Tower on your own property must have been idyllic for you - romance and adventure so close to home. Your aunt Helen was clearly a matriarch who earned that dignity in the best way, and the pictures of you both are beautiful.

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  5. Helen,
    What a heartfelt and beautiful tribute to your auntie! We need more of her types around to keep the backbone of the world a little more upright and true. I, like Suze, am still on the lookout for such a guide. But I think it might be getting a little late ;)

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  6. your aunt sounds like a very special lady, you were lucky to have her. x thanks for visiting and following

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  7. Oh, Helen, what a lovely, lovely post.

    Two of the women I loved most in the world were named Helen, my mother and my mother-in-law. I adored my mother-in-law, she was like a second mother.

    Thanks for the memories.

    xx,
    Tish

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  8. Hi Helen
    What a wonderful and moving story. Your story reminds me of how special my Grandad was to me....it was a privilege to have him in my life if only for fourteen years. Thank you for your lovely comments.
    Love
    Jo xx

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  9. Dear Helen,
    I love this post and the photographs of you and your Aunt are wonderful.
    I would very much have liked a mentor, and as Suze commented, I have also found them in books.
    I remember being very excited as a child on receiving letters from America. They were from an Uncle of my Fathers who left Ireland to make his home in Long Island when he was a young man. I remember my Father telling me he married a relative of Ethel Merman, but I can find no more information as he passed away when I was young. Sadly all his family from England are also not living, so I have no links to draw information from.
    It has been lovely to read your story about your memories of your Aunt, and thank you for sharing them.
    Abby xx

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  10. I loved the photo of the two Helens on your wedding day. It's like you are exchanging secrets of life; the passage of wisdom frozen in time forever. This is a beautiful tribute to the Helens we all know, and those we want to be.

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  11. Hello Helen:
    What a wonderful tale of two Helens!! Clearly your Aunt was a marvellous mentor, accomplished in the Creative Arts, a wonderful homemaker and a wide circle of friends. She has obviously had an enormous impact upon you and you write about here with such tenderness. Athough formidable in terms of her talents, she was clearly warm hearted and loved by many.

    Although we should not use the term 'mentors', two very close friends of ours are certainly role models. Now well into their 80s, they travel widely, dress stylishly, are interested in everyone and everything they meet and have a wide circle of friends both old and young.Where they lead.......only problem, they are seriously good cooks!!!!

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  12. Hello Madelief
    I have no doubt your grandparents made an influence and how lovely you knew them. I feel very blessed to have had Aunt Helen in my life, we had a definite bond and I respected and admired her tremendously. Thank you for your comment on us on my wedding day.
    Have a beautiful week.
    Helen xx

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  13. Hi Suze, thank you for your kind comments and yes books contain mentors. That is a good subject for a post, don't your think.

    Wishing you a great week.
    Helen xx

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  14. Hello Jane the Booklady

    Your Gramps sounded like a wonderful soul and I understand the bond that must have existed and that he also passed on his love for books to you is marvelous. It is a very special love.
    To a wonderful week
    Helen xx

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  15. Hello Mise

    Romance and adventure definitely describes life at Cluainin. We all have wonderful memories of playing by the ocean, as no doubt you can relate to. Yes, Aunt Helen was unique and I count myself very fortunate to have had her in my life for so long.
    To a great week! Yeah!
    Helen xx

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  16. Elizabeth Rose Stanton Hello and thank you for your kind words on my post. Aunt Helen always tried to do her part for her community and did small things with great passion and love. I wish you continued hope for a mentor, perhaps you are mentoring many in your work.
    Helen xx

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  17. Hello Driftwood
    I love your blog and your intersting posts.
    Yes, Aunt Helen was indeed very special and I am so lucky to have had her in my life.
    Helen xx

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  18. Magic and Drudgery

    How kind of you to visit and your kind words are always welcomed.
    Helen xx

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  19. Tish Jett - Good afternoon and thank you for your kind words and how coincidental that you knew two Helen's who were important in your life. Your mother in law sounded delightful and unlike some of the horror stories one hears of m-i-l's.
    Looking forward to reading your posts this week

    Helen xx

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  20. Hi Hesta Nesta

    Your grandfather sounded very special and wonderful you had him for the formative years. Wishing you a joyful week
    Helen xx

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  21. Hello Helen:
    We love the idea of a life lived with intelligence, humanity, creativity and to the full which, from what you write here, was very much the case with your Aunt Helen. Those people who have the gift of enriching the lives of others, in whatever way, are very special indeed and are seldom, even after death, forgotten. How lovely for you to have so many treasured memories of this person and, equally, how very generous of you to share them with us all.

    This post has, prompted by your question, caused us to reflect. So many different people, at various stages of life, touch upon, and often influence, one's thoughts, hopes, and patterns of behaviour, each one of whom confirms one's belief in the overall goodness of the individual if not, sadly, always of mankind.

    The comment which we wrote yesterday appears to have fled the page, if indeed it ever arrived. Should it manifest itself, please do with it as you wish!!

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  22. P.S. We are clearly losing our minds. The original comment is here, alive and well. Oh dear, what must you think?!!

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  23. Dearest Helen, I have returned on a different subject, as the pictures and reports here on the devastation caused by Irene is dreadful. I was wondering if you or any friends and family had been affected? I hope all is well with you.
    Abby xx

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  24. What a wonderful place to grow up and an interesting post, not sure I have a particular mentor, but lots of little things learnt from different people over a lifetime.

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  25. What a wonderful post. And beautiful pictures of you!!
    You asked about our mentors.
    My mentor was a woman, over 10 years older than me at the time.
    She was a dressage rider to her finger tips and she taught me everything I know about horses. She was there, when I got my very first own horse. Oh, I learned so much from her, true horsemanship, something which is quite lost nowadays. She had dignity, and I think some of that rubbed on me too.
    She is gone now, having died way too early.

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  26. thanks for sharing, she sounds incredible! I think mine would be my dad and my grandma, they're both so hardworking!

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  27. So special Helen, thank you for telling us about her,
    Love Helen xx

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  28. What a fantastic post in honor of your dear friend . What an awesome lady . I can understand your big lost .
    My big mentor was my grandmother , she died some years ago and I can´t understand how I can go on without her . But I do but and there is´nt one day that I don´t give her a thought.
    Thank´s alot for your nice comment on my blog !
    Love/lotta

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  29. Hello Helen, I just loved this post. Reading all about your lovely autie Helen, with her china and her roses and her orderly life. I find the thig that fascinates me most about life are people and how they live their lives. I think my mentor, was probably my mother. She was an amazing woman, with strong convictions. She had great energy and vitality and always attracted young people to her, even in old age. However she was also very critical and hard to live with. I had a couple of English teachers too, who really encouraged me. Many thanks for your comments on the funny photos, and thankyou so much for the lovely birthday wishes. I do apologise that I am only getting back to you now. I had a really lovely party. Much love to you, Linda x

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  30. Hello Jane & Lance

    I just love your description of your role model friends. I definitely aspire and hope to have some of their joie de vivre and that it get richer as the years progress. Such people are an absolute joy to be around. I also feel this very much describes both you Mr Lance and Ms Jane. Whether you were born with this joy or you developed it along the way through such friends, we do not know. I want to assure you you bring style, sophistication, humour,a writing stye that equals the masters in literature, love and a genuine caring for your followers. For this I think of you and thank you daily.

    Helenxx

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  31. Lane & Jane hello again,

    Please know you bring me tremendous joy when you visit me daily.
    Yes, on reflections we have so many people who influence our lives. When someone demonstrates a simple act of kindness even just good manners, it can move us deeply and affect our day.
    Fondly
    Helen xx

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  32. Dear Abby at My Spotty Pony

    Books are their characters can certainly be role models and can hugely influence our lives. How interesting that your father's uncle lived also on Long Island, perhaps he met Aunt Helen or danced with her sister Beatrice who was the more outgoing and music loving. That would be a lovely thought if they connected in the past.But then Ethel Merman's relative swooned him away Your memories of mail from the USA is beautiful. Have a great week Abby and hope you get to ride Spotty.
    Helen xx

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  33. Hello Julie Fedderson
    Thank you Julie for visiting and your kind words on Aunt Helen and I conversing. I am truly blessed to have had her in my life. She was my first big loss when she died. For a long time there was this monumental void. Hope your week is very special
    Helen

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  34. Hello Stine at Lilla Kullan
    What a lovely surprise to have you visit my blog. Thank you for our kind words and wishing you a week full of joy
    Helenxx

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  35. Hi Abby at My Spotty Pony

    Thank you for your concern for all on Irene's path. Florida oddly enough escaped the winds. The joke in Florida is that for the first time, the weather men said, "go to Florida to escape the storm" Florida is frequently told to evacuate!Thanks again for caring
    Helen xx

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  36. Gorgeous, gorgeous wedding photo!
    Just beautiful.

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  37. this is such a great post!! very beautiful thing to do
    i think my mentors aree my older brother who passed awayy 3 years ago when i was 14 and hee was 17

    thank youu sooo much for your sweet comment! ive been spending a lot of timee at the gym lately so thats very nice to hear :)

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  38. Some really great photos, esp the "Irish Millstone":)

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  39. Hello Helen,

    What a beautiful post about a wonderful and interesting childhood. So wonderful to have a mentor and when people actually wrote letters back and forth.

    annie

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  40. What a wonderful post Helen...I imagine your Aunt Helen was equally proud of you as well. Two accomplished women! Charming....

    Jeanne xxx

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  41. beautiful pictures! thanks for sharing your memories with us!

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  42. On the shore adjacent to that Martello tower I found a stone heart complete with a hole where the aorta would connect. I think finding that was a turning point in my life, that slowly brought about change :) I must remember to send you a photo of the heart.

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  43. Florwers at my Table. Hello Linda
    So happy you had a wonderful birthday and "life definitely begins at 50" I promise you!!!!
    I love that you had mentors in your life. You seems to have great discipline and enthusiasm
    Have a week full of joy
    Helen xxx

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  44. Hello Lindy Lou Mac in Italy
    Thanks for stopping by and how great you can attribute learning from many great people met through life
    Helen xxx

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  45. Hello Metscan

    How lovely of your to visit and share your story of the great horsewoman who shared so much with you. Sounds like a true friend and mentor. So wonderful to have met her and sorry she left too soon.

    Helenxxx

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  46. Hello Pop Champagne
    Thanks for sharing your mentors. How great you had two, your Dad and grandma. That is a true blessing
    Helenxx

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  47. Hello Helen

    What a coincidence that you bear the name of Helen too. Fondest wishes
    Helen xx

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  48. Hello Lotta

    How great you had such a wonderful grandmother and sorry for your loss.
    Wishing you continued strength and joy as you go through your days fondly remembering her love
    Helen xxx

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  49. Pamela Terry & Edward
    Thank you for your visit and kind words. I truly appreciate it.
    Helen xx

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  50. Sharon Vuitton, hello

    How sweet of you to tell about your mentor and so sorry your dear brother left way too soon at 17. I am pleased you had him for those years and may his memories sustain you as you go through you days.
    Fondly
    Helen xx

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  51. Hello Marc Noce
    I thank you for your comment and hope you visit Ireland and spot many Irish mile stones.
    My best
    Helen x

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  52. Hello Annie

    Thanks for visiting and yes the art of letterwriting is missing today - do you think we are continuing, in some way, by blogging
    Helenxx

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  53. Jeanne, hello
    Thanks for your kind comments. Aunt Helen's footsteps are large to follow but I will keep trying.
    Helen xx

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  54. Hello Irina
    Thank you kindly for your visit and words of praise on my photos.
    Hope your week is full of goodness
    Helenxx

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  55. A Heron's View

    That took an eagle's eye to find that stone.
    Thank you for sharing this news with me. What a find! I am delighted to see your blog today and will return to re-read and comment.
    Wishing you a week full of goodness
    Helen

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  56. Such a nice shear, That's the way to show respect. I love the way you designed your blog.
    gift ideas for him

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