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March 17, 2017

Today I am thinking about Anna Durkin. I last saw her more than 60 years ago. She was born in Ireland — in which county I don’t remember, although I once knew — and had moved to Philadelphia. She cleaned my grandparents’ house, and once a week, on Wednesdays, she came to our house, too, to clean and cook for us. She always made chicken.

I remember her as a short woman but very strong. Her favorite expressions were “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” and “Mary Mother of God!” She said those often. She adored my brother, who she called “the wee foxy.”

Mrs. Durkin had one son. His name was Tommy. During the time she worked for my family, he died. I think he was killed. She must have wept but I never saw her cry. I just remember her lifting heavy mattresses to make the beds and vacuuming the floors. Her once red hair turned gray. Her already wrinkled face became even more wrinkled.

I don’t remember when Mrs. Durkin stopped coming to our house. I don’t know if my family helped her in her last years. I hope so. I moved away. I don’t know when I last saw Mrs. Durkin. If I could see her again now, there are many things I would say to her and many things I would ask, but I was too young and too self-involved to find out more about her and her life. I hope that she rests in peace.

 I knew her at the time of her death. She ate poorly and lived the same way. She was working for us when she died – she worked right until the end. Her son was killed in a gas station robbery in Germantown where she lived in extreme poverty. she worked for all of the family. Her legacy to me was that she always found my antics bearable and treated me with deference. Knowing what I have come to understand makes my heart weep.
I am so sad to know that she had such a hard life. And it was so terrible on top of everything else to lose her son that way. As for you, she liked you a lot. She really did. I must have been gone by the time she died because I don’t remember that at all. I wish that our family had done something for her — after all those years — something to ease her life.
it was strange – I know more about her and it was terrible her diet was awful. She literally passed out after being ill at the house. No one said anything about her after that, like a throw rug or a mat that has worn out.
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