I read a beautiful story this week. OK, so maybe it’s not completely true, but a beautiful movie scene played out in my head as I read it, complete with handsome hero, beautiful maiden in (critical) distress, and a happy ending.
It went something like this:
During the Famine times in Ireland (mid and late 19th century), the nation lost about a third of its population to death or emigration.
On a small island off the west coast of Ireland, the famine’s toll of dead bodies mounted weekly. Because the island had no cemetery of its own, when another emaciated body was ready for burial, those with the strength, would row to the mainland. In their exhaustion and grief, they would lay the beloved’s body on the shore, and the good people of the nearby town would cart the body to the cemetery for a proper burial in hallowed ground.
One such day, a young man attended the gruesome chore of retrieving the corpses from the beach. He gathered up what he thought were the remains of a young woman, when to his utter surprise, she gasped in his arms. Being so weakened by the great hunger that plagued the country, she was no doubt in a deep coma like state.
Needless to say, the young man brought the weak girl back to the hovel where he lived with his mother. Though they themselves had very little, they did own a goat, and thus were able to feed the fragile girl goat’s milk. It was said in those days that if you had a goat and could catch fish, you would survive the famine.
Bit by bit, the girl recovered. But the severity of her trauma left her without speech. Nevertheless, as these stories go, the young man fell in love with the girl he had rescued, and they were married.
Years later, when the famine was just a bad memory, a man from the island where the young girl had grown up, came to the town on the mainland. In the local pub, he noticed a young man wearing a lovely Aran sweater. What caught his eye was the pattern of the knit was the one his own family had created.
This was the tradition, they say, of coastal families. The fishermen would wear a special knitted design unique to that family. Then, in the event of drowning at sea, the body could be recognised by the pattern on the sweater, and the body claimed by the family.
The older gentleman asked the younger man where the sweater was from. The young man replied that his own young wife had knitted it for him. That could only mean one thing.
The young woman who had been thought dead by her island family, was discovered that very day to be alive and well. The girl’s father was reunited with the child he had mourned, and celebrating was heard into the wee hours of the morning.
Yea, I like this story.