A dif­fer­ent era

Ladies wore black to mourn their loved-ones

The Compass - - NEWS -

As youth grow­ing up in New­found­land dur­ing the 1950s, we were all so puz­zled when we saw our moth­ers, grand­moth­ers and aunts all draped in black dresses, ban­danas, coats, stock­ings, shoes and boots with fur tops.

We never re­ally got to un­der­stand all of this un­til many years af­ter. How­ever, it was all a kind of spir­i­tual ges­ture of re­spect, which was never ex­plained to us as young chil­dren, not even as teenagers. We did sense some­thing was not right, but never got to ex­press our thoughts fully as ev­ery­one ap­peared too sad. It was as if we were not sup­posed to know what was hap­pen­ing. Per­haps, it was not a time to be ask­ing cu­ri­ous ques­tions? Maybe it was bet­ter as par­ents felt there were cer­tain events hap­pen­ing that may trau­ma­tize their chil­dren and give them bad night­mares.

We were very out­go­ing as chil­dren in the 1950s, of­ten vis­it­ing our neigh­bours. We were like one real big fam­ily king­dom who cared and re­spected the well be­ing of each other. It was an era of close net­works of fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours.

A mag­netic at­trac­tion of car­ing and won­der­ing was felt as to how oth­ers were do­ing and if there was any­thing we could pos­si­bly do to help in dif­fi­cult times of death, tragedy, and even dur­ing a se­ri­ous ill­ness.

We could not un­der­stand the pain and sad­ness of a dear lady mourn­ing the loss of a loved one at sea. It could’ve been her hus­band, son, grand­child, or even an­other close fam­ily mem­ber. The echoes of cry­ing and moan­ing from an open win­dow could be heard as ev­ery­one turned in for the night. Long nights of lone­li­ness over­shad­owed what had once been a cheer­ful and happy homestead. The in­ner fears of child­hood grew as we be­gan to hold back our tears when we sensed the sad­ness. We could not help but let go of our emo­tions for some­one who was so deeply sad, feel­ing lost and alone, their loved-one abruptly taken away by the mys­te­ri­ous sea. We did not have any­one to share our own sad­ness with, as we were not sure if it was a good thing to do, to show our real feel­ings to and for oth­ers.

I re­mem­ber so well, one lady in my child­hood home­town who lived down the har­bour, in on the marsh as we called it. She was truly the first lady I ever saw wear­ing a black dress in mourn­ing of her late hus­band.

She had long white hair, and a long black dress, which was home­made as she was al­ways so very proud to say. She also made many for other women who lost their good hus­bands at sea, or had died sud­denly. She was al­ways very happy to see me when­ever I dropped by her home with her grand­chil­dren. It was as if we had been good friends for many years, and she in­di­cated of­ten that she loved to have com­pany, es­pe­cially God’s lit­tle chil­dren.

I was not cer­tain if she was re­ally a nice lady as we had our own fairy tales about ladies wear­ing black dresses. In later years, she did take the time to tell me some sad and heart-warm­ing sto­ries as to why ladies wore black dresses af­ter the death of a loved-one, more so for the hus­band. How­ever, many ladies wore their black dresses for a year while oth­ers wore them for­ever.

There were many ladies who ad­mit­ted they just could not let go of the per­son they lost who was a very im­por­tant part of their life. Why should they? It was not a cul­tural thing, but a spir­i­tual close­ness and re­spect for their loved-one.

While that kind of mourn­ing is no longer com­mon in this day and age, there are still some se­niors who carry on this spir­i­tual close­ness and sense of re­spect for a dear spouse. We still see it among Euro­pean cul­tures, who have set­tled in our coun­try, Canada.

The great At­lantic Ocean has taken away many loved-ones who never got to say good­bye. There was never a clo­sure for the fam­ily, just an imag­i­nary sense of peace within their hearts that loved-ones were not in pain no mat­ter where they were lost at sea. Per­haps, they were able to have time to ask God to pro­tect and care for their dear fam­ily mem­bers on the land be­fore they en­tered into their wa­tery grave and their souls de­parted for that greater place we call Heaven.

There was no doubt the mys­te­ri­ous, un­pre­dictable na­ture em­braced them all in the great At­lantic waves that surely had no con­science as to who they were and how many sad, loved ones there would be suf­fer­ing with so much sor­row and pain in their hearts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.