Seventy-seven years ago today, my Granny went into labor with her thirteenth child and a day later, a baby boy was born in the bed my Grandparents shared, on the ground floor of a tenement building in Glasgow.
When my Father was a toddler, his sixteen-year-old sister succumbed to Tuberculosis. Two years later, another beloved teen daughter was lost to the same disease. I can’t imagine the intense grief my Grandparents felt, all while raising the curious wee boy with the big green eyes and dark curls that would eventually catch my Mother’s eye.
A third set of twins were born (only one survived) and the McGarr’s spent the majority of their childhood in the cramped tenement flat, surrounded by families like them, who defined the meaning of struggle in post war Glasgow.
Sadly, I don’t know the names of my five Aunts/Uncles who died during childbirth or infancy, but I got to know Betty and Dorothy from black and white pictures my Granda displayed on the old sideboard in the modern flat he moved into, long after Granny’s heart gave up, at the age of 61.
In difficult times, I’m reminded of the strength and fortitude my Father inherited from his parents and instilled in me, his only child. And for that, and a multitude of other reasons, I’m thankful to my Granny, for giving birth to the man I called Dad.