Romance Fiction posted May 7, 2012 Chapters:  ...20 21 -22- 23... 

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Mrs. Kennedy receives her last rites

A chapter in the book A ROUGH BEGINNING

Chapter Nine, Part Two

by c_lucas

This novel is written in the Omniscient point of view. The story takes place is New York's Irish slums. Points of history are intermingled with fiction.

            Brigit's Cross


JUNE 1875
End of the last chapter:
“Mrs. Kennedy will not be here much longer. God rest her soul.” The priest crossed himself. Mrs. Wiley, Heather and Phillip did the same. “I regret I've not be trying harder ta save her soul.” Father Murphy shook his head.

Phillip kept Heather’s hand in his and stared at her. “Isn’t there something you need to tell Father Murphy?”

Heather gulped and glanced at Mrs. Wiley.

Mrs. Sullivan walked in without knocking. She carried a ragged item, woven from reeds, in her right hand.  “That’ll be my job. Fader, you and I be needing ta prepare Mrs. Kennedy ta meet her Maker. Do not be surprised at th’ language she be using. She be ready ta accept your ways.”

Mrs. Sullivan signaled Mrs. Wiley and Heather to follow her. She held the sheet back and they entered. She looked at the Priest, “When th’ time comes, yeh’ll be having yer private moments. Do you be recognizing this?” She held the woven item up.
“It be a replica of an early Christian cross; th’ one called ‘Brigid’s Cross.’ There be replicas of it in almost every Irish home….wait a moment…I not be seeing any in this apartment, yours or Mrs. Wiley’s.
“We be all having th’ blessing and protection of this one. It be not a copy. It be one of th’ real ones woven by Saint Brigit. Sister Kennedy be th’ preserver and protector of it.”
“Sister Kennedy?”
“In her youth, Friona Kennedy be one of th’ nuns who be chosen ta guard th’ Sacred Fire of Kildare.” She looked over her left shoulder and turned her attention to the priest. “Sister Kennedy said ta invite yeh and Phillip in. Did yeh be bringing your holy water, Fader?”
The priest stood and walked toward Mrs. Sullivan. “Holy Oil, too.”
Phillip remained seated.
“Unless yeh be having yer mind made up, Doctor. Yeh need ta be with us. Sister Kennedy asked for yeh. She be yer patient.”
Phillip picked up his bag and reluctantly went behind the curtain.
Mrs. Sullivan motioned for the two men to move to the foot of the bed. She signaled Heather and Mrs. Wiley to move beside her, near the head of the bed. She placed Brigit’s Cross onto Mrs. Kennedy’s chest and reached for the hands of the two other women. A faint halo appeared over Mrs. Kennedy’s head. It was too faint for the men to see it.
Mrs. Kennedy began to speak in a low voice, almost a whisper. A light mist began seeping from her chest and through the woven cross.
Father Murphy, a surprised look on his face, shook his head. “This can’t be happening. She be speaking Latin.” He stepped closer to hear better and stopped.
 The halo hovered over Mrs. Kennedy’s head. The mist flowed over the heads of the three women.
“This be th' work of th' divil!” The priest crossed himself and reached for the holy oil.
“Anoint th’ cross with yeh Holy Oil, or Holy Water, Fader. Yeh’ll be seeing if it’s th’ work of  th’ divil," Mrs. Sullivan spoke softly.
The priest began praying in Latin as he opened his container of Holy Oil. He allowed a few drops to fall on the center of the cross. He stared as the drops were absorbed by the dried fiber. He knelt beside Mrs. Kennedy and continued to pray, never taking his eyes off the woven cross.
The mist covered Heather and disappeared. The three ladies cited the Ave Maria. When they finished, Mrs. Sullivan picked up the woven cross and handed it to her daughter.  “Guard it well.” She kissed Heather on the forehead.
Sister Kennedy waited for the priest to finish his prayer. “It be time for me ta continue me journey. Calin, continue yer studies with th’ Blessings of Saint Brigit and meself. We’ll be with yeh. I be ready soon for th' window ta be open.”
Heather stepped around the priest and bent over her mentor. “Know yer wishes shall be carried out,” she whispered, kissing Sister Kennedy’s face in the pattern of the cross. She briefly lingered with the final kiss before leaving the partitioned area.
Mrs. Sullivan motioned for Phillip to follow them out. Again, she held the curtain open while Mrs. Wiley and Phillip left, leaving Father Murphy with Mrs. Kennedy.
Mrs. Sullivan sat at the head of the table. Heather and Phillip sat across from each other, and Mrs. Wiley freshened everyone’s cup of tea before sitting at the foot of the table.
“What went on in there?” Phillip asked no one in particular.
“What be yeh seeing?” Mrs. Sullivan asked, glancing at the woven cross in Heather’s hands. St.Briget chose her ta carry on with th’ healing. She waited for Phillip’s answer.
“It was a show like the Spiritualists put on. They want people to believe they can talk with the dead. I have seen them debunked by professionals, but they persist. The mist comes out of a tubing in the floor.”
“Yeh be believing this be a trick?” She placed her hand on her daughter’s arm and then took the cross from her. “Being yeh be a man, yeh be forbidden ta touch this cross, but I will show it ta yeh. Look at it closely.”
Mrs. Sullivan used slow, exaggerated movements to show the cross to the young doctor. “Let me know if yeh be seeing anything but St. Briget’s cross woven out of reeds.”
“Do yeh trust Fader Murphy?” Mrs. Wiley asked him.
“He’s a priest. Of course, I trust him.” Phillip became agitated.
“Then we’ll be waiting for him ta finish with Sister Kennedy and you two gentlemen can search her body and th’ surrounding area for your so-called trickery.” Mrs. Sullivan handed the cross back to Heather who kissed it and pressed it to her chest.
“Do yeh be trusting me?” Heather’s question caught Phillip off guard.
“What do you mean? I plan to marry you and live together for the rest of our lives. I love you.” He stared at her.
“What yeh be seeing be th’ healing spirit of Saint Brigit leave Sister Kennedy’s body and come into mine. I’m destined ta be a healer and a mid-wife.” Heather set the cross on the table, reached for Phillip’s hands and interlocked her fingers with his. “There be no trickery in what yeh saw. I’ll not be saying anything more about it, until yeh be deciding….
“Deciding what?" Phillip interrupted her.
Heather walked around the table to him and knelt. She took his right hand, brought it to her lips and kissed its back. “I have promised ta be yer wife, ta have yer children and ta raise yer children in th’ ways of th’ Catholic Church. Now, I be removing part of my promise.” She continued to hold his hand.
“Before she left for England, Dr. Blackwell be asking me for a private meeting. She be wanting ta support my efforts ta become a Doctor of Medicine. She handed me several letters of recommendation. I thanked her and placed them in me bag. Then I told her of my promise ta yeh. That I would marry yeh and raise yeh children. She frowned when I told her yeh’ll not be wanting me ta practice my knowledge of herbs in public. She be saying ta me, ‘Medicine is so broad a field, so closely interwoven with general interests, dealing as it does with all ages, sexes and classes, and yet of so personal a character in its individual appreciations, that it must be regarded as one of those great departments of work in which th’ cooperation of men and women is needed ta fulfill all its requirements.’ " 

"It would not be fair of me to ask your response when we be in th’ company of others. I’ll be waiting until we be alone.”  She kissed the palm of his hand and stood to regain her seat at the table.

Phillip picked up his bag and walked toward the door without speaking. Heather watched him as he walked out without turning around. She turned toward her mother who placed her hand on her daughter’s wrist. “He be needing time alone. Depend on th’ strength of yer love ta be bringing him back.”

Heather stared at the table. Her mother and Mrs. Wiley left the young woman to her own thoughts.
"It’s time.” Heather stood and went to open the window. A gentle draft left Mrs. Kennedy’s room, stirring the cover curtain and the window curtains.  “May yeh be finding th’ peace yeh so richly deserve.” She crossed herself as did the two women.  Her eyes went to Phillip’s empty chair. Tears filled the eyes of the women as they bemoaned their loss.
Father Murphy stood and adjusted his clothing. “Can you be hearing me?” he asked in Latin.

“Aye. Loud and clear, Father,” Mrs. Kennedy answered in an older version of the language. Her eyes closed.

“Why didn’t yeh be telling me before that yeh be speaking Latin?” he converted back to English.

“Yeh never be asking me before,” she answered in English.

“Do yeh be believing in th’ Catholic Faith?”

“I be believing in Sister Briget and her Catholic teachings.” Her voice began to weaken.

“Don’t yeh be meaning Saint Brigid?”

“Aren’t they be one and th’ same?” she whispered.

“That’s a matter of opinion I’ll not be wanting ta get into with yeh. Do yeh be ready ta accept the Lord Jesus Christ as yeh Savior?”

“I be ready ta prepare my way into th’ next life.”

The priest checked to make sure the Crucifix, and other holy icons were within view of the old lady. He’d blessed each one using Latin instead of English. Assuring himself everything’s in order, he glanced at Mrs. Kennedy who stared at him. He could still see a faint halo above her. It must be th’ lighting. Her eyes be sparkling.

“Does this be th’ time I am to confess me sins?”


“Bless me, Fader, for I’ve sinned….”

When she finished, Father Murphy switched back to Latin and began with the “Our Father.”

Mrs. Kennedy, using her older form, prayed along with him.

Father Murphy guided Mrs. Kennedy through each of the Holy Sacraments. Soon, he got used to her responding in Latin. He noticed her voice became stronger as they proceeded, but never reached the strength of their earlier conversations in days gone by.

When they finished, Father Murphy stared at the smiling lady. The faint halo had grown slightly in its intensity. She appears ta be stronger, and she’s sincere. Her voice startled him.

“Fader, Sister Brigit sends yeh her blessings. She be wanting yeh ta go ta Ireland and ta study th’ ways of th’ early Church. There be some old books yeh’ll be finding. Be not th’ doubter. Now, it’s be time for me ta leave.” Mrs. Kennedy closed her eyes and the halo disappeared.

I don’t know what ta think. I can’t share this experience with anyone. I be feeling th’ presence of something, or someone…I’m not sure.
He looked at the movement of curtain as it was caused by a gentle breeze. Father Murphy crossed himself. “Go to the loving arms of Jesus, my beloved friend. In your life, I be seeing His Healing Ways.” He kissed his old friend on her forehead and covered her face with the sheet.


Early Chrisian Cross known as Briget Cross: Source is wikipedia.

Special thanks to Tonulak (Ted) for his help and providing answers on Catholicism.
N.K. Wagner (Nancy) for giving me insight on how the Irish spoke in the nineteenth century.

MumEsGirl (Kate) for keeping my dialect on track.

Patrick G Cox (Patrick) for his insight into the early Catholic church in Ireland.

For the Irish FanStory members too numerous to name. For their input on 19th century Ireland.

This is a rewrite. Regular readers may not get any rewards.

Caitlin Anna Wiley will change her name to Joanna 'Jo' Wiley when she is arrested for theft of a two cent apple.

Cailin = Irish for girl.
Divil = Devil
Fader = Father
Help = hep
Me = my
Mammy = mother
Mudder = mother
Ta = to
Tay = tea
Th' = the
Yer = your
Yeh = you
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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