Adopting a granny  


                    for God never makes a mistake.      

I pushed Sweet Alice and her numerous bags and baskets on to a very crouded bus in Birkirkara en route to my home in St. Paul's Bay.

  It was Wednesday again on a radiant morning in March and the old, snorting bus -with constant polyglot babble,  and driver Salvo, testy, tried, bejewelled - was jam-packed to capacity with garrulous Maltese housewives and pale-faced foreign tourists . Fortunately, someone got off and left a seat for Sweet Alice who, despite her 82 winters ,was full of the joys of spring and ready to chat up anybody in three languages.  An orphan, she had been in the Good Shepherd Convent in Balzan since she was two years old, being the only child of an English father and Maltese mother.

  Never having had relatives, we had the honour of adopting her as a granny.  Wednesday was "her day" at our house and was, she assured us, awaited with great anticipation.  I had never seen her without a smiling face.

  As our Irish poet W.B.Yeats so aptly put it: "For the good are always the merry, save by an evil chance".

  Seated on the bus  -  beneath a garish picture of Pope John Paul II and its non-discriminately pasted-on annotation "Lucky Lips"overhead, surrounded by silver stars  - with his back to the driver, sat a genial Dutch tourist.  Catching my eye he offered me his seat.  I discovered his name was Hans.  He was accompanied by 11 other Dutch evangelists who had just been singing for patients in St Luke's Hospital . Being deaf, Sweet Alice was apt to shout when addressing people so the whole bus was attentive to the life and times of the brown-eyed Hans.  "Are you married," she ventured "and have you any children ?" 

  "I have three in Holland and two in Heaven" he told her

" five in all."

  Two were born deformed and died shortly after birth he told us.

 "How very sad," said Sweet Alice.

  "No no," he assured her, "for God never makes a mistake."  These were the words of his dear wife and he became a convert to Christianity because of her incredible gift of faith and hence his sojourn in Malta telling stories.

  The years rolled by and, reaching the venerable age of 93, Sweet Alice left us for greener pastures in 1990.  Our brown-eyed Hans, who had since then been a frequent visitor to the Good Shepherd Convent, with gifts galore for Sweet Alice, also left us.

  On a cold winter's day in his homeland ,while playing football, he dropped dead at the goalpost.  He was just 40 years old.  

  My story entitled " Sweet Alice And The Singing Dutchmen" was read, as gently, he was  laid to rest. 

 Both lives were success stories.

  Ar deis De go raib - da n-anamnacha dilis.  ( On the right side of God may their loyal souls rest !)

Anita Kilbride-Jones,

St. Paul's Bay,Malta.

   Sweet Alice

Celebrating her birthday      with Anita & Tara 1987.

"Be kind to the lonely people of the earth,

They may be difficult, but we are not all fashioned alike.

Some bend to circumstance,

Others twist and break". 


There is so much good in the worst of us / and so much bad in the best of us / that it ill behoves any of us / to rail at the faults of the rest of us. 

Edward Wallis Hoch.


I wandered lonely as a cloud / that floats on high o'er vales and hills / when all at once I saw a crowd / a host of golden daffodils / beside the lake beneath the trees / fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine / and twinkle on the milky way / they stretched in never-ending line / along the margin of a bay / ten thousand saw I at a glance / tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced but they / out-did the sparkling waves in glee / a poet could not but be gay / in such a jocund company / I gazed - and gazed - but little thought / what wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft when on my couch I lie / in vacant or in pensive mood / they flash upon that inward eye / which is the bliss of solitude / and then my heart with pleasure fills / and dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth.(I77O-I85O).

Oh don't you remember sweet Alice Ben Bolt /

Sweet Alice whose hair was so brown /

Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile / And trembled with fear at your frown /In the old churchyard in the valley Ben Bolt / In a corner obscure and alone / They have fitted a slab of granite so gray / and Sweet Alice lies under the stone.  Under the hickory tree, Ben Bolt / Which stood at the end of the hill / Together we've lain in the noonday shade / and listened to Appleton's mill. The mill wheel has fallen to pieces Ben Bolt/ the rafters have tumbled in / and a quiet that crawls 'round the wall as you gaze / has followed the olden din / and don't you remember the school Ben Bolt / with the master so cruel and grim / and the shaded nook by the running brook / where the children went to swim / grass grows on the master's grave Ben Bolt / the spring of the brook is dry / and of all the boys who were school mates then / there are only you and I.

Dr. Thomas Dunn and Nelson Kneass.   ( I848 ) 


Wherever you are be noble.

Whatever you do, do well.

Whenever you speak, speak kindly.

Give joy wherever you dwell.

Some saint has said we speak out of two hearts - the big generous heart and the small mean one.

 Lord! Let me speak out of the big generous heart to-day!








           Sweet Alice

  An  old woman of the roads by Padraic Colum.

Oh! to have a little house!

To own the hearth, and stool and all,

The heaped up sods upon the fire, the pile of turf against the wall.

To have a clock with weights and chains and pendolum

Swinging up and down,

A dresser filled with shining delph, 

Speckled and white and blue and brown.

I could be busy all the day cleaning and sweeping hearth and floor,

And fixing on their shelf again, my white and blue and speckled store.

I could be quiet there at night,

Beside the fire and by myself,

Sure of a bed and loth to leave the ticking clock and the shining delph.

Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark and roads where there's never a house nor bush,

And tired I am of bog and road and the crying wind and the lonesome hush.

But I am praying to God on high,

And I am praying Him night and day

For a little house  - a house of my own,

Out of the wind's and the rain's way.

Padraic Colum.

(I88I - I972).

'The kiss of the sun for pardon,

the song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer god's heart in a garden,

than anywhere else on earth'.

Dorothy Frances Gurney.(I858 - I932).  

 Love, Pray, Go!

Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. 

We see things not as they are, but as we are.  

Whenever I hear the words:' Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God'. immediately I think of Sweet Alice. Why?  Because people who have pure hearts are quick and eager to spell out one's gifts, abilities, virtues and talents.   They are always ready to stand back like St. John the Baptist and  eager to put the other person before themselves.   They are incapable of entertaining the vices of jealousy or envy. They are the builders and encouragers  and stepping-stones of the world because of their pure hearts.  They leave a trail of blessings behind them wherever they go.  Such was Sweet Alice. On leaving her you would be comforted by the happy thought that 'you were not the worst'. I am twice blessed to have known her.  She was indeed a rara avis.

Purity is best demonstrated by generosity.  Lk.11=4

An Irish Blessing.

God be good to you in all your days / God be kind to you in all your ways / God give strength to you when crosses lean / God send light to you , the clouds between / God give peace to you in times of strife / God bless everything that fills your life / God send joy when grief is truly o'er / God make way for you at heavens door.   


Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord ?

And who shall stand in His holy place ?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

Who does not lift his soul to what is false,

And does not swear deceitfully. ( Psalm 24: 3 - 4 ).

God's Garden.

The Lord God planted a garden in the first white days of the world/ and He set there an angel warden in a garment of white enfurled/so near to the place of heaven the lark might nest with the wren/for there in the cool of the evening God walked with the first of men/and I dream that this garden closes with its glades and its sun-flecked sod/and its lilies and bowers of roses/ were laid by the hand of God/the kiss of the sun for pardon/ the song of the birds for mirth/ one is nearer God's heart in a garden/ than anywhere else on earth/ the dawn of the morn for glory/ the hush of the night for peace/ in the garden at eve says the story/ God walks and His smile brings release. 

Dorothy  Frances Gurney.














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