In the last few years I’ve been taking college classes in science and math, including classes in anatomy and physiology. Bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons and how they all move together (or don’t, in some cases) is pretty fascinating.
So I was quite surprised to come across the below poem on the bones of the human body stuffed into the drawer of an old dresser. It was penned, or so I thought, by my grandfather’s sister, Mary (‘May’) Elizabeth Boles, who died in her early 30’s of TB. She was one of six children of Edward and Sarah Boles of Clooneen, outside Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim, Ireland. What she was doing studying osteology, I don’t know. Was this something she had to learn in school? Maybe. I wondered whether this was a poem she created, but then I googled one of the lines and discovered its publication in The Medical World, pub. 1898, Vol. 16, p. 36, so that idea was squashed, unfortunately — I’d secretly been hoping this was her own handiwork.
My grandfather William Boles emigrated to the US in 1912, when May was about 16. My mother recalls hearing about how lovely and sweet May was, and how devastated the family was when she was unable to recover from the ravages of tuberculosis. She worked in her uncle’s department store in Boyle for many years; She passed away at the family home in Cloneen.
More on the Boles family in future posts. Meanwhile, here’s to remembering May, a great-aunt I never had the pleasure to meet, regrettably. Such a great shame, but happy to know she brought so much light to others.