“Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.”-loc7 Preface quoted Bunny Mcbride
“I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.
Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My mam, singing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from these phantom incarnations, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life.
I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is-a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.”-loc 52
“My parents left Ireland in hopes of a brighter future, all of us believing we were on our way to a land of plenty. As it happened, they failed in this new land, failed in just about every way possible. It may have been that they were weak people, ill suited for the rigors of emigration, its humiliations and compromises, its competing demands of self-discipline and adventurousness. But I wonder how things might have been different if my father was part of a family business that gave him structure and a steady place for a man like him-or if my mother had been surrounded by women, sisters and nieces, perhaps, who could have provided relief from destitution and loneliness, a refuge from strangers.”-loc 495
“‘Be careful, dear,’ she says, running a light finger over my stitches. ‘Take the time to make them small and even. Remember, somebody will wear this, probably over and over until it’s worn through. A lady wants to feel pretty, no matter how much money she has.'”-loc 1531
“I listen to Mr. Sorenson and nod politely as he talks, but it’s hard to concentrate. I feel myself retreating to someplace deep inside. It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.”-loc 1625
“Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear. The first twenty-three years of my life are the ones that shaped me, and the fact that I’ve lived almost seven decades since then is irrelevant. Those years have nothing to do with the questions you ask.….
What did you choose to take with you? What did you leave behind? What insights did you gain?“-loc 2514
“She has never tried to find out what happened to her family-her mother or her relatives in Ireland. But over and over, Molly begins to understand as she listens to the tapes, Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting out most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.”-loc 2522
“I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other. I like the coffee hour with almond cake and snickerdoodles in the vestry. And I like being associated with the Nielsens, who seem to be generally regarded as fine, upstanding citizens. For the first time in my life, the glow of other people’s approval extends to, and envelops, me.”-loc 2732
“Just after midnight, the street outside the hotel is lit up but empty, like a stage set before the actors appear.”-loc 3281