Reminders….

We get through time, somehow, after loss. This too shall pass, they say, and the intensity and immediacy of it does fade, but the feeling of loss and grief stays and reminders are what keeps us going through each new day that we have without them in this world….. blessed to have known you….. for Jackie

“like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow”

Robert Louis Stevenson
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At some stage in our lives we all have to experience loss. Loss of a relationship, loss of money, material things, loss of a loved one. Many many years ago when I was courting, my now husband, I broke off our relationship. He was very upset and so was I at the time, but I just felt that the time wasn’t right. Someone said to him ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. He told me this when we got back together.

Throughout our lives we have many different types of relationships with family, friends, partners, teachers, work colleagues etc, each with varying depths and ties of commitment, love and connection. Sometimes it is easy to break the ties and other times it is very difficult, impossible even. Some ties will never be broken, whether the person is here or not. So we must count ourselves very lucky when we are able to say ‘Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all’. Loving some one and feeling love is just the most precious gift and one to treasure forever and be thankful for.

Having lost my dear friend one year ago today, I am thankful for the years we had together as friends, like sisters, thankful for the experiences we shared and the memories that linger on, to keep her alive. This post, is for her…….

Jackie………

The many times I reach for the phone, then realise

No, no now

As I take the milk carton from the fridge and in bold writing the ‘use by’ date

Is that specific date

A wasp as it weaves its way in my direction, like it’s on a mission

Reminds of you running and screaming down the isle of the bus to avoid it’s sting

When the person next to me orders a J D and Coke at the bar

When I see a Sainsbury’s bag, ad, Next, River Island or Karen Millen Label

All signs

A packet of Benson and Hedges, Marlboro Menthol, Vapes

Reminds me of players No.6 and us getting suspended from school for smoking on the bus

And having cigarettes on our person

Oh how we howled with laughter

Vaseline cream and cotton wool to take off your make up and moisturise

how you swore by it

Progressing to Lancôme, Miss Dior and any brand of lipstick, so long as the colour was right

Sunbeds, sun bathing and prickly heat

Strong tea, strong coffee and bacon ribs

Dundalk, Coventry, Nuneaton and South Carolina

Place names remain, all reminders of you

Every time I walk through my front door and your photo is there to greet me

Every pic or meme I post on Facebook, the absence of your like, emoji or comment

Reminds me of that empty space

Laughing, crying, celebrations and times of sadness

My mind transports to you

Every time I see two old ladies, talking, laughing, sitting together

My future longs for you

In the noise and the silence, every morning and the last thing at night

All reminders of you

The staghorn tree in rich rust red, standing prominent and tall

Planted in memory of you

Laughing eyes and a bright white smile

A plethora of ordinary things will continue to, thankfully,

remind me of you.

24/03/1965 – 23/09/2021

For my best friend, my sister from another mister, my heart and my thanks

Mutability [“The flower that smiles to-day”]

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

The flower that smiles to-day

          To-morrow dies;

All that we wish to stay

          Tempts and then flies.

What is this world’s delight?

Lightning that mocks the night,

          Brief even as bright.

   Virtue, how frail it is!

          Friendship how rare!

Love, how it sells poor bliss

          For proud despair!

But we, though soon they fall,

Survive their joy, and all

          Which ours we call.

   Whilst skies are blue and bright,

          Whilst flowers are gay,

Whilst eyes that change ere night

          Make glad the day;

Whilst yet the calm hours creep,

Dream thou—and from thy sleep

          Then wake to weep.

Safe place….

A child has no say in the family it is born to and when that family break downs, it has no say it the family it is placed with, when he/she goes into care. Imagine how terribly sad and frightening that must be for them. Fostering a child is both rewarding and challenging, but so badly needed. Foster carers are in short supply so if ever you were toying with the idea, go for it. Give a child a chance………

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Imagine leaving home and all you know which is familiar to you and not know where you are going or when you are going back. Imagine being told you have to stay there now. Imagine being 7 years old.

Imagine your child, your niece, cousin, grand daughter, friend…. imagine if it were them that had to leave. Isn’t that just the saddest thing to imagine. In that situation you would at least hope, that they would be happy, safe, cared for and loved…..

As a foster carer, I have looked after 13 children for various duration and various reasons and I would hope that they all feel that they were safe, cared for and loved. As a foster carer I know I put my and heart and soul into them, to take care of them and keep them safe.

This is a poem I wrote about the journey, a sample if you like, of what it must be like for the child……

Placticine…

A door stands between them, white pvc

Nothing extraordinary, just a typical front door

She is small.  Blonde hair and big blue eyes

barely seen as her fringe lays a screen over them

Her shoulders raised, tort and tense, almost

Touching her ears

Nerves and fear swimming around every cell

In her little body

Politely she whispers ‘hello’

As she crosses the threshold  

The door closes behind her

It takes a village they say, to raise a child

Soon they would find out

Small steps and quiet voices, calm

Kind, encouraging, acknowledging,

Knowing and Pausing

Curiosity unites them both

Of what the other is like

What the other likes and doesn’t like

Inquisitively, she wanders from room to room

Gently she touches the surfaces of inanimate objects

Observing her demeanour there is something

Soothing about her, but also something

Akin to sadness

And as it seeps from her it connects the two

Together, and so the bond is formed

A sense of permitting the arm of trust to reach out

And be held

Gradually the shield around her

That guards her

drops down

And so too do her shoulders

One day, many years from this one

She is able to shout and protest and make

Noise and scream and punch and stomp

And laugh and cry

Knowing it is safe to do so

She is safe in this place

That this place is her home

Like plasticine, they have moulded to the ways

Of the other

They have integrated, assimilated and absorbed

The others’ disposition

They understand and know

That when the day comes for her to leave

They will still love

They will still care

They will still be open

and the door will revolve

For the bond is resolute

Unexpectations

The thing to do is to ‘not expect’, for it is really a folly and foolish to believe that just because we expect it, that it will be…..

Unexpectatations meaning ‘Absence of expectation; want of foresight

“Expectation is the root of all heartache”

William Shakespeare

This time last year we were getting ready to close the sale on our new house.  In just a few days’ time the deal would complete and we could collect our keys and finally be ‘home owners’ again.

Actually it was quite nice for the short time that we weren’t home owners.  It was great having so much money in the bank from the sale of our house in the July, just sitting there waiting, making the bank balance look lovely and healthy.  For a while, we could feel rich, well, money rich.

We were getting a little nervous because the other half was scheduled for major heart surgery a couple of weeks later.  We planned to go away for the week-end.  A nice relaxing spa break in a hotel set on the shores of Co. Sligo. 

It had been a rollercoaster of a year, him getting sick unexpectedly, provoking the decision to sell up, moving away from our family and friends and heading to the North East, but we took it in our stride.  The spa break was just what the doctor ordered.  Good quality time together, relaxing, being pampered before he had to face into the enormity of his operation.

We went up on the Saturday and were booked in for two nights then off to the Agents in Leitrim to pick up the keys to our new house on the Monday.  We were both so excited.

The excitement was short lived and soon replaced with utter shock and fear.  One of my dearest and longest friends, who was like a sister to me, received a devastating terminal diagnosis that her cancer had returned.

The next days occurred in a blur and was further hampered by the fact that she lived so far away in the USA and I could not get over to see her because of Covid and because in a just over a week’s time, my other half needed to go ‘under the knife’.

I would go see her, just as soon as I knew he was over his operation….

We picked up the keys as arranged on the Monday, but there was no excitement, no sense of joy for me as I turned the key in the door, knowing, my dear friend, would probably never get to visit this new home after all.  She had been planning to come the following month, but that prospect was looking very grim.

A new sensation also fell over me – what if he doesn’t make it.  What if the operation is not a success?  What if he is one of the percentage that dies during the procedure.

Very quickly you realise, that no matter what money is or isn’t in the bank, making you look or feel rich, it is of no real consequence at all.  The richness in our lives are the people in it, those that we love and cherish.

Ten days later, my husband had made it successfully through his operation and was in intensive care on his road to recovery. 

I came back from the hospital to the hotel I was staying in as his operation was in a county, three hours from where we were living.  I was feeling relieved and happy that he had gotten through it and happy to know that he should make a good recovery.

That same evening I had my final face time with my dying friend. Somehow, she knew she would go that night and arranged with her family to have me there too, one last time, to say our goodbyes. 

There would be no flights to America to see her, to comfort her or give her a hug.  There was only a screen between us but thousands of miles apart.  This was social media at its finest.  It allowed me to be with her, when I physically could not be with her, and I am so grateful for that.  So grateful that I could tell her I loved her, thank her for her friendship and wish her a safe and calm passage and that I would miss her.

I cherish that face time and I play it over and over again in my mind, every day since the day she died.  I still mourn her, cry for her, grieve her.  I talk to her every day.  I talk about her, every day.  I laugh about some of the things we did or said or got up to and I cherish her and the memories of her.

Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II died.  What a very sad day and also a shock, as we had watched only two days prior, to her greeting the new Prime Minister.  Isn’t it funny, how we just take things for granted?  Sure, we knew one day the Queen would die, but certainly not now, this week, this month or even what’s left of this year.

I certainly hadn’t expected Jackie to die either quite the contrary.

Now, as we edge nearer to her one-year anniversary I can’t help but feel a renewed sadness, not for me, but for the Royal family.  I can grieve and mourn in private.  Even earlier this year when my dad died, unexpectedly, whilst my daughter and family were visiting with me, I could carry on for them, but step out of the room when I needed to cry.

When I think of Charles now and the rest of the Royal family, who so publicly must carry on with their duty and service, I think how sad it is that they cannot simply step out of the room to have a cry, or curl up in bed for a day, or two or a week, to mourn the loss of their mother, grandmother, great grandmother.  They have to plough on. 

Though death will come to us all and we must all experience loss, those public figures that often get slated, one way or another for whatever reasons, are still human beings with feelings.  I feel so sad for them that they must put on a brave face, and carry on regardless, much as the Queen did when she lost her husband last year.  I have nothing but respect for their loss and their hidden suppressed grief, in the name of duty and service, and hope that the people and the world will be kind to them….

The light

Sometimes, It is difficult being the one ‘in charge’ whatever you may be ‘in charge’ of. It will court controversy, create divisions and even dissent in the camp, but one thing is for sure, some will agree with it and some won’t. Some will agree with some of it, and some won’t agree with any of it…..That is the grey area…..

Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

Life is simple, it’s just not easy – that is how this blog got its name. On the face of it, things should be simple. Basic human needs, our right to have our basic needs met, but, it’s not that easy. Why? Because we want more than just basic human rights, and is the driving force, for good and for bad.

They say money is the route of all evil, but so too, can be power. The powerful can do good and do bad at the same time. To have ‘power over’ is to control, to manage, to take care, to take advantage.

It’s a matter of perspective. Its a matter of which side of the fence you are on. It’s a matter of giving and taking. It’s a matter of enabling or disabling. It’s a coin of two sides. Some are winners, some are losers.

Its a matter of East versus West, North versus South. Tradition and Culture, giving and taking. There are obstacles and solutions to everything, but everything can not be managed in the same way, at the same time. Everything is not fair or equal and I doubt it ever will be.

Today we can be on this side of the fence, experiencing and be influenced by whatever it is we are experiencing and being influenced by. Tomorrow, the opposite could be true. The tables can turn, the balance can be tipped, but we each have our own part to play in all of it. No matter how big or small, we, humankind, mankind, have a part to play.

There is justice in the world and there is unfairness and injustice. People change, laws change, policies change, the climate changes. There are those far left, those right wing and those in the middle.

The poor, the rich the hungry and the dying. We are all victims of our own circumstance, of where we were born, to whom we were born, what traditions we follow, what side of the world, what culture then ultimately, what choices we make for ourselves.

Whatever our opinions, which of course we can have and have a right to, we cannot and will not, please all of the people all of the time…….

It is all an impossible contradiction….

Contradiction …..

I am strong

I am weak

Standing tall

On my knees

I am hungry

I am stuffed

I am nothing

I am enough

I am energised

I am weary

I am fun

I am dreary

I am laughing

I am crying

I am living

I am dying

I am bent

I am straight

I am early

I am late

I am happy

I am sad

I am good

I am bad

I am hot

I am cold

I am quiet

I am bold

I am a coward

I am brave

I am free

I am a slave

I am right

I am wrong

I fit in

I don’t belong

I am woman

I am man

I am saved

I am dammed

I am peace

I am war

I am rich

I am poor

I am fat

I am thin

I am pure

I am sin

I am tall

I am small

I know nothing

I know it all

I am bright

I am dull

I am empty

I am full

I am difficult

I am easy

I am contrary

I am pleasing

I am here

I am there

I love too much

I don’t care

I am black

I am white

I am blind

I see the light

Empty Nest….

authors own… nothing to see here!

I couldn’t wait for it. I was ready for it… empty nest that is. After 32 years of being the parent to all the children, I was ready to be just me and just us (me and him). During the 32 years of still being hands on parenting, we also became grandparents to 4 little lovelies….our wonderful grandchildren, so it was pretty much a revolving door kind of house that we lived in.

When we moved away, 8 months ago now, to this new area, 3 hours away from our now grown up children and the semi departed child (living away and in college), it was an exciting new adventure for us.

At first it was busy, busy busy. The other half was recovering from open heart surgery, I was dealing with a significant bereavement and trying to organise our new house and get our furniture etc transported up after the decorating was done.

We enjoyed the ‘newness’ of the new house, the new surroundings, the peace and quiet and discovering new people and places.

Somewhere along the way though came some pretty big lows amongst the highs. Was the holiday period over? What happened to make the cracks appear?

I could sense something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. I decided to get a new job, part time. That gave me a new focus. A new way to meet people and a new purpose in my week to ‘fill the gap’. It soon became my little bit of sunshine.

What empty nest showed me, or magnified to me, was that all that noise and doing, and to-ing and fro-ing and sorting was part of who I am as a person and suddenly, what was left was a gaping hole.

We suddenly became him and me and as much as we each had our own hobbies and were happy for the other to participate in said hobbies, I noticed a distinct lack of conversation. I mean real chatty conversation. Sure there was chatter, at certain times of the day, but not much.

I was quietly dealing with my grief, when slap bang in the middle of that I unexpectedly lost my father too. It was like another belt in the stomach. I could feel myself retreat.

When you are married there are things you love about each other and there are things you do not like about each other. During my low times I really didn’t like those things that I didn’t like in the first place, even more. I had no tolerance, no motivation, no space to deal with the things I did not like.

Sometimes it is easier to withdraw, make yourself absent and not engage in conversation at all, especially when you feel weary.

I would be and am thankful for lots of things in my life, but sometimes the effort required to carry on, along a road that is very bumpy, is very difficult. But that is exactly what is required…..Effort, Determination, Motivation.

Everyone needs a little bit of sunshine to cheer them up and help them through the tough days. Life seems easier when the sun is shining.

I have experienced a year that involved two significant deaths, a house move, a serious life threatening operation of my other half and empty nest. Was I foolish to think that I could sail through it all, without there being some lows? I think I was.

I am a strong person, but there were times over this last couple of months that I wanted to throw the towel in and start again, on my own. Be on my own, Completely. Not because I don’t love my other half, but because I just needed time to find myself again, as me, a person.

So, I took a holiday without him. I also took a holiday away with him and was able and determined to tell him how I was feeling about everything. Told him how the things I don’t like about him, impacted me, how that just because I am not wailing and crying everyday, doesn’t mean I am not grieving. I just grieve in my own quiet way. I was able to have a conversation with him about the conversations we should be having.

I was able to say that I was afraid that the empty nest exposed what was left and wasn’t sure if we were enough, if we didn’t put the effort in to each other, to reconnect with each other, appreciate each other, understand each other, because along the way of being parents, the children and child rearing dilute the family dynamic.

I have no desire to want a house full of children, but when they come to visit and stay a few days, I love it. We love it. We get to spend good quality time with them, treat them and the grand children and enjoy our time together, but what is also very important, is to spend good quality time with each other, not take the other for granted and understand how we impact on each other with what we do or don’t say and with what we do or don’t do.

Sometimes it is like climbing a mountain and you think you will never get to the top and other times, it is like sailing on the breeze without a ripple. I guess that is the balance.

Habits are easily made and hard to break. It is easy to become complacent and take things and people for granted, but sometimes, you just have to rock that boat, break the bad habits, and look out to a new horizon with fresh eyes and motivation.

Happy empty nest everyone……… Do not expect plain sailing and learn to ride the storm…..

Mullaghgarve Mass Rock, Co. Leitrim
Family…..

“your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well”

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Photo Dump

The importance of being present, but also when looking back can be a good thing ……

authors own…. two admirals on the buddleja… it’s a sign!

Don’t you just love holidays, and that holiday feeling. Whether you are going away or staying home and having time and permission to ‘opt out’ of the usual routine.

About 10 years ago we went away for 5 weeks to Spain. Myself and the two younger ones were there for the entire 5 weeks. My other half and the two older ones (17 at the time) came for the last two weeks. My mum and my niece, also came for the first couple of weeks.

The sun was hot, the pool and beach was fun and the evening entertainment was always something to look forward to. Karaoke on tap, and one of the young ones, loved to sing!

I always take lots of photos on holiday, whether home or abroad, in fact, I always take lots of photographs, full stop. I take photos of anything and everything in nature and of my family and friends.

I love looking at my photos as they are a reminder of a specific time and place with specific people. During the 5 week holiday I had taken probably a thousand pictures on the camera. The two eldest girls were getting their exam results whilst on this holiday, so we found an internet cafe to access the school portal to get the results. As a result of my putting the camera on the table beside the computer, and in the excitement of getting their ‘results’, someone stole my camera. When I turned to pick it up, it had gone.

I placed a sign in the internet cafe for them to even just give me back the memory card, to anonymously post it through the internet cafe letterbox and they could keep the camera. I was so upset at having lost the pictures, the memories of that holiday with my family. I offered a reward, but no one ever returned the memory card and so, I have no pictures to look back on, of that holiday.

Since then I now take most of my photos with the camera on my phone and so I make sure to photo dump all my pictures onto my facebook account, that way, I can be sure that if ever I loose my phone, at least my pictures will always be there, somewhere in facebook land and I can access them at any time from anywhere.

The other good thing, that I love about that, is I get a yearly reminder of what happened on that particular day the previous year (s) and it fills me with joy as it takes me back to that time and place.

Over the years we lose people, for one reason or another, friends, family, work colleagues etc. It is nice, to look back and remember them and the time the photo was taken and re live the moment, or talk about it, laugh about or even cry about it.

I am surrounded by physical photos of the people I love most in the world, my family and friends, in my home. This past year my best friend and my dad died, but I love looking at their photos I have framed and displayed. They are happy smiling photos of a time I was with them and I am either in the photo or have taken the photo and they are smiling at me as I take it. Every day, my heart lifts at seeing their smiling faces, even though I know, there will be no more memories to be made with them. It makes the memories I did have, even more special.

So I will keep taking photos, of everyday things, and every day places or holiday photos, with family, friends and nature, and I will continue to photo dump them so that I can keep going back to that time and place that made me smile, or made me feel joy and laughter and when I am old and forgetful (if I am lucky enough to get old and forgetful) I can look back at them, and they will be my reminder of a life lived and what I deemed was ‘the best things in life’ (which are usually free), like the love of family and friends, shared experiences and of course, nature, which gives and keeps on giving in abundance

Westlife Concert Cork 12.08.2022 with my big girls….

I read, he fishes….

Light and shade….

The Foreigners….

Do you ever notice how we behave in any given situation. How treat, react and respond to people and things. How, at times, we have a sense of entitlement and ownership and will do whatever is necessary to get what we want, no matter how big or small, or who we may trample on. Even the silly things, can turn us into competitive monsters!

authors own…

The shuffling, the whispers, eyes flitting, one way then the other. Hushed voices. Observing each other with the suspicion of a Russian spy, and with such curiosity that it could well lead to what happened to the cat!

Contemplation of their own moves, their own tactics. I can hear the cogs turning in their minds, even my own, guessing which one will succeed. Some look up, heavenward, some look away, trying to be nonchalant, undeterred, unaffected.

They pretend they are not playing the game, but i’ve been watching them closely. It’s easy when you’re on the other side of the fence.

Human behaviour…. Sure don’t we think we are civilised, superior, dignified and righteous? At times we are. Just see how we meet and greet our neighbour, the local shop keeper, the milkman, the priest. Look at the great deeds some do for others. So caring, so selfless, so civilised.

But, put us amongst the different nations, put us in a different country, a hot country. A hot country with a pool! Well, civilisation is at it’s finest….There, early in the morning the queue forms. People waiting anxiously for the man with the key. They are beginning to twitch and sweat under the heat of the sun and the weight of their towels, their many, many, many towels, which they are going to relieve themselves of when they lay claim to THEIR sun loungers, poolside, shade side, sunny side.

Just where the hell is the man with the key to the door, the door to paradise, the key to the sacred sun lounger area beside the pool?

Ahhhh, here he comes, eyeing the growing crowd, he slows his step and looks at them with confusion, fear, horror! They inch even closer to the gate, muttering and mumbling, elbows at the ready to nudge their neighbour out of the way, trample on them if they must, in the stampede that is about to erupt…

But, key man, the keeper of their focus and desire stands there bemused, confused, belwidered, not knowing what to do next. The energy is electric, the tension is palpable but like any brave solder, he ploughs through the malevolent crowd, makes his way to the front, unscathed and watches, in jubilent amazement and wonder at the idiotic, half-witted behaviour of the foreigners……

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

The Long Sleep

Sad times can evoke and trigger such good times through memories. I count myself lucky that I have so many happy memories of a life lived and shared with loved ones…..

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

It was strange passing by the doorway

Knowing you no longer occupied the room

The first time I went in, after you died

I cried

I looked around at the remnants of you

The hospital bag, clean pyjamas, slippers and

Unwrapped sweets

Wurthers originals, your favourite,

The same initials as your name W. O

William O’Reilly

all I could do was stare at it all

The picture on the bedside cabinet of padre pio

Your ‘pal’, sure didn’t he always look after you

Your holy medals, always kept in your breast pocket

Next to your heart, to keep you safe

and your easy start, the ‘inhaler’ has given you  

your Last breath, its last puff

and now all this stuff in this 10 ft. sq. room

will no longer will be touched by you

But you cannot be wiped clean from them

You are engrained and sustained in it all

and the holy Medals, in the palm of my hand

will still withstand life and death and I will never forget

your laugh, your smile, your funny ways, you.

They come with me on my journey

And I keep them safe and they keep me safe

Knowing you are at the heart of them

The smell of cigarettes filled the air and the stub in box

Of your cardigan pocket, a lasting legacy of your last

Kiss, where your lips wrapped around its filter

And you drew in the nectar of your addiction

No contrition or remorse or feeling bad

They were your comfort, your solace, and I get that

I loved them too, before I finally gave them up.

Now, more than two months on since you passed

as I stand in your room

No sign of you, no sight nor smell,

the paint and paste swallowed it up

but my mind can recall it all

the ghosts of this room

once my own, spent teenage years in a new life,

a new house, a new bedroom, and yours

was down the hall then

almost 40 years have passed since

I last slept in there

I remember it so well

Me and Jackie, giggling and talking

All night, until morning broke

when sleep finally muffled our chatter

and found us

So much joy and laughter contained

Within the walls

Yet so much sorrow, but

Now, as I slip in between the sheets

And darkness falls on the room

I remember the ghosts of both you and her

I drift and dream of great times

Good and happy memories

and as the long sleep takes me

on a sea of peace and calm

happily, I sail away with the

ghosts in my heart

Father’s Day

There’s a first time for everything. Sometimes its very difficult, other times, not so bad. It is inevitable that special occasions, also have a 1st time, with or without….

Soon it will be father’s day and it keeps popping into my mind.  It is only 6 days away now and usually by now I would be looking in the shops, looking at the cards, carefully choosing which one to buy.

I don’t like one that is too sloppy, or ones with a picture of golf clubs or racing cars on them.  My dad was never into golf or racing cars.

Choosing a card is often very difficult when you are choosing it for someone you love, because you ‘know’ them.  Their likes, their dislikes, their little idiosyncratic ways, so getting the right card, must reflect that, right?

Sometimes the right picture has the wrong verse and sometimes the right verse has the wrong picture, but still, I keep looking, if not in that shop then another and another until, I get the one that is ‘just right’.  Like goldilocks with the porridge and the bed.  It has to feel right.

The gift, was always easy….. Smokes, fags, ciggies, cigarettes; and money inside the card to buy more cigarettes, or scratch cards, where the excitement would be mighty if he only won 2 euro to get yet another scratch card and say ‘ah I might win the big one on that one’ and he would laugh.  

The kids would usually give him scratch cards, but I would give him the ‘few bob’ to go buy more ciggies.  Sure he’d been smoking most of his life, since he was 5 he said.  Picking up his parent’s butts off the hearth and drawing in the toxic smoke, deep into his lungs till he coughed and spluttered and coughed some more.  It wasn’t a deterrent, he kept going, till he got himself rightly hooked.

At 29 he collapsed with pneumonia and was taken to hospital.  I was about 7 years old then.  Gosh, that is 50 years ago!  ‘’If you don’t quit smoking, you won’t see 40” the doctor had told him, but what did he know?

Ah, he tried quitting a few times, that I remember.  He tried the pipe.  The smell was nice, I remember that, it was a bit like smelling food cooking on a bar b q, you want to eat it and the smell of the pipe, would make me want to ‘taste’ it.   I thought he looked funny, like Sherlock Holmes, puffing away on it.  It didn’t last, gave him headaches he said.  Back to the cigarettes it was then.

The doctor was wrong.  He did see 40, and 50 and 60, 70, 80…… but at 81, I guess it was his time to go.  He died 9 weeks ago, unexpectedly.  He had got pneumonia again, like he did last year also and the year before.   This time though, it was his heart that gave up on him while he was in hospital.  We were expecting him to come home again, after being pumped with antibiotics and steroids for the pneumonia and make another full recovery, but it wasn’t to be.  For him I am glad it was quick.  He always said he’d like a nice quick ‘belt in the chest’ when it was his time, and so his wish was granted.

As I type this, a photograph of him, smiling at me, I will wish him peace and blessings and tell him, that I miss him, and that I am glad the doctor got it wrong when he was 29. 

So this year, there will be no browsing or buying a father’s day card.  No cigarettes or money to be given.  No scratch cards to excitedly scratch in anticipation of ‘the big one’.   So instead of cigarettes, I’ll light a candle for him and watch the smoke as it flickers up to the heavens…….