Splash Pinched nose Eyes squeezed tight Holding breath in An adrenaline rush Push up Resurface Like a dolpin Exhale and let go Of lifes little troubles Bask in the joy And splash Again and again and again….
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…….
When going for a walk is more beneficial than you may have realised…get off the couch and get out in nature
What does a walk in the park do? Clears the head, calms the soul, fragrance lifts the mood and the sight of the flora and fauna bring a sense of peace, no matter what the stresses of daily life.
I read a couple of books called ‘The Salt Path’ and ‘The Wild Silence’ by Raynor Winn a couple of years ago. Her husband had been very poorly, they had lost their house and their income. They decided to go walk the South Western Coastal Path, about 630 miles of coastline starting in Somerset and finished in Cornwall or Dorset.
They pitched a tent, where ever they could and lived on very little means. These books inspired me so much, and made me realise that really, we need very little in life to be happy and free.
A good realtionship, one, where one trusts that the other always has their back, two, that money doesn’t really matter that much, it just buys things and, three, how looks are deceptive and how we are viewed and judged by others.
During their walk, once other walkers realised they were actually ‘homeless’ and not just walking a bit of the ‘path’ for recreational reasons, they looked down upon them and viewed them as vagrants…. how rude!
What they discovered, along the way, was that her husband’s health was actually improving. His mobility and mind (you will have to read the book !) all much improved and much better. So what was it? Well, in the book (the second one) she refers to a small study that a university lecturer spoke about where ‘Secondary Metabolites’ that plants emit to protect themselves from the environment’ may be the reason why there was a CHEMICAL CHANGE in people who exercised in the natural environment. Facinating!
So we all know that going for a good walk can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, soothes our pain and restores a sense of balance and well being , but knowing that whatever it is that is emitted from the plants, may be responsible for the Chemical change, is more reason why we should get out more often, and look after our well being.
The first image is a picture of me and my shadow, Banksy style, holding on to the Red Robin to help lift my spirits as well as the sound of the actual robin as I walk by the lake, in the wonderful grounds of the Lough Rynn Estate..
We don’t have to see them, to know they are there, beside us. But when we still hear their voice, it makes the heart sing.
They say you forget, after a while, what someone looks like or sounds like, after they have passed away. Photos are always a reminder of their faces and in this day and age, we all have so many photos, thanks to our smart phones.
Voices are another matter, unless we have voice messages or video clips to physically hear them. However, today, after unpacking more of my boxes since my move I came across my old letters.
These letters are one my prized possessions. I have had them since I was 14 years old…..quite a long time ago. I knew they were packed away safely in storage but whilst they were there, my dear dear friend Jackie died. We had our last facetime in September, the night before she passed, and said our goodbyes.
Today I re-read her letters which she had written to me back in 1980. As I read them I could hear her voice, her expression, her tone, her giggle, her humour and her warmth. It was truly wonderful. In reading them she brought me back to my teens when we were full of angst, emotion, humour, confusion, sorrow and love….pretty much the same as I feel now, so nothing changes!
To Dear Jackie,
I still miss you, but thanks for it all. Keep talking to me.
Hello God, remember me I used to write you, when i was wee A little child so innocent, I write to thank you, and to vent. You were my friend when i felt afraid, You kept me going whenever i strayed I couldnt see you, but knew you were there Listening and watching and answering my prayers. So now dear God ive a favour to ask, Take special care of my dear dad, He’s left us now, gone back to you and its hard to feel happy when I feel so blue. I know i miss the sound of his voice And all the times that we’ve enjoyed Please dont let him feel afraid And tell him that the love has stayed. Thank you dear God, for always being there Even when life,, just doesn’t seem fair…..
When the downpour comes it may change how we feel….but it doesn’t have to be bad
I don’t like the rain. It makes me feel cold and miserable. I don’t want to go out when it is raining. I hear it lashing off the windows and it makes me shiver and shudder at the thoughts of having to go out in it.
I have to go out. I need to go to work, or to the shops or to do some other errand. I grab my rain coat, pull my hood up over my head and run to the car, holding onto my hood and keeping my head in the downward position.
Quickly, I hop into the car and start the engine. The windows are all steamed up and I turn on the fan and the heater to demist them and warm up the car. Wipers come on, by themselves, smart car! As the rain gets heavier, the wipers get quicker and I wish,more and more that I was back home, in the house, in the warm, cuddled up on the sofa, with the fire on, listening to the rain instead of being out in it, or driving in it.
When I am in the rain, I try everything to keep it from hitting me. I have a rain coat. I have an umbrella. I wear a hat and sometimes gloves. I wear my boots to keep my legs dry and free from the rain touching them.
Sometimes, I get caught out in the rain and am not ready or prepared for it and then, it falls, on my head, my body, my legs, my face and then I remember…..
I remember when I was young, a child, and I loved the rain, especially if it was really really lashing down hard and pounding off the ground. That would mean my friends and I could stay in and play and dress up, pretend to be like ‘grownups’ wearing our mother’s clothes and shoes, clippedy clopping around on the lino floor, face full of make up and a couple of oranges shoved up our tops to give us our ‘bossom’. It was hilarious. There was lots of laughter.
I also remember the feeling of the rain on my face, because sometimes I would run out into it, arms outstretched, mouth open and I would let it soak me to the skin and drink it in until I was completely drenched. Then, after dancing in the rain, I would go back into the house, shimmy the wet clothes off my squeaky wet skin and step into a nice warm bath and soak in the luxury of the bubbles, feeling like the Queen of Sheeba.
It’s funny how the rain can make us feel.
It’s funny how we view the rain.
It’s funny that we forget how much fun we can have if we learn to dance in the rain…..
Sometimes we have just got to trust in the signs and take them for what they are…. believe in the magic……
So many signs in our daily lives, we can either ignore them , act on them or have faith in them….
It’s a matter of choice or a matter of chance….
They say that the Robin, little red breasted bird is a symbol of good luck, happiness and rebirth. They also say it’s a sign that a loved one is near and so it can bring lots of comfort to those grieving.
The same can be said for feathers. They are a sign that the angels are near, looking out for you and that loved ones, who have passed over are near.
We get comfort from these sightings and read them how we will and they may instill a level of calm within us and though we will forever miss our loved ones, it brings pleasure to think about them being so close.
I know I feel comfort and calm seeing such things and I openly talk to my friend who passed, too young and too soon from this mortal life. I chat to her as if she is there.
Today is quite a significant day, being her 6 month anniversary. My husband and I went for a nice lovely stroll nearby where we live and walked down to the lake. Just before we got there a feather appeared, floating down from the sky and fell at my feet.
As soon as I saw it, I said to my husband,’here she is, letting me know she is here, coming on the walk with us’.
We used to have such a laugh. We had known each other since our school days and were a pair of gigglers.
As we continued on the walk we went right down to the edge of the lake and my husband decided to skim stones on it as it was so still and perfect for skimming stones. The ripple affect was just lovely.
As I was busy taking photos, and openly talking to my friend saying how beautiful it was here, down at the edge of the lake, I heard a yelp! I looked back and as if in slow motion I saw my poor husband slip on a rock and go down, into the water.
He was literally in the water for about 2 seconds, a quick dunk, as it were before getting himself out.
I just stood there in disbelief and as he quickly scrambled out of the water and walked towards me, and I knew that he was OK, I burst out laughing. It was actually hilarious. I laughed so much I almost wet myself, and as if by magic, the mood was a whole lot lighter.
My husband also laughed, pleased that no real damage was done, and as we walked (he squelshed) back towards home we both agreed that it was probably Jackie, giving him a little nudge in, as she would find it so funny and she knows how much I would laugh too.
I took it as a real sign that indeed, she was there, by my side letting me know that she was there and that she was OK.
Thank you my dear, for the sign, the company and the laugh…. He is truly fine…
When you fancy a piece of heaven, take my advice and go do the Cuilcagh Mountain walk, A.K.A the Stairway to heaven. It is spectacular….
It’s commonly referred to as the stairway to heaven and it is on the border of County Cavan and County Fermanagh. It is about an hours drive from where I live in South Leitrim, and the day we went, at the end of February was a day of four seasons… We had it all, sun, rain and snow.
We packed our back pack, had water, a snack and some waterproof trousers, ‘just in case’ it rained. As we left Mohill, the sun was shining, but alot can happen in an hour. Alot can happen in a few minutes!
After we parked the car at the entrance to the walk, we were greeted by a man collecting the parking fee either 5 pound sterling or 6 euro. The sun was shining and there were a good few cars in the car park. We had only been walking about 5 minutes when the heavens opened, so on went the waterproofs, to keep us dry.
It is quite a bit of a walk before you even get to the board walk, with lovely craggy trees and a number of sheep to keep you amused along the way. The scenery was great.
We passed a little river to the right and some frogs to the left. They were protecting and moving about their spawn.
The path was gravel and easy under foot, the incline was gradual. The space was open and dramatic and along the way, we would stop, so many times to take in the magesticness of it. Of course, it was great to catch our breath from walking, only for our breath to be taken away by the sheer beauty of the landscape rolling out before us and behind us. It really is quite awesome!
We met people as they were on their way back down, and all said the same thing ‘keep going, it is worth it’.
After about an hour of walking, I began to wonder if indeed, it was would be worth it or indeed, if we would be able to keep going.
We did keep going and over and over again, we would say WOW, look at that, pointing in each direction. No matter where you looked, it was stunning.
The board walk itself, when you finally get to it, is good and sturdy and as it rolls out in front of you, leading you the way to the actual stairs, it highlights all the beauty it is creeping through.
I am not going to lie, climbing up the actual stairs, to the top, was hard and we stopped many times to slow down the heart rate and just take in the sheer magnitude of it all.
As we were walking up the stairs we noticed the dark clouds coming, and as we got to the very top, in came the snow and hail and poured down on us like a welcomed shower as we were sweating from the steep incline. We both felt our hearts were going to burst!
It was spectacular from the top. The view needs to be seen with your own eyes to appreciate it, so my advice is go, go do the stairway to heaven, keep going, it will be worth it!