I find it very difficult to get my head around the extent to which life has changed since I was a child.
This whole issue came into focus over the last few weeks when all the talk here in Ireland was about the fundamental need to get childcare services and schools open so that the economy could open up again.
It brought me back to my school days and the memory I have of one day, yes just one day, that I had to stay in school for lunch because Mother wasn’t going to be at home.
Imagine, she was there every day with lunch ready and full of interest in hearing about all the news from the mornings’ happenings at school.
She was of a generation who was legally barred from working after she got married. She resented that imposition but certainly didn’t take it out on us.
I was of a generation when women weren’t banned from working BUT I wanted to be here for young son, as much possible, during his school years so worked from home and at night. Clearly, this wasn’t ideal in terms of enhancing my career but something in me just couldn’t have a situation where I would hardly see our young son or have him spending hours in after school care settings, which I would have absolutely hated as a kid.
Life seems to have changed so much and economics demands that both parents work to try and cover costs. I just wonder if we, as a society, have done the right thing. Should schools be essentially childminding services? Have we put material things ahead of caring, for both young and old?
Is there any chance that a bit of silver lining from this horrendous pandemic will be a reassessment of what we are doing, why we are doing it and whether there are better options for all involved in the complexity that is ‘family,’ ‘economy,’ ‘rights,’ equality’ and ‘loving care?’
There was a ferocious thunderstorm here last night and I am still trying to get over the mad panic that engulfed me. I fear lightening more than most things in life and it certainly didn’t help back in my early twenties cowering under the stairs with a girl who lived in a flat beneath mine to hear that her father had been struck dead by lightening.
My own father did his utmost to try and de-sensitize me. He loved storms and would stand by a window watching the flashes over the sea. I was half alright when he was there to hide behind but only barely …..
Anyway, the storm has passed, as they tend to, and I went in search of a quote to celebrate. This is the one that caught my eye:
Joy weathers any storm; Happiness rides the waves.
He lived to the grand age of 90 and had great insights into the Ireland of yore.
Crazy stuff like driving from his hometown in the West right across the country when he had never driven a car before; going to the pictures 6 0r seven nights a week; having to spend Christmas minding a bank house as he was the youngest in the office; running back into a burning building to retrieve a box of golf balls when they were extremely scarce here during World War 2; listening to aspiring politicians addressing massive crowds from the backs of lorries; American Wakes – saying sad farewells to people emigrating to American who had no hope of ever coming home….
But most of all it’s a few little sayings of his that are playing around in my head. The main one is:
What’s your preference?
He used to pose this especially to Mother when it came to where they/we might go for a walk or a Sunday drive.
The bit that makes me smile about this is I always knew where I would find them walking if they weren’t at home when I popped in. Two possibilities: both looking out over the ocean.
I wonder what time he was born and how his Mama was feeling this time 101 years ago as her second child and first son was set to make his mark on the world…
There’s a convent round the block from our place and the nuns were kindly leaving books out on a table in the early days of ‘the lockdown’ for people to take.
I did my best to resist them lest they could by some chance pose dangers as virus carriers. Anyway, I looked from a distance and couldn’t resist taking a book of poetry which I put away for weeks before touching it again.
It is a real gem and here’s one of the poems that I found in it today. I hope you enjoy it.
When the heart
When the heart
is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting
Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean on the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring.
The memorial for George Floyd was one of the most heart-wrenching ‘ceremonies’ I have ever seen.
America is at more than 5,000 miles from Ireland but George Floyd is a man who has come to touch all our lives. Those who spoke at his memorial were incredibly dignified, in spite of their grief, and I sincerely hope that their longing for major changes in race relations will come to pass.
I know there are all sorts of historical issues at play but surely it is time for us to fully recognize the crucial importance of equality.
What matters to me is a person’s heart not the colour of their skin.
All the tears shed for George Floyd from across the world are the same, sad, salty tears.
May he rest in peace and may his death mark a turning point in the way we relate as the fragile, imperfect, striving human beings that we all are.
Next Monday is the day that we are due to be allowed travel 20km from home which is an increase from the current 5km restriction here in Ireland.
I’m like a child about it – thinking of all my favourite places that have been just out of reach. High on the list is a road along the Copper Coast which is festooned with Sea Pinks in May, early June. I am hoping to catch them while they are still in their glory.
But, there will also be all the beaches that are so close to my heart:
and going out to see the swan family in the Anne Valley…
There was always a saying in our house: While you’re resting for supper be sweeping the yard. Essentially, don’t waste time.
It has stuck with me and I often think of it when I am waiting for something or somebody and feel that I should be doing something useful.
I heard of a woman a while ago who installed a piano in her hallway and practiced musical pieces while hanging around waiting.
The two things that are key for me are deadheading flowers in the garden or doing Spanish on my phone App.
I especially love deadheading as it’s outdoors and really gives me a sense of giving hope to plants.
The Spanish is going very nicely but I feel now that I need to find somewhere to put it into action in a real Spanish speaking place. So that sends me into reveries about the vast areas of the world where Spanish is spoken.
No doubt most people have a few ‘while you’re resting for supper’ activities. What are yours?
It’s Mother’s anniversary today – eleven years on.
She adored poppies and this one was in her garden.
She gave us an undying love for nature which I see as one of the most precious gifts any parent can give a child.
Long before anyone was talking about mindfulness, she had us engrossed in our little plots in the garden, lost in the joy of bird-watching, merged with the moods of the sea, enraptured by fleeting rainbows….
Yes, she ensured that her presence would live on through natural beauty and it is a presence that never fails to make me smile.