May 26th ~ A Date that Haunts Me

May 26th, 2009 was a lovely hot sunny day, just like today. The lilac tree in the garden was in full bloom and our huge rhododendron was a blaze of crimson, just like it is today. It was a Tuesday too.

The Lilac Tree
The Lilac Tree

In spite of the loveliness,  it was the stuff that nightmares are made of.  Mother in hospital for tests; Dad having a heart attack in the early hours of the morning and begging, begging, begging for something to ease his suffering.

Mad dash to the hospital with Dad; Mother then told that he was dying and having a stroke within the hour from which she never recovered consciousness and died 5 days later. Dad didn’t die ~ and went on to live for a further 16 months.

Six years on, it still feels incredibly raw and I suspect that it probably always will.

However,  I’m getting better as the years pass at not trying to fight this day and know that there will always be reminders like lilac, the vanilla scent of  Clematis Montana; the first rounds of the ice-cream van, lengthening days; deck chairs …..

Mother and Father were extremely close and it came as no surprise to me that she died from the shock of hearing that he was dying. It would have been so fitting for the two of them to go together.

More than anything, now, May 26th whispers words like Hope and Love at me.  It also makes me remember that wonderful smile that father gave me when he came around and his words: I’m so glad to see you, Child.

Grown-up children never lose their childishness and parents are always parents.

Love and Hope
Love and Hope


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

34 thoughts on “May 26th ~ A Date that Haunts Me”

  1. I remember thinking it was so weird for people to remember death dates. Why focus on that? Then I started losing important people in my life. Clarity. I suspect this date shall remain raw for a very long time. (Yesterday, Austin, my first-born, would have been 19). May 23 was the two-year anniversary of my father’s passing. And I could go on.

    You are correct, you will get better, the pain won’t hurt so much and you said it, the date now whispers Hope and Love to you now. Hugs!

  2. You have faced the day square in the face , you have survived another year. I send you hugs and support. and a happy song to ease your evening. I really miss my Mum and Dad too.

  3. Bitter-sweet memories..It’s so hard to lose someone we love especially our parents..siblings, friends and pets..Something always brings back that person we so loved a scent, a song, a saying, even other people who resemble our loved one. I can remember after my Mom passed away, it had been years. I was at a grocery store and this other lady so resembled my Mom…I went up to her and asked her if I could give her a hug after explaing why..she said of course..just that little gesture made me feel her near me..My thoughts are with you…

    1. It’s weird but I did exactly the same. Working at our stall, selling fudge in the sunshine on Minarie Key with the seagulls, boats and water slapping, I saw my ‘mum’. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and eventually, gave her a hug…


      I can
      only consider
      soft eyes
      calm, sweet face
      small breaths

      ’til I realise
      they’re mine.

      I breathe
      and contemplate
      the alternative
      only when
      someone asks…

      Frances Macaulay Forde © 2006

  4. My heartfelt sympathies to you. What a nightmare, and the pain of loss and remembering is so hard. It is nice to think they are together, but hard to not have them around, although I hope you feel them near.
    If there is something more, I’m sure you as a parent know, you would never be too far from your son.
    I often think the times we mourn and remember are when we are closest to those we lost.

    1. Thanks Tric.
      They are a constant presence in my life as we shared so many interests. They were chalk and cheese personality-wise but shared an intense love of nature and sport. Dad was big into photography and Mother into writing and poetry so in lots of ways they are fundamental to the blog.

      1. Oh my goodness, you perfectly encapsulate the two of them in your blog. I often look at your photos and think ‘wow’, and you know I enjoy your writing

        1. Thanks Tric!
          It was mainly in the last year of Dad’s life that I started to get into photography. He was pretty much bed-bound but loved seeing photos of the ‘outside’ world. He gave me loads of advice about stuff like composition. Lots of happy memories of laughing over photos.

          Writing was pretty much always there but very much influenced by Mother who wrote a lot for publication from when I went to secondary school and she had more time to herself.

  5. I like you have experienced great loses piling up on one another in a short period of time! It is overwhelming and takes more time to process than the world wants to allow us. Even as you seek the joy of flowers and deck chairs please be kind to yourself and feel the grief if need be – it is a forever ebb and flow of emotion. Thinking of you as you remember.

    1. GG, thanks very much for your kind words. Your blog has been a great ‘friend’ to me over the last few years.
      I agree wholeheartedly about the cumulative effect of losses. There’s certainly no shortcuts.

  6. I will remember December 28 for the rest of my life. That was the day when my Dad passed away.

    Big hug from me ❤️

      1. Yes, definitely… My dad was my hero and I’m thankful for all the memories that I have. I’m sure that our parents are with us as often as they can, even if they’re not physically here.

  7. Oh, Jean, a day like yours would haunt me, too, and I’m so sorry for that memory and events. But as you said, the good memories and thoughts are what keep our heads above water. This sounds odd but it’s hard to believe that my Dad has lived three years more after my Mom’s passing. They were together and attached at the hip for 70 years so we thought they would “go together.” He misses her so much though and now things are really slowing down at the age of 95. I had my differences with both of them; my sisters did also. But we loved them and will forever. I fear not having any parents alive; such an empty feeling…hugs to you and thanks for sharing this…

    1. Hi Lauren, thanks for writing.
      It must be very tough seeing your father missing your mother so much.

      As for not having parents alive, it’s completely different to what I had feared as their presence is so much a part of everyday in terms of remembering the tiniest little things.

      I wish I’d known how it would be when I dreaded their dying so much.

  8. Hello Jean,

    Just read your entry for 26 th May, we think of our parents every day, but the significant dates insist/invite our thoughts even more, all the whys and if onlys and I should/could haves. If only we could discuss the whole events with the people who have died, I imagine conversations with them, some times it helps, other times not . I know they also had to live through their losses, this is the system. Why do we say Good Grief in exclamation ?

    Perhaps our comfort is to know we were loved and we acted as we were able…
    Be kind to yourself as they would wish.
    Kindest regards

    1. Hello Bern, thanks for writing.
      Yes, I totally agree about the way significant dates tend to heighten thoughts of those who have died and whom we have loved.
      I guess I was very fortunate with my parents that I got to talk with them about things that mattered so I don’t feel that need to talk to them now about the what ifs etc.
      However, that’s something that plays a little on my mind about other loved ones who have died.
      I suppose the lessons from our experiences are to engage with people when they are alive to the greatest extent possible and realise that they may be gone from our lives a lot sooner than we can ever bear to imagine.
      Thanks for your good wishes. Take care, j

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