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 sense of place.
The term ‘eye candy’ is one that I came to late in life but I’ve always been a glutton for colour.
Mother had a big thing about ‘eye appeal’ when it came to food and always had a pot of herbs on the go to ‘garnish’ plates that she felt needed a bit of a lift. I loved being the one to dash out the back and bring in a sprig of parsley, some chives, feathery fennel or maybe a mixture of everything and watch her transform plain to picturesque.
These memories of Mother are like interlopers on what I intended to write. Funny how that happens. I guess it’s because she appreciated the little things and life is made up of tiny, tiny moments which we need to appreciate as they are so precious.
So, I will just savour this moment and I hope you stop and appreciate a tiny memory from your day, week, life or loved one who has died but certainly not without leaving lots of shared moments to treasure.
It was on the first Friday in July in 1999 that Rescue 111 crashed in dense fog in the sand dunes of Tramore Beach. That year the first Friday was July 2 but this year it’s today.
The four crew who lost their young lives that night live on in our memories here in Tramore and we continue to live in awe of their bravery.
Tonight, I really want to salute the four men who perished that terrible night and send fondest wishes to their families, friends and colleagues.
Sgt. Patrick Mooney, aged 34
Capt. David O’Flaherty, aged 30
Capt. Michael Baker, aged 28
Cpl. Niall Byrne, aged 24
Sadly, 2017, which marks the 18th anniversary of the loss of the crew of Rescue 111 is also a year which has seen the deaths (March 14) of all four crew members of Rescue 116 in Co. Mayo. This tragedy is still very, very raw and has underlined, yet again, the extent to which those who work in Search and Rescue and risk their lives for the rest of us deserve to be recognised as true heroes and thanked by us all from the very bottom of our hearts.
There’s all sorts of ways of getting from Tramore to Waterford – it’s just about 8 miles.
I love all the roads for different reasons and each has its own landmarks. Some are very personal to me and others are much more widely recognised.
The farm buildings on the ‘Back Road’ that you see in the photo below really stand out with the white-washed walls and high up green grain doors.
I make a point of taking the Back Road on sunny days just to see the shadows of the trees playing on the old well kept wall.
It’s always lovely knowing that Tramore and the sea are waiting not far over the little hill in the distance and that you might well catch a glimpse of a horse looking out over a stable door in the evocative farm yard.
I was flicking through some photographs that I took while I was on my blogging break and came across a few from a little expedition up the cliffs near Annestown on the Copper Coast which is about 8 miles from Tramore.
In ways, it’s like another world and to a large extent it’s a place that belongs to other times.
The cliffs remind me of May 1985 when Mother and I stayed in a caravan overlooking Annestown Beach and with views almost as far as Tramore. We were based there for an interim period between moving from Clonmel back to Tramore where Mother and Dad had lived for the first 15 years of their married life and where they lived out their lives up to 2009 and 2010 respectively.
I was supposed to be ‘helping’ with the move but somehow managed to avoid a lot of ‘mullacking’ (hard word) and spent endless hours exploring the cliffs with Mother and just savouring them in glorious Summer weather.
I feel that Mother would be more than pleased to know that I am here remembering those sun-kissed days tonight before I head to bed knowing that her 8th anniversary will have slipped by just before sunrise tomorrow.
We certainly slept well in that caravan ~ as we were getting so much sea air, dining al fresco, going for swims, walking the cliffs and sitting outside with our cups of tea chatting long after the sun had set.
On those nights, just as on the night she died, I would have said ‘Goodnight Irene’ as we drifted into sleep. That was part of our secret code a la Jim Reeves.
I was introduced to the world and art of Claude Monet by my father when I was very young and when get even a hint of a water lily, I am transported to treasured hours spent with Dad turning pages of big hardback Monet art books ~ our heads, hands and hearts moving in unison.
I saw my first water lilies of the year this weekend ~ as colourful, fresh and delicious as anyone could wish for:
Monet has been playing on my mind since and I’ve been perusing some of his quotes. Here are the ones that appeal to me most. I hope you like them:
“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”
“The further I get, the more I regret how little I know…”
“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
” It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them. “
And, naturally as a bridge lover, one of my very favourite water lily paintings by Claude Monet is this one:
This is one of my rollercoaster weeks as it includes son, Harry’s birthday (22), and my mother’s anniversary (1921-2009).
It has also been a week which has seen the horrific bombing in Manchester and a number of terrible tragedies here in Ireland.
I suppose it’s not surprising that I have found myself reflecting on all sorts of issues around life, love, loss and grief. The following are among the many thoughts that have been flitting around in my heart and mind:
#1. The fragility of life is mesmerising. While we need to be very aware of this fragility in order to make the most of every moment, it is something that dances around like sunlight playing with trees in a soft breeze.
#2. To love and be loved brings with it the risk/likelihood of having to deal with loss.
#3. Losses are not objectively categorisable in terms of their level of awfulness. To go down that road is to over-simplify what is a highly complex matter ~ and we need to be conscious that a whole host of factors come into play in terms of how losses are processed by different individuals and that one person may process losses in his/her life very differently.
#4. While there may be competitiveness in the cut and thrust of life ~ competitiveness has no place when it comes to grief and grieving.
#5. We need to recognise that there is no single best way to grieve or to deal with people who are grieving.
#6. We also need to be acutely aware that what may appear like the same loss in say a family context may well be dealt with very differently by the various members of the family. Remember that each family member is unique and has unique relationships with other members of the family.
#7. The extent to which we love someone does not necessarily equate with the grief we feel when they die. We may have a sense that a person has passed on a legacy of strength and that is something that can sustain us through what can appear on the outside to be an overwhelming loss.
#8. It is impossible to know how anyone will react to the death of a loved one, no matter how expected or unexpected that death is.
#9. Memories of loved ones who have died live on in a host of different ways and cling to all the senses, especially touch, smell, sight, sound and taste.
#10. Memories can be extremely vivid and key moments may remain etched in one’s being for years and years and years. Those key moments may well involve exchanges with people around the time of the death of a loved one as our senses may be very heightened as we seek to cope with what may seem like the overwhelming.
#11. Life is for living; life owes us nothing; we have no ‘entitlement’ to live to a great age.
#12. Love should be nurtured, treasured, celebrated and scattered to the winds as well as held close to the heart.
#13. The sharedness of life and love, lived to the full and with as few regrets as possible, are anchors that can sustain us through unthinkable losses and terrible tossings of grief.
Puppy Stan here and I’m not so sure I should be here but I was missing you all and saw my chance to get my paws onto the computer.
Lucky little me, I’ve been at the beach pretty much every day since I last wrote and I even got to have a seaweed bath. I heard people talking about how good they are for your skin so I thought my coat could do with a bit of oiling up so I took to the most seaweedy rock pool I could find.
Cool, isn’t it?
I hope you’re de-stressing as much as you can ‘cos as I say:
It’s when you’re all relaxed that you get the best out of yourself and everyone around you.
P.S. Please don’t tell Jean I was here ‘cos she mightn’t be too impressed. I hope I can get all the bits of sand and seaweed off the keyboard. Help!!!!!!!
The little girl let go of her father’s hand at the bottom of the wooden steps to the beach, handed him her doll, and sat down to take off her socks and sandals.
We passed each other half way down and they both smiled at me and said a happy ‘hello.’ They looked so much at home and she was dancing along beside him in her bare feet, not caring about sand between her small toes. The sand was soft, silky and hot. I’d just been playing with it, letting it slip through my fingers, like I used to when I was a kid.
The modern word for their togetherness is ‘quality time,’ but this wasn’t timed time with quick glances at the hands of a watch or the digits on a smart phone. It was relaxed time; time to paddle, run hand in hand in the lacy wavelets, pet the big fluffy dog who was out for his constitutional with his master.
This was father and daughter time; building sandcastles and memories to last a lifetime and beyond.
How do I know?
I just do because of the way they looked at me with their eyes shining like mirrors.