Nature’s Balm

Woods and woodland gardens near the sea played a huge part in the long lives of both my parents and I suppose it’s only natural that they feel like a natural habitat to me.

When I was out in my beloved Mount Congreve last Sunday morning, a host of happy memories came flooding back through the sheer abundance of colour, texture, growth, fadings, promises …..

MCo2

Fleeting images of Mother with that serene look she always had when wandering in woods and among flowers that brought her back  to the farm of her youth in Co. Meath. How often she would quote these lines from George Byron:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 

Dad’s deep appreciation of  colour and how he introduced me to art from a very early age with visits to the National Gallery of Ireland. Over the subsequent years, we always found reason to meet in the National Gallery, even when it made no logistical sense. His happy tears when I gave him a book about Impressionism on his 90th birthday ~ just ten days after Mother had died on May 31st 2009.

And that pink-lilac skirt that I wore so endlessly when I was twelve or thirteen. It made me feel so grown-up with all its tresses. It was the skirt that I sported when we went to visit my brother in boarding school in the Summer term. I had such hopes of making a lasting impression on all his friends as I flounced out of the back of the Vauxhall Viva …..

And Mount Congreve waits ….. I am so looking forward to seeing the clematis flowing majestically from the tallest trees imaginable; and soaking up even more of the carpet of bluebells that grow even more beautiful with each passing Spring …..

 

 

Which YOU do You Reveal in Your Blog?

Do you find yourself grappling with the question of  which ‘YOU’  to reveal in your blog posts or am I alone and palely loitering on this one?

Today had many, many shades to it. The weather was beautiful and I had the most divine swim in the sea under the midday sun at my precious Garrarus Beach:

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford.
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford.

There followed an exciting offer of a project relating to poetry which has set my heart on fire.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.
(John Masefield)
 

Late in the day came the sad, sad moment, that I hesitate to mention,  when I collected the cremated ashes of my beloved Cavalier King Charles, Sophie, who died on January 11.  They are in a box of a woodland with bluebells just like Newtown Wood, where she and I walked every single day right to the very end.

Carpet of Bluebells Photo: Frank Tubridy
Carpet of Bluebells
Photo: Frank Tubridy

And this is just a glimpse of the ‘me’ that has woven her way through today.

So, which YOU do YOU reveal on your blog and which one do you hold back?

Lifelines and Losing Elderly Parents

Bluebells, Curraghmore, Co. Waterford Photo: Frank Tubridy
Bluebells, Curraghmore, Co. Waterford
Photo: Frank Tubridy

May 26th is a date that will probably stay in my memory forever as it marks one of the most difficult days of my life.

On this day four years ago, it seemed like I was about to lose both my elderly parents within hours of each other. In hindsight, I think it would have been fitting if they had left this world together as they were so united but back in 2009 when ‘the nightmare’ was unfolding it felt like the end of the world.

In short, Mother was in hospital for tests that would probably have ended in her having to be tube fed ~ not the end of the world but certainly not something that she would have wanted. Father had a severe heart attack and was deemed to be dying. Mother was told that Father was dying and she had a stroke from which she died 5 days later. Father survived the heart attack and lived on for a further 16 months during which he and I shared lots of intense father-daughter moments, hours, weeks, glances, tears, laughs, music and poetry…..

This morning, I went to Newtown Wood which seemed to recognise my sadness, and I won’t deny for a moment that I am sad today. However, the beauty of the Wood, which is carpetted with bluebells and the singing of the birds, was so heightened that it turned the sadness and pain into heightened wonder of the healing powers of nature, which meant so much to Mother and Father too.

As I have said so often before, there is no easy way to lose beloved elderly parents ~ and the road can be strewn with what seem like ‘end of the world’ days, like this one, for me, in 2009.

But, from my experience one can be shocked, too, by the extent to which ‘ beginning of the world’ things can happen, too, at terrible times. For example, on that evening in 2009 when I eventually came home from the hospital, knowing that Mother was dying and not too sure about how Father would fare, I found our family doctor sitting in the kitchen drinking tea with my husband. He knew that I would be ‘in bits’ and took the trouble to be here for us all when I arrived home an exhausted and emotional wreck. To me, that is the essence of caring and pure heart and I will forever be indebted to him.

May I leave you with another photograph, taken by my father, and one which Mother always loved.

Sheep at Evening in Co. Waterford Photo: Frank Tubridy
Sheep at Evening in Co. Waterford
Photo: Frank Tubridy