Changing Times

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?’

 

 

The Road from 5km to 20km

The Copper Coast, Co. Waterword

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:

Garrarus, Co. Waterford

and going out to see the swan family in the Anne Valley…

The Anne Valley, Co.Waterford

 

 

 

 

No Escape

I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to household duties and am a great one for shoving things into already crammed spaces just to make it seem like I am at least half civilised.

My ways have been rightly found out in the last while as hubby has been off work due to the Covid restrictions. He is much more ‘house proud’ than I am and has taken to cleaning out presses, cupboards, rooms, behind beds, under cushions … you name it, he’s finding it.

I have just made a mad attempt to scour out the fridge before he got cracking on it and it’s now pristine and half empty with in-date stuff. No more landslides for the moment, every time the door is opened.

I blame my grandmother, Jean, for all this cos she was every bit as bad as I am but you should have seen her garden with its array of vegetables and healthy flowers. She also minded the lambs and hens and baked the most delicious food, some with her homemade butter.

I loved her house and all the clutter that came with it. I can just see her in my long distance memory calling me to help her to collect some newly laid eggs.

No doubt, I am not alone in being discovered during this lockdown. I guess it could be a helluva lot worse!

Now to try and find my jacket, which is probably hanging up somewhere  in astonishment …

So Glad to be Asked

I guess I am not alone in feeling that staying at home isn’t doing much in terms of putting a shoulder to the wheel to try rid us of this virus.

It all reminds me a bit of a time when I was pregnant and not allowed to do a thing because of high blood pressure. I was moaning to my mother about being so useless and she said, “You’re doing a very important job, giving your baby the best possible chance of survival and good health.”

This lockdown scenario is even more important than that because there’s more than just one life involved – It’s potentially millions around the world.

Having said all that, I was thrilled to be able to post a few letters today for a woman I hardly know who is in complete lockdown.

I know now that I have got to keep thinking of how we’re not doing nothing, we’re doing arguably the most significant thing we will ever do as a collective.

Be safe, my friends and don’t hesitate to ask …..

On the Subjects of Age and Disabilities

I have to admit to feeling very upset today over the whole matter of how it is emerging so strongly that people in care homes are finding themselves caught in the horror of COVID19.

Most of my working life related to the experiences of people with disabilities and especially those who were living in residential care and later on I was very much involved with older people.

I think of all the fantastic individuals I have been so privileged to get to know through lengthy interviews and time spent staying in residential care settings.

It was always their  individuality that struck me and not the shared fact of being in a category of ‘older person’  or ‘a person with a disability.’

Now it feels like the categorizations are back and the ‘people’ behind the walls of care homes are being half or more than half forgotten about as the rest of the world thinks about freedoms after lockdown.

Neither older age nor disability make a person any less of a precious human being than anybody else. Neither age nor disability strips a person of feelings, hopes, fears or love of life any more than anybody else.

Of all the people I think about today, my great-aunt Anna stands out. She was the bright romantic star who married for the first time, aged 72, and lived out her last years in a nursing home. Her short term memory wasn’t great but she was as loving, caring, full of fun as anyone I have ever known. At 89, she was game for anything and knew how to listen and advise in a most empathetic way. Age didn’t matter a damn to her, as she would put it.

A Youthful Aunt Anna

I can’t bear to think of anyone being viewed as somehow less important than another but know in my heart that if this virus was posing a major threat to millions of children, it would be taking on a whole different aspect.

Obviously, I wouldn’t wish it on any child but I think we have to see our more vulnerable people, especially those in care homes, as being every bit as important and precious as a child and yes I know how precious they are too, even 6ft 3in ones!

 

 

Puppy Stan

 

Stan

One of the most reassuring things about this odd time we are all going through is the way nature is still carrying on and the daisies and dandelions are appearing like they should.

Also, for me, the fact that Puppy Stan is oblivious to it all and is dedicated to his daily round and full of twirly welcomes, lends a strong element of normality to the abnormal.

I hope he truly knows how much I love him.

Days to Remember

I took this pic a few years ago near the house here.  In normal times, kids pass our house on the way to the various schools in the town. But, now there isn’t a single child in school uniform to be seen as all the schools are closed because of the virus.

I miss watching them as they are walking home, especially, as it’s a scene that reminds me of days to-ing and fro-ing from school, chatting to classmates about all sorts of things.

I find it amazing that I can remember those days as if they were today. Shared histories are so significant and I wonder how today’s kids will look back on this period in 4 or 5 decades time.

 

 

Two Kilometres

The current COVID19 guidelines for exercise in Ireland have brought the radius of two kilometres from home into very sharp focus as we are not allowed to wander outside that boundary.

I feel utterly blessed that the sea is within my 2km range as it feeds my soul and offers horizons of hope.

Tramore Bay, Co. Waterford

Thinking about the 2 km in broader terms has made me think of all the history associated with everyone’s place in this country. I have found myself looking a lot more closely at the buildings, twists, turns, shadows, gardens and pondering on what history is associated with an area I know so well and how all the people currently in my little 2km radius are actually dealing with these strange times.

We all try to put a brave face on things but I guess there’s no one who is completely at ease. Everyone has their own ways of coping and more than anything this feels like a time when there’s no running away or getting away. When I was a child I used to think that if the worst came to the worst The Isle of Man would be my saving place. I don’t remember my rationale.

Now, it’s about coping, hoping, helping and being sensible. My new approach to coping with attacks of paralyzing stress is to draw on a menu of 5-minute treats, like trying to sketch a flower, listening to a song, reading a poem, petting the dogs, writing a haiku, making a smoothie and suddenly one becomes absorbed and the tension recedes.

Now a treat with puppy Stan and a walk within our 2 kilometres.

Take care, wherever you may be, dear friends.