That Inward Eye

Daffodils

The mere sight of daffodils brings me back to those precious evenings from January to September in 2010 when Father and I chatted, laughed, drank tea,  listened to music, sat in companionable silence and enjoyed poetry together.

As he drifted off to sleep I would always return  to William Wordsworth’s The Daffodils  and without fail Father would join in with me when I reached the last stanza:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

There is much that flashes upon our inward eyes but some things linger there as our anchors of love.

Almostness

Trees
Mount Congreve, Co. Waterford

The trees are coming into leaf like something almost being said.

Philip Larkin

There’s so many sides to almostness and  I seem to have been witnessing a good few of them lately. The trees coming into leaf are one of the blissful examples while spending time with a very dear friend who is breathing her last has been highlighting another side of this ubiquitous aspect of life.

Somehow, it seems to me, as I think about these opposite ends of the spectrum, that there are times when words don’t feel quite right. Rather, there is the shared knowing, the being at one, the companionable silence. The time for words will unfold in its own natural way and shouldn’t be forced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evenings with Dad

Kilfarassy Beach, which is about four miles from Tramore, always evokes thoughts of Dad. He first came to love it in the early 1940s when he came to Waterford as a young bank official. Having grown up by the sea in rugged Co. Clare, he had an instinctual need to see tall cliffs and sunsets.

Sunset.jpg
Golden Light

It was the place where he brought us for swims and picnics when we were kids and it was the place where he and I used to go for our evening outings when he was nearing the end of his life. We’d go for a tiny walk, linking arms, and then sit in the car and watch the sunset. Sometimes, we would just sit in companionable silence; other times, we’d chat about his memories, our shared memories or about things that we wanted to discuss in absolute private.

Sunset2
Beach of Dreams

Kilfarassy’s cliffs light up magnificently at sunset but our eyes and talk was always about that spot down at the end of the beach by the jaggedy rocks which was ‘ours.’ That’s where we once sat as a family ~ buckets and spaces, deck chairs, togs, towels and the leaky thermos flask wrapped in an old tea towel.

Sunset3.jpg
The Eye of the Cliff

Both of us had a fascination with the eye of the cliff right out at the edge. We called it ‘the eye’ but there were times when we thought it was more like a big arm enfolding or maybe a heart.

Sunset1
Waves of Emotion

The chance to have all those shared hours with Dad, especially in his last years, is something I treasure beyond description. Sometimes, he would nod off to sleep in the car on the way home but never once did he nod off when we were watching the sunset and waiting to soak up the afterglow.

 

 

Dreams

Dreams

Dreams

Dreams
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

(Langston Hughes)

This poem speaks more directly to me than any other about the importance of identifying, pursuing and never letting go of dreams.

My dream for many, many years now has been to make a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society, especially those who have serious health issues or are nearing the end of life.

This is a dream I have been able to fulfill to a considerable extent at different periods and in different ways over the years. But there is still a lot more to do and the dream lives on just as strongly as ever.

How do you feel about YOUR dreams and would you be happy to share what it is you really want to achieve in this life?

 

Burial or Cremation? ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 249

I have dithered for a long time about writing this post as I know that, for some people, it relates to a very sensitive topic and one which they may not even wish to think about.   On the other hand, I also know from personal experience that many people, in Ireland especially, have little or no knowledge about cremation and would like to know more.

Cremation seems to be the  absolute norm in our extended family but it would seem that we are in the minority.  Jennifer Muldowney (2013) in her excellent book Say Farewell Your Way: A Funeral Planning Guide for Ireland (Oak Tree Press: Cork) says that over 11% of deaths in Ireland now involve cremation with the figure for Dublin at approximately 30%.

My awareness of cremation began many years ago when my mother made it  clear that she wanted to be cremated. This was something that she talked about very openly  and I have to say it was very calming to know her wishes and to be able to fulfill them for her.  The whole process, while obviously very sad, was beautiful in a sense which I had not quite expected.

In overall terms, I think it makes a huge difference to grieving families and friends if they know the wishes of their loved ones about issues such as burial vs cremation and it saves a huge amount of second-guessing at a time when minds and hearts are not necessarily in good shape for that.