What Colour is Pain?

I banjaxed my back on Friday and am way out of my comfort zone, to say the very least. There was a time when my back was bad, bad, bad for years on end and I became quite an expert on every conceivable kind of therapy from the very orthodox to the wildly alternative.

In the middle of that period my mother quipped that the pain was such a constant companion that I’d miss it when it was gone. Of course, she knew that once it had gone that I would very quickly forget those nerve jangling efforts of trying to turn in bed and the wobbly walks measured in half paces with breath held braced for the next muscle spasm.

Of course, what I miss in the throes of this latest ‘episode’ is having Father arriving up to the house with ‘meals on wheels,’ carefully wrapped in Mother’s love and emphasis on eye appeal.

‘Eye appeal’ generally meant a sprig of fresh parsely or maybe an edible nasturtium.

One of the most important things that I learned back then about pain was the importance of leaning into it rather than fighting against it and one way that I tried to make friends with it was through colour.

I think I must have had a premonition about the back caving in on Thursday last when I was out in Mount Congreve because I got to wondering about ‘blues’ and low mood.

Anyway, here’s the colour of my soft-tissued pain as I’m perceiving it now:

Pom-Pom Pain!


All in a Moment

It’s been a cold, windy day here in Tramore with Storm Jake making his presence felt. But storm or no storm, Puppy Stan and I needed our evening constitutional out at our precious Garrarus Beach.

We had the beach to ourselves and were treated to the delights of nature’s contrasts all in a few heartbeats. Yes, it was freezing but that was only a very minor matter, given the glory that unfolded.

Here’s just a tiny taste of it all:

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The contemplation of beauty causes the soul to grow wings. (Plato)



101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents #16 ~ Flowers

Sunflowers on the Tramore-Annestown Road, Co. Waterford

Flowers can be highly symbolic both during life and as a comfort after the passing of a loved one.

I totally associate sunflowers with my late father. He introduced me to Van Gogh’s great paintings of these bright, cheerful flowers and he loved to take photographs of them.

I bought him a huge big bunch for what I knew would be his last birthday in June 2010 and later that Summer brought him photographs of some beauties which people grow by their gate way on the road which he loved between Tramore and Annestown.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the progress of those sunflowers over the last few weeks and headed out there this morning in the mist to see if they were in full bloom.

The whole experience gave me such a strong sense of connection to Dad and I can only smile as I write this and think of the delight in his eyes when he saw me arriving with the bunch that day on his birthday.

It’s well worth finding out your parent’s preferences about  flowers ~ if you don’t already know them ~ and weaving them into your relationship with them.  They can have such a calming effect and it’s always great to know that the flowers will continue to bloom year after year and appear in all sorts of different places, such as poetry and art.

Sunflowers Vincent Van Gogh Source: Wikimedia
Vincent Van Gogh
Source: Wikimedia






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