101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents #17~ To Thine Own Self be True


November 15 was always a very significant day in my parent’s lives as they got married on November 15, 1948.

They both lived to see their 60th anniversary in 2008 and this is now the fourth since Father died. While there were never any major parties or the like, they always marked their Anniversary by exchanging presents and by going on some sort of outing ~ maybe lunch out or a picnic by the sea if the weather was fine.

I’ve struggled with November 15th since Mother died in 2oo9. It’s a date that’s etched in my life calendar because of the ‘ceremony’ that always surrounded it and  the recalling of memories of that day that they tied the knot.

I wrote about possible plans for the day last year but in the end I didn’t do much more than write ~ I simply wasn’t able. I just wasn’t emotionally ready.

This year I felt different and I spent some lovely time today in celebrating a marriage that was fundamentally important to giving me life itself.

I was rather surprised to find that November 15th in 1948 fell on a Monday. I don’t know if Monday weddings were more common back then than they are now. I don’t know of any other couple who got married on a Monday!

Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford
Annestown Beach, Co. Waterford

So, I made my way to Annestown Beach this morning; had the obligatory cup of coffee, a paddle and carved a little memorial in the sand.  It all felt so right and the gorse was in full bloom out around there ~ when the gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of season. 

Gorse at Annestown, Co. Waterford
Gorse at Annestown, Co. Waterford

Today seemed just the right day to buy my snowdrop and hyacinth bulbs ~ always such symbols of hope and inextricably linked to this time of year, especially for Mother.

On the way home, I decided to call into The Majestic Hotel here in Tramore. That’s where Mother and Father had their wedding reception. The hotel has been rebuilt since those days as you can see from the following photos:

The Majestic Hotel  Source: Waterford Co. Museum
The Majestic Hotel
Source: Waterford Co. Museum


Even though the buildings are different, I half expected to see the wedding party arrive into the hotel as I was sitting there sipping my latte.

Tramore Beach that was so special to both Mother and Father and where we shared so, so many precious hours, days and moments was my last stop.

There is was, just as it was back in November 1948, being watched over by the Metal Man and whispering its everlasting words of love.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

In conclusion, I would say from my experience, that the grieving process is very different for each individual and for each death in an individual’s life. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is only to do things when they feel right ~ not when you or someone else thinks the time should be right. 

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
(William Shakespeare ~ Hamlet Act 1)






Marking Special Days in the Lives of Parents who have Died

November 15th was always a special day in our house as it was my parent’s wedding anniversary. They got married in 1948 and lived to see their 60th anniversary. They were never into mad celebrations and parties but the anniversary was a very significant day in the family calendar and they exchanged gifts, often went out to lunch, talked about their wedding day and we kids gave them presents from when we were tiny.

So November 15 is a date that is etched in my genes, memory and heart and I feel it is important to prepare for such days, as they  inevitably bring a flood of memories which could be sad or which with a bit of pre-planning can be harnessed and celebrated.

Mother and Dad walking towards Marriage!
Mother and Dad walking towards Marriage!

I had a little brainstorming session about possibilities while out for a walk in the lovely Anne Valley here in Co. Waterford early this morning and here’s the menu that emerged to celebrate what would be their 65th anniversary.

1. Pay a visit to both the Catholic and Church of Ireland Cathedrals in Waterford City, which were designed by renowned architect John Roberts ( 1712-1796). My parents got married in the Catholic Cathedral but Mother remained very much a member of the Church of Ireland all her life.

2. Have a coffee in the Majestic Hotel in Tramore where they held their small wedding reception. http://www.majestic-hotel.ie/

3. Plant Spring bulbs in the much-loved blue pot which they bought in the gorgeous Kiltrea Pottery Shop near Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford many years ago.  http://www.kiltreapottery.com/

4. Google November 15th, 1948 and find out what was going on around the world that day.

5. Go ahead and sign up for Tango Dance classes after all these years! Father would be all for it as he was a whizz on the dance floor and Mother would laugh and say: Enjoy yourself and forget that you had a mother with two left feet!’ 

So, how do you celebrate special days in the lives of  loved ones who have died?

Swan Song ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 18

Marlfield Lake, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Marlfield Lake, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

As December draws to a close, I always find myself thinking more and more about swans. In part,  this is about a search for light but , for me, swans are the most elegant carriers of both sadness and hope. There is always a sadness associated with a year ending ~ especially if the year has seen the passing of loved ones. However, each new year holds the promise of  beginnings.

Yesterday evening, I went down to what I call ‘Swan Lake’ in Tramore, which is close to the Majestic Hotel,  in the hope of seeing the swans congregated as I had seen them last weekend at beautiful Marlfield Lake in Clonmel.  I was stunned to find that the lake was swanless and went home with a leaden heart. Then this morning, as I headed to the beach, there they were flying high over the Prom.

What magic! And, of course,  yet more thoughts of  the Irish legend of The Children of Lir and these lines from W.B. Yeats’ famous poem  The Wild Swans at Coole :

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.