Oliver & Grace

We met at a barbecue, a short ten years ago. For a number of years our paths crossed on a regular basis, and I entertained them to dinner in my home on a number of occasions. Oliver & Grace* were about ten years my senior, and I was fascinated by the story of their journey to true love.

Growing up in the same area of a Belfast suburb, Oliver & Grace first met in their teens as members of the same youth organisations. They quickly became friends and were soon inseparable. Grace’s mother did not really like Oliver, not for any particular reason, she just felt he was not right for her daughter.

Grace’s family were moving away, at short notice, to the UK mainland. She was only informed the evening before departure – not an uncommon situation back then – children were often excluded from plans or arrangements. Grace was rather forlorn when she told Oliver her news, but promised to write as soon as they were settled into the new house.

Two days later, Grace kept her promise and wrote to Oliver urging him to write and tell her all the local news.

A week later, she wrote again, and the one after that, but no reply was forthcoming. Waiting a couple of weeks she tried again, but no joy, she still never heard from Oliver. Sadly, she decided, Oliver had forgotten all about her or was not very keen to keep in touch.

Grace, settled into the routine of her new life and Oliver drifted to the dark corners of her memory box. With time Grace trained to be a nurse and after several years opened her own nursing home. Her mother died suddenly and as an only child, the funeral arrangements and clearing out the family home were down to her.

While grace was clearing her mother’s desk, she found a folder containing a bundle of letters. At first she thought that they might have been from her father, and sent to her mother before his death many years earlier.

Turning the bundle over, Grace gasped. The letters were all addressed to her and not her mother. The handwriting was familiar and a tear escaped from the corner of her eye. Oliver had written. Not once but every week for several months, long after Grace had stopped and thought she was forgotten.

Why? Why? Why? Asked Grace. Her mother had never mentioned Oliver’s name since they left the shores of Ireland, yet she kept these letters. All unopened!

It took three full days for Grace to work up the courage to write to the only address she had for Oliver and she included her phone number along with the address. Two days later the phone rang as she was about to make dinner.

It was Oliver.

Food was forgotten. They talked for a couple of hours, catching up on all that had happened in the intervening years. They vowed never to lose contact again. A month later Oliver travelled over for a long weekend.
Within the year, Grace sold the Nursing Home to her deputy, then packed up her belonging and headed home to marry Oliver. They never looked back. They were a wonderful couple, meant to be together and brought joy to all around them.

In the latter part of last year Grace became unwell and suffered great pain, seeking the help from her local medical practice, painkillers were suggested and prescribed, with Grace being told it was muscular. Showing no sign of abating, the pain increased all the while and stronger painkillers were administered. Oliver worried, but Grace tried to reassure him.

One morning Grace looked grey and unable to sit up in bed. Oliver decided he had enough. He changed his plans for the day and went straight to the doctor’s surgery. He did not mince his words and told them that he was prepared to sit there all day until a doctor came home with him to see Grace.

A doctor did go with Oliver. On examining Grace, he had her admitted to hospital immediately. Tests and scans began. Two days later Grace was told she had cancer.

Oliver went to see the Consultant and discovered the pain was due to a large mass pressing on Grace’s spine. As that sank in, Oliver asked, like we all would “How many years would you say Grace has left?

Years? Said the Consultant. I am not talking years. At most two months… or one!

That night Oliver phoned their few close friends to break the news. Tom and Anne offered to collect him the next day and take him to the hospital.

Tom got no reply to the doorbell, which was unusual, Oliver was always ready on the doorstep when someone was coming to collect him. Eventually Oliver found someone with a key and they went in to find Oliver was lying on the kitchen floor the kettle on its side on the floor beside him. Oliver was cold.

A Doctor was called. It was the same Doctor who came to see Grace, he thought death had occurred eight to ten hours earlier.

Tom now had the task of informing Grace, who was now unable to move her limbs, of the death of her beloved Oliver. He also undertook to make the arrangements for the funeral.

The first of the two months have past, but it is a waiting game for Grace, with her condition worsening with the days.

I hope for her sake the end comes soon.

The lesson for all of us is to: LIVE NOW. Make the moment a worthwhile one!

* Names changed for obvious reasons.

UPDATE: Grace died on 25th January 2013. R I P

Dear Mary,

‘Write a letter to someone I admire’ was one of the aims on my ‘To Do’ list for 2013. It was only yesterday, when checking to see how many items I actually managed to complete, that I discovered this one almost slipped through the net. With a last flourish, I plan to right that situation now.

Dear Mary,

It was a privilege to have known you, even if it was just a few short years. Well into your 80s when our paths crossed for the first time. I well remember the day. A tiny effervescent bundle with snow white hair framing an open smiling face and eyes that sparkled like diamonds.

The stories of your young days and wartime working in the drawing office at Shorts Aircraft factory, in Belfast, were fascinating. Water Polo, your favourite sport is one I am only familiar with, from your tales. You made it sound like so much fun. The tricks you played on dancing partners, the guys you liked and those you did not.

You were always contented with your lot in life, yet never married, despite being so admired and had many suitors through the years. – Your sister Madge, confided that to me. You were so proud and generous with you time for your niece and nephew and later their children: your grandnieces and grandnephew. They all loved you dearly.

You loved to hear Jack sing, and on mornings that we were collecting you, he gave the front passenger seat an extra dusting for our treasured passenger.

Having stopped driving years earlier, you were never afraid to walk the busy road to the corner, no matter what the weather, on the off chance you might catch a bus to Belfast. If none materialised, you had no problem accepting lifts from total strangers, who often went out of their way to take you to the destination you were headed for. I have the feeling those sparkling eyes won them over! Following these adventures you always came back with amazing life stories that they shared with you along the journey.

The hours we spent together thinking, talking and working on craft ideas were so rewarding. You had so many items at hand to solve an intricate or difficult project problem, and always made it fun. I loved the set of tiny real glass buttons that you gave me. I used two of them on Elly’s wedding outfit to attach the tiny hand made bag, for her items ‘old, new, borrowed and blue’. I know you would smile at the idea of me sitting up in bed, in the hotel on the morning of the wedding, making the bag by hand – beading included! The buttons did their work well and brought you close to our hearts on the day.

Your house was a treasure trove of furniture and well loved items from your late mother and grandmother’s homes. With each visit I found a new treasure that I had not noticed before, each had a story and your eyes danced as you lovingly recalled the memories. Nowadays young people must have ‘new’ and all modern conveniences that ping, sing or are touch control. Nothing these days is made to last, no stories or history to pass on, yet on many occasions, such as in our recent power cuts, it is the old reliable items from a previous age that see us through.

I must tell you about a wonderful young girl, Catherine or Kate as we called her, that I had the great pleasure of working with, after I was widowed. Kate, met the man of her dreams and often shared her tales of her romance and the fun that she shared with Peter and his sister Lois. The names were familiar, but I did not think any more about them.

Eventually Kate & Peter became engaged and a wedding was organised. I was privileged with some fellow work mates to be invited to the evening do! Chatting over morning coffee break at work, we ‘girls’ decided we would like to go to the church and see our friend actually get married, then meet up again in the evening to join the fun.

I arrived at the church early and sat into the back row. I noticed a woman moving about in the chancel and realised, even at that distance, that I knew her. Mary, it was Mildred, your niece! It was only than that I put two and two together and realised that Peter the groom, was your grandnephew! What a small world. Lois too played her part, she was a bridesmaid.

Peter & Cate are well settled into married life and now have three young children. Mary, you would be so pleased with Peter’s choice, they are well matched, a steady couple with many shared interests.

While Elly was here a couple of weekends ago, she was driving past where you lived, The house has been totally rebuild, but as Elly said “I am glad Mary’s house was built in the style of the old one!” It looks well and you would not be displeased.

As this year draws to a close, I spent some time thinking about and reliving memories of friends, alas no longer with us, who made an impact on my life. Mary, you left a mark on my heart in the nicest possible way.

For that I thank you,

Your forever friend,

Marie.

Tomorrow, I will run through the list to see where I fell down!

The doorbell rang

The doorbell rang,
I didn’t hear it
I was not near it,
Last thing on my mind.

In the kitchen,
Music blaring,
Just not caring
food preparing, lunch was on the ring

Sitting eating
Cold weather meating
Extra treating
Enough to warm and make me sing

Through the mail box
Dropped a note,
You missed delivery
Silly goat!

Wrap up warmly
Start your journey
Step out spritely
Don’t forget to bring that note!

Reach post office produce ID
Hocus Pocus, dear girl focus
Collect a parcel,
Addressed to me.

Skipping fast
precious parcel grasp
Under my oxter
A mind full of wonder

Finally home
the tape was cut
box ends open
packing paper removed.

SURPRISE!

Here on the floor
Glories galore
Texture and colourful treasures
A surprise gift for months of pleasure

Glorious yarn gift.

Glorious yarn gift.

A box filled with a selection of yarn, gifted to me all the way from California.

Thank you Brighid, from the bottom of my heart and already twitching fingers!

Now let the crafting party begin!

My best friend

I did have a ‘best friend’ but unfortunately illness and age took my Anam Cara from me.

A friend is: A PERSON WHOM ONE KNOWS, LIKES, AND TRUSTS. There are many in my life who fit this description.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a friend as:

1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem
   b : acquaintance

2 a : one that is not hostile
   b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group

3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)

4 : a favored companion

5 capitalized : a member of a Christian sect that stresses Inner Light, rejects sacraments and an ordained ministry, and opposes war —called also Quaker

I wonder which of the above you think fits our particular friendship

I wonder if Delores, from Life on a Limb was checking up to see if we actually had a friend, never mind ‘My Best Friend‘, by suggesting this topic? 😉 You know I am teasing her, we are all good friends in the LBC, even those who are sleeping! For sleeping read busy, working, distracted or on holiday. The names are all listed over in the sidebar.

Why I was missing

Monday morning and I am still away from home. The glorious sunshine continues and at times the temperatures are way above my comfort zone. I think I was born on a bad day for thermostats… my body copes badly with extreme heat or cold.

My week began well with interesting activities right through to Wednesday night. I was due to move to Elly’s on Thursday and had arranged to meet up with one of my brothers for coffee or lunch.

Alas, I woke with a bug, and after a delayed start I thought I was well enough to keep to my plans…. thinking is one thing….

I set out to join the M50, motorway – a C-shaped ring around the north-eastern, northern, western and southern sides of the capital city, Dublin. I am no stranger to it and have been using it since it was completed in 2005. It is the gateway to reach many of my family and friends.

On Thursday I was headed for junction 13, sure it was a case of taking the slip road followed by a couple of turns and I would be there at my brother’s gate…. thirty minutes at most! Getting to junction 13 slip road was no problem. It was the beginning of a nightmare!

Before you ask, I do not use a GPS, I hate them. I prefer to look at a map, note the places I am going through and follow the road signs.

The area between Dundrum and Sandyford is now like a satellite town, buildings sprouting like weeds everywhere and no recognizable land marks to cling on to. The road signs were confusing. Very confusing. I was going round in circles, the day was getting hotter and my energy levels sinking faster than the air from a burst balloon. I pulled over.

I called my brother and he sorted me out, we had our coffee. I was poor company, but he told me it was the reason he always suggested meeting me on my turf or temporary place of abode, because unless you were actually living in the area, it was impossible to find.

I arrived back at Elly’s house mid afternoon and headed for bed. I slept most of the day and the next. By Saturday evening I was beginning to feel peckish and George tempted my taste buds with tasty morsels. It worked.

Yesterday I was well enough to join the Pratt family for George’s birthday (actual date 17th July) party/BBQ with fifteen people and ten dogs. it was fun! Well worth all the sleep of the previous days! More photos and details to follow.

Another Granny does her thing

The title is not mine, it was suggested.

The photos were not taken by me, but I promised them back at the beginning of June.

Sure you know what a brazen hussy I am…. And the same guy was involved in that story too.

You might remember, I wrote about having a call from my friend Brian, while he was out walking one morning. He noticed something outside a house that made him think of me, so he phoned. Although it was a road he knew well and travelled almost daily when at home, he rarely passed there on foot. The road is narrow and with a lot of traffic so stopping in the car is not an option.

So what did he see…..

What a wonderful way to re-purpose those books that you are finished with and perhaps discover a few treasures that others leave outside your door!

The final photograph is the view of Dublin Bay from behind the book box, on a grey day. Taken from Baldoyle, it is looking southward.

Dublin Bay, on the east coast of Ireland, is curved like open arms ready to give a great big hug to all who visit! The bay is about 10 kilometres wide and stretches from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

 Photo credit: Bronwen Maher's Dublin Bay

Photo credit:
Bronwen Maher’s Dublin Bay

Thank you Brian, for the photos!

Five years

In ways five years is not a long time.

Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago.

While searching online for something totally different this morning, I somehow came across this:

The people behind the blogs say hello, please.

That one little sentence brought bloggers out of the woods… like a colony of ants on a sunny day. Well over forty of them stood as if at an AA meeting to recite their names and share their blogs.

Looking down that list, they were all familiar names to me, most I had met in real life. A fun bunch of people, quite a few were younger than my daughter. Only one that I know of, has been taken from us and the woes of this world. RIP Debbie. Many have moved on to other more instant distractions like Facebook and twitter, but quite a few continue to blog.

I had met the questioner across a crowded room a few months earlier. Bloggers, meetings, social events, they all went hand in hand. I was often heard to say back then: The wonderful thing about blogging, is that you get to know the person from the inside, without the distraction of the outer wrapping!

Our friendship grew and we have remained friends. I think!!!!!

Why am I mentioning this today, you may well ask. As Ramana would say: Serendipity!

It has come to my notice that Blog Awards Ireland 2013 announced the date for the awards event on 12th October 2013 in the Osprey Hotel in Naas.  Nominations are now open.

Anyone from around the globe, can nominate their favourite Irish blog for one of the thirty one categories.

In previous years all nominated bloggers needed to be resident on the island of Ireland to be eligible. This year there is a new category:

Best Blog From The Irish Diaspora

This category is open to any blogger who has Irish roots and lives overseas. It can be about any topic and must be a good quality blog. Open to those blogging in all countries.

I do notice an extra question for this category: From which county in Ireland does the blogger hail from? An answer is required in order for the Nomination to be accepted. So sorry, being third generation Irish will not help. 😦

You can add a ‘Nominate Me’ Button to your blog sidebar.

Nomination button for Blog Awards 2013

Nomination button for Blog Awards 2013

Full instructions of how to do so can be found on the link above.

Now before you go rushing off to nominate all your sisters, cousins and aunts, I would advise you read the list of criteria.  Three of the twelve are below:

  • Are blog posts written consistently/updated regularly?
  • Interaction on the blog in the form of responding to comments and engaging in conversations.
  • Attractive design and ease of navigating.

The Blog Awards are a wonderful platform to discover new friends and sure you never know whose bed you might end up in… even if like me, you get to sleep in it alone!

As we say in Ireland: Have a think, then go nominate and don’t forget to book your bed while you are at it!

A bull whip Part two

Right class; who remembers A bull whip?

1bullWhip

bull whip from Wikipedia

Ach, come on now, sure it was only five days ago. There might be some excuse for me right now, sure aren’t I getting on a bit….. and drugged to the gills, so you can expect me to get a fact or three wrong. Right?

No way. Not with a legal eagle for a toyboy. He keeps me on my toes.

He swears on all dem big hard bukes. You know the ones….. Every TV drama about the law from Perry Mason, to Rumpole of the Bailey, The Good Wife or Kavanagh Q.C. have a wall of leather bound legal books behind a ginormous desk!

I bet my toyboy eats them for breakfast.

So where did I go wrong?

First off:

Brian reminds me that he joined the musical society after he left school, through a couple of lads who were already members at the time. He began by making some posters for a Talent Competition to raise funds… then he was asked to man the sweet shop at the intervals and slowly he became more involved. he remembers coming to see me at home, prior to Viva Mexico which was a production before Kiss Me Kate.

Secondly:

I did go to Callaghans for the whip, but they were not theatrical outfitters as I stated in my earlier post. They were saddle harness and horse-clothing makers, at 13 to 16 Dame Street, Dublin. That was why asking for and having the whip free of charge for the duration, made such an impression on Brian. I know I should have given the memory corner of my brain a big stir before submitting my homework to print, so with knuckles well rapped, 😉 I did a little research and found this humorous poster:

Callaghan & Co

Callaghans Poster from Wikipedia

P.J. Bourke, were theatrical costumiers, in Dame Street, Dublin, (1906-1994). They were in-laws of Eamonn Andrews – Presenter of This is your life (Uk Version). He married Grace Bourke, who lived with her family on the same Avenue where I grew up.

While looking for a photo of Bourkes, I found this interesting article from May 1993.

Gings, another theatrical costumier, was to be found on the other side of the street and I found a picture of Gings in Dame Street Click on the link to see it.

So I got there eventually, sorry it took so long.