Friday, July 22, 2016

The Chair



Image result for red chair by the window


It’ll be great they said, all the time in the world to do what you’ve always wanted to do now that himself is retired – to take life just as it comes, to travel the world, anywhere that takes your fancy. The luxury of lolling around all day in your pyjamas if you so desire, time to venture into the unknown so to speak, take up some new hobbies, tackle projects that you’ve always aspired to undertake but never had the time, explore new interests, grow your own veggies, become completely self-sufficient, how exciting … you’re SO lucky, they said.

Right.

Have you any plans, I ask.

No.
 
A man of few words.

You must have some ideas?   Slight note of desperation in my voice.

No, I don’t.  I think I’ll do absolutely nothing for a few months.  Give myself time to get used to this whole retirement thingy.  Relax, take it easy.

Right.

I gave him 6 months, in my head.

Generous to a fault.
  
I would be a paragon of virtue for 6 months. Tolerance on legs, happy go lucky, isn’t life wonderful, la di da di da.  

Six months, that is 180 days or thereabouts which is approximately 4320 hours, a third of which, 1430hours, I would, hopefully, be blissfully unaware of in the land of nod.  That left 2890 hours during which I promised to be on my best behaviour.  

Easy peasy.

Just over half way through the thousands of hours, the resolve began to slip a little, the halo appeared slightly tarnished, the temper a little less than sweetness personified.  Three months in and his life was most definitely in danger; big, dirty, black danger.

The chair by the window that normally accommodates my weary bones was now no longer available.
  
Ever.
  
I would roll in after a mornings work and hover meaningfully … all to no avail.  Sensitive, new age man, me arse.  

Will you have a cup of tea, I ask.  He never drinks tea.  Well sure, if you’re making one, I will.  Jesus wept.  This from the depths of my chair by the window, looking out on my garden with my birds twittering and singing to their heart’s content.  Insult to injury.  The tea is dutifully made. Courtesy and grace  somewhat lacking.  He, blissfully unaware of the rising athmospheric pressure.  I, to my credit, stop short of sulking.  Tea drunk, back off out to the working world.  Blue-arsed fly imitation for the rest of the daylight hours.   

Later in the day, I approach the kitchen, thinking it’s mine now, where’s the crossword, have a pen, kettle’s just boiled.

He’s in the chair.

Again.

It’s my turn, I scream.  Silently.  It doesn’t matter that it’s a scream because he is snoring.  Head back, mouth open, less than melodic noises escaping from the depths.  Ah, I hear his mother speaking in my head.   Sure he works so hard, poor man.  He must be tired.  She had her own chair, by a window too, which requires a papal dispensation for anyone other than her ladyship to park their bones in.

She doesn’t have to do battle with the niceties of selfishness.     

Master of illusion, I mutter.  Used to work so hard, I growl.  Will I smother him with the red or the blue cushion?  I could do it really quickly.  He wouldn’t feel a thing.  I indulge myself with misty dreams of a constantly available chair by the window, the sun shining through sparkling glass, the tantalising aroma of a dinner that I had no part in preparing, the pink pigs flying by.   

I let it go.  I’m bigger than that. 
  
           
      
   


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Worrying Concepts


It's been a while.

Three years of a while.  I don't know where to start.

I'm older but no wiser and I am now definitely an orphan.  A real orphan.  Gone are the founts of wisdom and compassion that I unwittingly depended on.  Gone is the life I blindly thought would continue forever.  In it's place, that old imposter, maturity, demands recognition.

Slowly, the realisation that I am now in the front row for the high jump is seeping into the withering grey matter.  

This concept is a little worrying.

The lord and master (he wisheth) is retired (albeit early) and has taken to the life of ease like the proverbial duck to water.  Embarking on all manners of adventures suitable for 30 year olds, he has put a serious dent in the number of cat lives remaining to him.  Having endured this state of chassis for nigh on 3 years, I can categorically say I will be taken out of the workforce in a box.  The offspring are threatening to make a grandmother out of me which is yet another worrying concept.  I am not altogether convinced that I am suitable material for this elevated position.  Thankfully, there is a body of water between the parents to be and this orphaned soon to be nana, granny, gaga or whatever other vile names that can be conjured up to describe this dubious honour.  I have also become invisible.

Where is the serenity and contentment that reputedly comes with the sixth decade?

Is it any wonder, given the state of the aforementioned grey matter, that the Muse has not passed Go, has not collected the 200 euro and is still awaiting the Get out of Jail card?

I am now going to push the publish button because I told my sister I would and she's all I have left. Did I tell you I was an orphan?  She's an orphan too.   She understands.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



Aimless Love


Fluff ball of pup, in a sack below a bridge, mewling.

Big farmer hands give back the life, warning the missus not to become too attached. 
We have enough dogs, gruff voice, he’s not up to much anyways.

He’s a she, the missus said.
All the more reason then, find it a home.
Silent night, frosty morning.  Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

Mewling and yelping from a yellow haired child.  
Santa read my letter, he did, and he brought me a puppy for my very own, he did.
A girl puppy.  Mine. I love her black hair with the browny bits.  And she loves me the best.
I know cos she licks my face. 
Delicious doggy kisses.
Skittery puppy feet on shiny lino, dancing into our hearts.
Quiet, yellow haired child filled with years of aimless love.

Time gallops by.
The yellow bird of our hearts grows wings and soars.
Trusting us to love whats left behind.

Seventeen is a great age for a dog, everyone says.
Seventeen years of aimless devotion.
Seventeen years of the purest love.

How do you tell a far away, yellow haired child that the source of her joy is gone?

 

   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013



The Brother.

He’s a bit odd they say.  Not unkindly.  Then, they are grown-ups with the tolerance and political correctness that comes with having walked the planet for a few years.   Everybody knows him.  The dogs and cats in his neighbourhood love him.  The children sometimes tease him and call him names.  He doesn’t seem to mind.  He’s been around a long time.  He is 62 years old now. 
When he was born, into a bitterly cold February morning in the Ireland of the early 50’s, he was in a hurry.  Two months early and a difficult birth left him and his mother struggling.  There is nothing to be done, they said, shaking their heads.  We would advise placing him in a home where he can be cared for with the best possible care.  End of story.
His mother wasn’t listening.  He came home.

Home to a family where he was loved unconditionally.

He suffered and grew.  He developed at a slower pace than other people’s children.  He eventually walked and ran with an exuberance that was enhanced by the inevitable delay.  He had a larger than life experience of being a little person.  Wandering away all the time.  Frightening the heart and soul from his mother’s existence.   Only to be discovered down the field by the stream watching for tadpoles for hours on end or sitting on the footpath near the main road waiting for the bus that would bring his daddy home from work every day at six o’clock. 

I used to watch him when he was about 12 and went out into our back garden.  My mother loved the garden.  She planted the flowers, roses and lilies were her favourites but every growing thing was welcome as long as it threw colour into her patch.  We had a long garden with a flower bed all the way up the left side.  There was a vegetable patch at the end and a beautiful cherry blossom tree on the right.  It was the flower bed that pulled him inexorably away from us into a world beyond our reach.  He would stand stock still in front of a flowering peony or a  glorious full-blossomed rose, staring intently.  His hands would come out in front of him and a force beyond our comprehension would suffuse his body, stiffening his every fibre, making his arms and body tremble slightly, taking him away from us to a world where differences didn’t matter.  The tremor would pass and his hands would come together again and he would move on up the garden path to the next promise of relief.  He would spend hours out there.  I soon lost interest.  I was too young to understand.  I used to look at my mother, she would just nod and tell me to go out and play.
He had a young, fierce temper.  Speech difficulties made it hard for him be understood.  Frustration made him bold and strong.  Made him cry and break things.  Made him tear his clothes.  Again and again.  We had a sewing machine in our house which sat permanently on the dining room table.  I would hear the soft clicking sound of the needle going up and down in the evenings as I lay in my bed in the room overhead.    

At night, when he went to bed, I would hear the brother rocking himself to sleep in the old iron bed.  The interminable rhythm seeping into my being, lulling me into a primeval safety of unchanging patterns.  I didn’t know he was different then.  I even tried the rocking myself but it didn’t seem to fit me.  So I used to just listen and watch the four corners of the ceiling descend until my nose was touching them, rolling my head away when it got too frightening.

The brother grew into a young man with the blinding expanse of approaching adulthood and limited possibilities.  One of his many obsessions growing up was the construction toy known as Meccano.  He loved to build and make things.  Hours would go by constructing various projects, losing himself in the art of creation.  At 15, having exhausted the tolerance of the local secondary school run by the local branch of the J’s, he went to the tech.  The school for the not so bright.  After 3 years there his mother decided an apprenticeship with a local cabinet making factory would be the making of him.  He served countless years as an apprentice and eventually became a master craftsman.
You would be well advised to put him in a home where he can be well cared for, they said.

He still went into the garden to look at the flowers.
As a young man his mother also decided he needed an outlet for the physical frustrations and encouraged him to join the local athletics club.  He excelled, training and running to exhaustion, winning medals and being part of a team.  He didn’t hear the unkind talk of the ignorant few.  He never fully fitted in but was accepted because it was a kinder time.  He made a name for himself making cabinets and running races.  He lived in the house he had spent all his life in with the woman who should have put him in a home but didn’t.  A simple, glorious life.

In 1984 my mother died.  His world became dangerous again.
Careening wildly through the next few years, he changed.  He was never a fool.  Negotiating his way through the maelstrom of seemingly well intentioned people trying to help, he developed an irrational distrust of all things official.  He trusted people he should have avoided because they were nice to him and ignored the ones who really did care.  He lost a precious innocence.  He discovered loneliness.  Loneliness on a scale that is incomprehensible.

He is 62 now and spending his days creating beautiful woodwork.  He is healthy.  He race-walks  instead of running races now.  Still winning medals.  Still kindly accepted for who he is. 
A human being walking the planet for a little while.

Occasionally stopping to look at the flowers.    

 

 

Friday, May 10, 2013

I wonder sometimes what makes people want to blog. To portray themselves as someone. With a life or without a life. It doesn't really matter. It has been a while since I wrote anything on my blog. I have thought about my lack of enthusiasm on and off and reasoned with myself. Made excuses even. Too busy. Nothing to say. Why bother. Who cares. Life is shite sometimes. And then theres no room for idle wondering. Anyway. The last year or so has been a time of change. Unsettling. Restless. Isolating. But today the light went on again. Which has me here dithering. I could write about the dismal hole in my heart gouged out by the death of my beloved Larry. But death happens, it is an inevitable part of living. I could write about another of life's inevitabilities. The empty nest. Even as I type that I can feel myself snoring at the thought of it. It happens. I could write about the delights of having the newly retired offering me cups of tea 500 times a day. I could also write about the weather. The choice is endless. There lies the crux. I never was good at making decisions.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Empty Nest



Its been a while.

Tempus fugit etc.

I'm wondering what I'm doing back here. I'm also wondering why I stopped coming here in the first place.

Thats a lot of wondering. Or wandering even.

A lot has happened in the year that I've been wondering or wandering.

Two of the offspring have gone to the other side of the world to spread their wings and not a backward glance between them. There is a tiny voice inside of me that screams "don't go so far away" but it disappears into the air.

The last of the offspring, in his final year, watching his siblings fly, is champing at the bit to test his own wings.

I didn't ever think when I was in the throes of rearing children that they would eventually grow up and want to fly so very far away.

How blind was I?

The house is rattlingly empty.

I miss them.

I want to leap to the other side of Xmas so I don't feel anything remotely resembling loneliness.

What right have I to feel this way when I have two of the offspring coming?

None.

But I still feel like jumping.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Days



Last year we had a quiet house. Just GB, myself and one of the offspring. The two peacocks off about their business, one in sunny Spain and the other residing with his lady love in the same city but it might as well have been on a different planet. There was no oonce-oonce music, no damp towels gathering mould under beds, no size 12's lying around waiting to be tumbled over, no dirty dishes growing mould beside the couch. Tasty edibles always available. It was very nice. And quiet.

But, now, they are back. The fruit of my loins, the reason for my existence for so many years, for various reasons, have returned to the nest. Oh joy of joys.

The damp towels are breeding. The bedrooms seldom see the light of day before noon. The oonce-oonce is a constant background rumble. The fridge is always empty. The lights are on all the time. The dog is ecstatic. The friends call constantly for entertainment and to help empty the aforementioned fridge. Late nights. Sore heads. These things, you might say are all part and parcel of family life. And you would be right.

But you know what drives me crazy?

The 27 odd socks that I counted today.