I know that last week’s column was a tough read, even for me seeing it in print. My family have added pressure because I write this column. I’m sure there are days when they wish that I was not so giving of our lives.

The truth is that we are not alone. Every family meets a crisis or several of them as they navigate through life. Families fall out for reasons that they can’t remember. People die unexpectedly, accidents happen. Loved ones get sick and people have to watch them struggling. It takes its toll on everyone involved.

That’s why it’s so important to live the good days well. That means thinking about them, spending time together when we can and looking after ourselves so that we can endure.

I have to rest during the first week after chemotherapy – it kills me. The second one, I’m coming back and the third one, I’m myself again. I worked outside the home for a lot of years and spent the time away from my family. I’m trying to compartmentalise my treatment into that kind of zone where I accept it as part of my life. It is not easy. I will not succeed unless I can manage my head around this. I know that means that I can’t be resentful and I must learn to cope well. The prize could just be wellness down the line. Meanwhile, life goes on.

I turned 65 a few weeks back. Tim just announced one day: “The lads want to have a party.” At first, I was taken aback. “A party, why?” I sighed inwardly. I started to think about it. We’ve always found reasons to have a party. Sometimes, they were little reasons, even excuses when someone hit a milestone or we overcame an obstacle.


I remember loading the small lads and Julie up one day and packing up a picnic lunch for the men that were harvesting barley. Tim was on the red Massey Ferguson combine harvester. Tim’s Dad, Denis was drawing the grain with his red and yellow lorry. Philip was about four. That would have made Diarmuid five and Colm two and a half. Julie was probably eight.

We had such fun that day in the field, having our lunch on a blanket. The boys frolicked and tumbled around the place. Grandad drank tea with his cap turned backwards. Julie sat on Tim’s knee. They were magic times and they were the seeds for seizing the moment to be together and have a little party. That lovely memory stopped me protesting. Instead, I let them at it.

The Village Deli

There is a lovely daytime café nestled within Ravenscourt Garden Centre just a mile down the road called The Village Deli & Café. It is run by chef Bryan Phelan. Bryan has worked in some of Cork’s busiest restaurants including Holy Smoke, Rachel Allen’s restaurant and The Sharp Knife, a catering company that specialises in authentic street food.

The mix of flavours for the lunch specials are always of gourmet standard and very different to anywhere else. A chicken and stuffing wrap will be accompanied by a dip that will change it into something original and yummy. It’s a really easy and relaxed atmosphere with no airs and graces, just good food and service.

That lovely memory stopped me protesting. Instead, I let them at it.

Colm approached Bryan with the idea for a party for the mother! They struck their deal of wine and platters of scrumptious food, teas and coffees, a delectable cake and treats. Hot food delights arrived intermittently, such as tasty duck legs in finger-licking sauce, cod goujons with big chips, giant sausage rolls and all sorts of gorgeous stuff. The evening was balmy.

The party ran from 6pm to 10pm. The staff were amazing. We took pictures and I was the centre of attention. I felt loved and cherished. There was no need for drama. Everyone in the room was part of my support group willing me well and available to help me at a moment’s notice. That is very special indeed.

Whatever the black cloud, we can get out from under it. It might take a bit of work but it is bloody worth it. I had a great evening.

Thank you family.