The day of Dad’s Months Mind I sat into his favourite chair in the living room and tears flowed. It was a beautiful morning. The lusciousness of spring was everywhere. I feasted on the view for what felt like the last time. I was gut-wrenchingly sad. The pale pink patterned curtains seemed limp and inappropriate in this decade. I made them myself probably 40 years ago. Maybe he wanted to pull them down years ago but never acted on it for fear of hurting my feelings.

Through the window I saw the white walls with black pier caps where we learned to paint during school holidays. Drips didn’t matter to Dad. He was all about doing. Over the two piers a large whitebeam was in bloom, filling half the window space. It drapes down over the old pump lovingly restored by Dad, a throwback to the village pump days. I remember all these additions and changes. Is that why that day was so difficult? Swallows flitted around catching flies to feed their young. Dad loved nature and would be watching everything. A little sparrow landed on the wall. The farm sheds are white with green rooftops. They were red-roofed when I was a child. My eyes moved to the low round-roofed shed. Phil and I painting it as teenagers. We painted the haybarn too. My heart quickened at the memory. We’d go up the ladder and Dad would have ropes around our waists. We had some experiences in that farmyard. Every summer there would be a building job of some description.

My eyes rested on the shed that was my very first home. The thatch was replaced with galvanise in the 1970s and it now houses meal stores.

Above the shed and to the right four wind turbines turned. These provided endless interest for Dad. He could forecast the weather by how they moved. He knew which one stopped and on what days, when they were serviced and so on. I remember the man we have loved and lost in 2022. It has been hard but our memories are intact and give us comfort. The view from the window that day, last April is preserved in my memory.

Christmas is a tough time to lose someone close. Last week I watched my daughter in law, Aileen, come up the aisle of the church in Courtbrack, her hands on her mother, Martina’s coffin. The loss and grief on her face as her tears flowed freely seared my heart. Martina died suddenly, RIP. Her husband Padraig, her children, Liam, Aileen, Paul and Micheál, along with Martina’s siblings, Philip, her son in law and Aoife her daughter in law, close family, neighbours and friends are devastated. The sudden death has chilled the whole community. Family was everything to Martina. She was proud of her daughter and sons. Community was hugely important to her. She was an organiser, loved music and preserved her memories through many photographs on display in her home. I wished I had time to know her better. My job now is to support Aileen and Philip in the months and years ahead. Christmas will be difficult without John Campion and Martina Sheehan. Yet, we know we can lean on their legacy of love. We also know there are plenty other families who are also lonely this Christmas. Thinking of them means we are not alone in our grief. May they rest in peace.

Meanwhile readers, have a lovely peaceful Christmas wherever you are. Thank you for your support and correspondence. Joyful may not describe your Christmas this year. Nevertheless, be assured that you are not alone. The joy of life will return. Contentment and happiness may be different. Nevertheless, you will be happy again.

She Is Gone

by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone

or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back

or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,

or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,

or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone,

or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,

or you can do what she’d want;

Smile, open your eyes, love and go on

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