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Would you go back?

What were you like when you were 20? What were your hopes and dreams? Was life good for you, and would you go back?

Tonight I was challenged by Lorna who blogs at Irish farmerette  to reflect on when I was 20, and from the moment I read the prompt I could not shake those memories. Life at 20 for me was one of contrasts.

At twenty I was a student nurse living in the nurses home, hugely enjoying life on the wards and the many friendships I had made. I had bought my own car and was relishing my independence. My social life was busy to say the least, as I discovered that nurses really did know how to party.

At twenty I had a stalker, who was making my life very difficult. A man who followed my every move. A man I told no one about. A man who I feared, and hated in equal measure.

At twenty I had just returned from holidays. There I had met someone unlike anyone I had ever met before. Certainly someone who was not my usual ‘type’. Little did I know that that young fella was going to stick around. He and I would stand the many tests of time. His quiet strength was to make all the difference in my life, at a time when I needed it most.

At twenty my father was unwell. Within months my mom and I would walk into a consultants office on the ward, who would tell us that they had at last diagnosed what was wrong with him. Listening to him, our world would stop. He would tell us that Dad had Motor Neurone disease. There was no treatment, no cure. He would die.

Yes my life at twenty was certainly a life of contrasts. Despite the obvious difficulties I was experiencing, over all I was enjoying some of the greatest days of my life. Young love was blossoming, parties were a plenty, friendships were forged, and my life as a nurse was hugely rewarding.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbushnell/2794421370/">jbushnell</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Other than to have more time with my Dad I would never wish to be twenty again. But all the ups and downs of that year have helped to make me the person I am today. Those many happy days in the midst of sadness, have given me the love of fun, the desire to be happy and the ability to laugh on the darkest of days. Watching my mom, whose world was falling down around her, keep herself going and continue to make our house a fun and happy place to come home to is something I have never forgotten.  Living through those sad, lonely, difficult days made me strong and surviving them has given me the knowledge that regardless of how hard life may seem, I can.

So there you have it Lorna, my reflections on when I was twenty.
Tonight as I type this I am reminded of a famous quote from A tale of two cities. I think it just about sums up my twentieth year perfectly.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

And other than writing this, I am glad to never have to go back there.

photo credit: jbushnell via photopin cc

Remembering you.

You have been gone now for over half my life,
and yet there is rarely a day goes by without me thinking of you.

Sometimes it is to remember something you said,photo credit: Jocey K via photopin cc
or to imagine what you would think of a situation.

Sometimes it is to remember days gone by,
when as a child you were all a Dad should be.

Sometimes it is when I advise my own children,
and I remember it was you who first gave me that advice, many moons ago.

Sometimes it is when I find myself singing ‘The green glens of Antrim’,
and in my minds eye I hear your voice.

Sometimes it is when I look at my children with their Dad,
and I envy them his love.

Sometimes it is for no particular reason,
just the girl in me missing her Dad.

But today I remember you on your birthday.
Happy Birthday Dad, where ever you are.
xxxxxxxxxxxx

 

My Dad died twenty six years ago of motor neurone disease. Before he became ill he regularly bought me freesia for no particular reason, except that  I loved them. Today my mom put some freesia on his grave from me and here I get to give him another little bunch, and a virtual kiss and a hug. xo

photo credit: Jocey K via photopin cc

To us.

Today is the anniversary of the day I got married. We have defied the odds, and have managed to stay married, and even fond of each other, for over twenty years.

I am allergic to writing a mushy post, and there are more than enough posts on this blog where I have laughed at yer man who I married. So instead I will post a link to this song by The Fureys.

It is not perfect, it doesn’t fully explain what he sees in me or vice verse.
It doesn’t tell him what he means to me, nor does it say how I feel about him.
It doesn’t give words to the love I still have for him, nor does it allow you to know how much I have enjoyed our life together.

However there is a line in it which I love, and which says ‘I will always love you’ so perfectly.
For those romantics among you enjoy.

And for yer man here…..

“So, kiss me, my sweet, and so let us part;
And when I grow too old to dream,
That kiss will live in my heart”

photo credit: ohsohappytogether via photopin cc

When the last door closes.

Last night was a night like any other. There was no sign. No warning.
We said ‘Goodnight’ and off she went, with the usual kiss and a hug.
My twelve year old baby, now as tall as myself.

I sat a while longer enjoying the peace, and a glass of wine.
Eventually I called it a day, and climbed the stairs.
And there it was, as I reached the landing…

The closed door.

I’m sure reading this you are not exactly upset.
perhaps puzzling as to what you missed.
What’s my problem, her bedroom door is closed?
Get over it.

However this was so much more than a closed door.
For twenty three years I have climbed my stairs.
and without fail I have entered my sleeping children’s bedrooms,small__8745759743
to whisper a silent goodnight.

When they were young babies I tiptoed in,
to gaze just once more on that tiny being.
To experience once more before I slept, that skip of my heart,
as I inhaled their baby smell and fell in love all over again.

There were nights I opened that door,
holding my breath to hear that they were breathing.
There were nights I opened that door many times,
to a screaming child refusing to sleep.

There were nights I opened that door,
to be met by a child lying wide awake.
Upset after a bad dream, or fretting with a childhood worry,
which a hug and a snuggle gladly given, seemed to cure.

The years have rolled by,
and one by one the doors have closed,
until there was just one left.
But one door open was better than none.

I suppose if I am honest I had seen it coming.
The bedroom toys were gone,
a good night story no longer wanted,
and the light outside the door switched off.

The owner of this door is maturing fast,
and leaving her childhood behind.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/45688888@N08/5915484733/">"PictureYouth"</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
She speaks, looks and acts like a teenager,
but to me, she will forever be my baby.

So perhaps now you can understand,
what that closed door meant to me.
Tonight as I climb the stairs and see that door,
a small part of me will mourn it’s passing.

However as that door closes a whole new world is opening up for my daughter,
an exciting world of independence and freedom,
A world of friends, makeup and boyfriends,
the world of a teenager.

Then out of the blue a thought strikes me,
and I feel ashamed of my sadness.
I think of Daniel and young Ben,
and the bedroom doors their parents face.

I get a grip,
and tearfully I give thanks,
that it was in fact she and not I who closed that door,
and that beyond it my child still sleeps.

photo credit: marioanima via photopin cc
photo credit: bitzcelt via photopin cc
photo credit: ohsohappytogether via photopin cc

photo credit: tanakawho via photopin cc

When suicide strikes we all ask why? Maybe we ask too late?

 

In the wake of Robin Williams suicide many are asking why? Whenever I hear people ask this question, I am reminded of an elderly lady I nursed many years ago and how I learned that not everything is as we may see it.

The lady I speak of was in her eighties. She was admitted with chest pain, confusion, and a number of other medical issues. However it was not her ailments but her story which has remained with me.

She arrived into the geriatric ward the day I began there.  She had a head of white hair with a natural curl, soft skin and a smile which took years off her when she  showed it.  However those first days we rarely saw it, as she lay in bed, back to the door, and showed little interest in what was going on around her.

In the room with her was another lady who was quite unwell. In order to look after her I was in and out of the room many times, and even though I was busy, this lady kept catching my eye.  She rarely moved, despite being fully mobile. She never sat up, turned around, nor showed any interest in what was happening around her. The few times we spoke she barely answered me.

Over the next few days I spent more and more time with her. Slowly she began to unfold, and as she did so her character was revealed. She was one of those patients who would never ask you for anything, believing at all times that you were too busy, and that she would only be bothering you. She was quiet, but once engaged she was so happy to chat. In fact it was this willingness to chat and her wonderful story telling ability that kept me coming back for more, every chance I got.

We spoke about her past, her childhood and her family. However the majority of our conversations were about her early life with the man who would become her husband of almost fifty years. He had passed away two years previously, just short of their fifty year anniversary. At the time I had only recently met my now husband of over twenty years. We were enjoying those early heady days of love, and listening to me sharing my stories, brought this lady back in time to when she was a young girl.  Together we shared many stories which were very similar, just years apart

As her test results began to come back doctors were puzzled. This lady had presented with a lot of medical issues, yet now after a week many seemed to have resolved. They had no idea why.

One morning we were chatting. Her family were coming to visit and she was doing her best to apply makeup and look ‘well’. I was brushing her hair and looking at her in the mirror.  The conversation turned to my boyfriend and I remember I said something along the lines of ‘ ‘I’m  no fool, I’ll keep him chasing’. As I did so she put down her make up and looked at me in the mirror. Then she said,  ‘Don’t play games for too long my dear. I did that for seven years. Seven years I could have been with him, and I regret it every day’.

There was something in the way she said it that made me stop, just for a moment. Then, continuing on I asked, was she very lonely without him? As she began to answer me I watched her face crumble. Tears filled her eyes and spilled over. She never sobbed, just allowed her tears to fall unchecked. I knelt beside her and held her hand as she cried for a little while more.  Watching her cry I realised just how alone and lonely she was.  As quickly as she had begun she stopped, wiped her eyes and I knew she was closing down. I decided to press her, gently, so I asked her ‘Did she ever wish she was with him’ . She nodded, and over the next few minutes it all came out.small_7808465302

Living without her lifelong pal she found life unbearable. She felt a burden on her family, and could no longer find joy in any day. The idea of being with her husband had begun to appeal to her, and over time she had begun to overdose on her medication, hence her admission to hospital.

Listening to her story I was struck by the fact that this lady had lived a lie. She had said all the right things at the right time and had kept up a pretense for her family that she was coping.  I too had been fooled by her, allowing myself to enjoy her stories but never asking the questions that would have allowed her to open up.  Within the hospital she had been treated for her physical symptoms when in fact her real troubles did not need a series of tests to diagnose. What she really needed was someone who would ask her how she was, and take the time to really listen to her reply.

This week ten of our fellow Irish citizens with take their own life, by choice. They will be someones much loved daughter, son, mother, father, uncle or aunt. The methods they chose may vary, the reasons my differ, but the effects on the lives of all those who loved them will be the same. Devastating.

Something has got to change. It is time we all began to look around us, and ask questions. It is time for us to listen to those who are silently screaming, and let them know we are here, they are much loved and we care. It is time to discuss depression, and mental illness openly.

It is time for us all to play our part.
If we change nothing nothing changes. It is time.

photo credit: tanakawho via photopin cc
photo credit: Iqbal Osman1 via photopin cc

When I think of you..

 

When I see your clothes left on the stairs,
hear you giving out about my lost keys,
or I smell the wet towel discarded by you in the bathroom,
I think….. ‘Feck you’.

When I see you empty the dishwasher and then reload it your way,photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sparker/14552552199/">Steve Parker</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
or watch you put the tiniest remnants of a dinner in the fridge,
or go for a cycle in the rain,
I think… ‘You eejit’.

When I see the shower plug unblocked,
the light changed in the bathroom,
and my car washed and hoovered,
I think…. ‘Thank you’.

When I am away from home,
and I do not hear your voice,
nor enjoy the many times you make me laugh each day,

I think….‘I just might be missing you!’

************
I am away for a few days visiting my mom. Yes, the one in the post which made you smile the last day! I am not sure if I will be posting over the next couple of days, but tonight I had time, and would you believe it this was the only post which came to mind. How pathetic am I?
I hope it gets me a few brownie points at least when I go home!

photo credit: Toban B. via photopin cc

Are women in Ireland second class citizens?

As the child of a strong willed, independent mother, I grew up believing that girls were as good as boys. I was also aware that many boys did not agree with me. In an effort to live as an equal in this male dominated world, as a child  I suppressed any girlishness within me. I refused to wear dresses, I cut my hair short and acted as non girly like as I could.

However I was up against it. Despite being good at football the boys on the road did not allow me play most of the time. I could climb trees better than most but again was not allowed do that with the boys. I can still remember the fury I felt some days returning home, having been excluded from a game. ‘I am as good as those boys’  played on a loop inside my head.

As the years moved on I remained extremely sensitive to being discounted from something because I was a girl. I have three girls of my own and have tried over the years to teach them the lessons I learned from my own mother.

So why am I writing this post today? What has prompted my thinking on this?

Well i am writing because I am incensed, furious, and in a way incredulous about something that happened here in Ireland recently. I am also amazed by the fact that most Irish women are unaware of what has happened. So let me explain.

In the high court a judge has removed our right to birth our babies as we wish. He removed our rights to have an opinion. He told us we are not well informed. He told us that the health professionals can make the choice for us, regardless of whether we agree or not. They do not need to have our consent!

Let us put this in perspective. Can you imagine going in for an operation and not having to sign a consent form? The doctor knows best. Would you be happy with that, regardless of how knowledgeable the doctor was?

So why would a judge rule that it is okay during childbirth for a midwife to do what she thinks is right even if you have asked her not to?

This article by Mind the baby explains the situation very well.

I understand that many of you will not read have time to click the link, so as you are here, let me try to explain the situation as best I can.

Recently a case came to the courts in which an Irish woman sued Kerry General Hospital. She claimed that due to a midwife rupturing her membranes against her expressed wishes, she required an emergency caesarian section. As a result of the artificial rupture of membranes, a natural birth had been denied, a life endangering complication had resulted and an invasive operation had been required.

However the judge decided that the midwife was trained, and was entitled to do what she thought best, regardless of the woman’s wishes. In his own words, the judge said ‘

“The midwife was the person entitled, authorised and qualified to make the decision” 

The key point here is that this judge agreed that the midwife did not require the consent of the woman, in order to rupture her membranes. This woman had no voice. Her body was no longer her own responsibility.

I am beyond words. Why are more women not concerned about this? Why are the newspapers not discussing it? This judge is saying lie back, the doctors and nurses will do what’s best for you. If you agree, wonderful, if you do not, tough, as we can do what we think is right regardless. No consent required.

I have no doubt that many who will read the headlines behind this story will believe it to be a group of hippy home birth, or natural birth freaks on a bandwagon, but it is anything but.

This is about the rights of women to be treated with dignity and respect. The rights of a woman to have an opinion, and the rights of ourselves and our daughters to write a birth plan and know it will be taken seriously.

This ruling tells me, that the world has not changed very much from the male dominated world of my childhood days.

**************

Justice Sean Ryan also awarded costs against the family in this case. They are now liable for both their own legal costs and those of the HSE. AIMs has begun a fund to help this family meet the costs. If you want more details you will find it here. AIMS Ireland Womens Support Fund.

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Where do you go?

A group of friends gather together and enjoy conversation, and craic,
Catching up on happenings, we chat and laugh out loud.
It is one of those nights,
Summer holidays are upon us,
and the relaxed atmosphere is evident.

Then mid laugh, with happiness in my heart you catch my eye.
I see you smile.
As the others continue to laugh out loud, I watch you,
and I see that fleeting smile disappear.

I am sitting beside you,
but in that moment I know you are far away.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/definetheline/2650184631/">Michael Mistretta</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
I have watched you leave before,
and once again I wonder where you go?

I recall the conversation we have just had,
and I question what made you leave?
Were we insensitive?
Did we hurt you unknowingly?

The fun continues around you.
Friends oblivious or forgiving of you leaving.
Looking at your face I try to read it.
Are you gone somewhere peaceful,
or are you reliving your nightmare?

I see your expression change once more,
you look pained,
and bite your lip,
then moments later the pain is gone,
and I can no longer read you.

Time ticks by and as it does I hurt for you.
I know in my heart you have left us.
And I know where you are gone.

You are with Daniel.

I wonder are you speaking to him of the holiday you are going on?
Or are you preparing yourself,
for the empty seat,
and the missing blonde head?

Are you remembering your lovely boy,
and all he went through this time last year?
Or are you remembering your lovely boy,
and reliving happy memories of a childhood,
albeit one which was all too brief.

Then as suddenly as you left, you are back.
Your face changes, and you look around,
as if surprised to see us all.
As if two fingers had clicked,
and magically made you appear in our midst.

You quickly comprehend the topic,
and join in as if you never left us.
You listen, laugh, and smile.
as I wonder did anyone else notice your absence?

Seeing you back again,
I continue to wonder where you went?
As I do I realise with a start,
that not all of you has returned.

Then I understood.photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

Last November when you said Goodbye to Daniel,
you did as every mother would,
you parceled up a piece of your heart,
and sent it off with him.

And so it is, that at times like tonight,
with a whisper only you can hear,
he calls your name and you are gone.

To Daniel,
your beautiful boy,
who will always hold a piece of your heart.

photo credit: Michael Mistretta via photopin cc

homeless girl

What do you see when you’re looking at me?

I have been nominated for Best Blog Post in the Irish Blog awards for my post ‘What do you see when you’re looking at me?’.  I am of course thrilled to be nominated and this post is one I am particularly happy with.

For those who do not wish to press the link above, the post is the true story of the day a young girl, with two small children, came into a busy Accident and Emergency department and met a young opinionated nurse (me). That meeting had a profound effect on me, and continues to do so to this day.

If you still don’t want to read it, just trust me it’s winning material, so please go to The Irish Blog Awards site  and vote for ‘My thoughts on a page’.

Your reward will come when I am rich and famous and you can boast ‘She’d be nowhere only for me!’.

Thanks a million for reading.

Just one last add on. This voting lark goes on for a few weeks, and then the final ten are privately voted by real judges (Ahem).  Votes can only be made once a week, so please forgive me if I bother you again next week. If you can help me in any way on facebook or twitter I’d be delighted.

Normal, non begging posting, will resume tomorrow.

 

photo credit: Jeremy Bronson via photopin cc

Some people never grow up.

My mother is in her eighties, and is still capable of great mischief.

Every Summer, up to a couple of years ago my Mom and her best friend Mary, kept foreign language students for a month in their homes. They usually kept two female students each, who ranged in age from 14 to 16 years old. A leader was appointed by the college to supervise their care, accommodation and to deal with any problems.

One particular year my Moms friend got two lovely Italian girls aged fifteen. They were best friends and Mary was mad about them. However the leader that year was very strict and Mary was a bit intimidated by her. This leader put rules in place for everything and constantly checked they were adhering to them. One of these rules was that the girls were not allowed out after 9.30pm.

Now my Mom and her friend are neighbours. Where we live there is a large green across the road from our house, with tennis courts and a playground. It is a mecca for teenagers at night in the Summer and it would not be unusual to see very young children playing there at 9.30pm. My Moms friend thought it most unfair to keep the girls in, so as it was safe, and she could actually see them, she regularly let them out until 10.30 pm.

One night, after 10pm,  my Mom was going into the sitting room to watch the television when she caught sight of Mary’s  two students, in the furthest most corner of the green. Without a thought she picked up the phone and rang her friend.

‘Hello’ Mary answered.photo credit: Jeremy Bronson via photopin cc

‘Ello, ello, my Mom began in a fake foreign accent of no particular country, ees Sophie ome? I speak with her, thank you’.

There was a silence on the other end. Then ‘Oh no, I’m sorry Sophie is having a shower, she’s just gone up this minute’.

‘Shower? Shower? Ees very late for shower’.

‘Yes it is late, oh  my goodness yes it is very late. The water was not hot earlier, so she is only gone for a shower now. Just this minute actually. I don’t know how long she will be’.

‘Okay, okay, zat is okay. I speak with Anna now, thank you’.

‘Anna. You want to speak with Anna?’…. ‘Okay, no problem, can you wait a minute and I’ll get her for you?’.

Then there was silence. My Mom told us she was beside herself laughing at this stage. Looking out the window she could see the long gangly figure that is Mary’s husband racing across the green, arms waving as he shouted for Anna and Sophie.

Meanwhile Moms friend came back on the phone. ‘Hello?’.

‘Yes yes ello, where is Sophie? Ees she ome? Tell truth please’.

Oh yes, yes, she is of course home, but she is speaking with her mother on the telephone and she is just saying goodbye now’.

Silence. My Mom didn’t say a word as she did her best not to laugh. Eventually she saw the two girls go in the gate to their house, and through the phone she could hear whispers.

‘Ello, ello, ello’, she began to roar.  Then she heard my friend say ‘Oh here is Anna now’.

As she did so my Mom burst out laughing. After a moment she heard her friend shout her name in disgust, and she knew the penny had dropped.

Telling us what she had done amused my Mom almost as much as the joke she had played, and I must say we all laughed alongside her, as I marvelled at how much she enjoyed a good laugh.

Yes she may be in her eighties, but she certainly has remained young at heart.