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Why are you the way you are?

I have heard it said you are what you eat, (usually by crazies on a diet trying to reassure themselves or convince others to join them) but personally I don’t believe a word of it. Hme and frank on slideowever on occasions, I do wonder why we are the way we are?

Take myself for example, parts of my life have been less than ideal, so why am I not a bitter, tired of life, untrusting character

I’m not sure but I think a lot of the reason why I am the way I am is down to the fact that I have spent the majority of every day, for the past twenty plus years with positive, fun loving individuals who see the good in most things and believe anything is possible.

Wow, you may think, what amazing friends I have.
Who are these individuals? Are they mainly men or women?

Actually they are children.

Take the past few days for example. On Saturday I spent most of the day in the company of forty young swimmers aged eight years to fifteen at an outdoor adventure centre. Before we left they were in such high spirits that just standing near them would make your heart sing. All day we watched as they laughed, screamed and joked together. We smiled at them falling in mud, running wild and lying exhausted in the grass. The day finished with the group enjoying an hour of sliding down a slide into a mud pool, their happiness so contagious myself and a fellow coach joined in, remembering what it feels like to really let go and have fun.On Wednesday I met the same group for the final day before we break for summer. They were high on life, and we had another two hours of great fun. As they left, each thanked us for the swim year gone by, their respect and affection for us as much as ours for them.

I am now enjoying that ‘it’s almost my holidays’ feeling. There are no more 6am sessions until September, no rushing off each evening. Life will be a little less hectic for a while.

As I look back on a great swimming year with many successes as one of their coaches I feel a small sense of achievement, but when I think of this group and the other swimmers I have been lucky enough to have contact with this year I do so with a huge sense of gratitude. These wonderful swimmers have brought so much to my life, their joie de vive has infected me and thanks to them I have begun to view the world as they do.

People are good, anything is possible and every day is there to be enjoyed and lived to the full.

If life is weighing you down, perhaps look at the company you keep?

Photo by Rob Lamb. http://www.roblambphoto.com

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At last.

Some of you may remember the story of Lucy aged 9, who was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, and the fight her mother had to get her a medical card in order to pay for the added drugs necessary to keep her alive.  At a time when Lucy was very sick and life so uncertain, it was incredible to hear her mother on radio and in newspapers championing the cause of sick children. At the time I called her ‘A mother in a million”.

I stand by that title, because from today July 1st 2015 every child in Ireland diagnosed with cancer, will receive a medical card. Because of Lucy and the tenacity, strength and determination of her mother, parents who are going through hell at the moment, will get the help they need. Parents, who do not know yet what faces them in the future will thankfully have one less worry when that awful news comes.

Thank you again Angela. It is not many who will go through life and make such a difference to so many.

I know many of you who follow my blog live outside Ireland, so I thought you’d be interested in this update today.

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Today we remembered Ben.

There is little in life so tragic as the loss of a child. For the parents it is a nightmare from which they can never wake up,  for siblings it is an immeasurable loss, for the extended family a burden they too will always carry.

Yet the ripples from the loss of a child are widespread, affecting the whole community.

When I heard young Ben had been taken ill, it was a number of days before we realised how sick he was. When the news filtered through he was not going to make it, I can remember sitting holding my youngest in my arms as she cried uncontrollably, thinking of small Ben, his parents and her close friend, his sister.

In the wake of such a devastating loss there is a sense of helplessness within the community. We see his family, and we try to imagine their pain, but there is very little anyone can do to make it any easier. Grief is a long and lonely road and regardless of help and companionship, it is a road they mostly travel alone.

Yet even though at times they may think in their grief we have all forgotten them, we do not. Today in my communtity we proved just that.

Young Ben was only in school a little over a year when he passed away, leaving schoolfriends too young to understand photo (52) where he had gone and a school in shock. In recent weeks the school have had great plans to remember Ben, and also to remember another young boy, Eoin, who also passed away ten years previously. Today we all got to see the results of their thinking. A beautiful garden for Ben and Eoin.

As you can see it is in the shape of a circle. Each paving slab is imprinted with the handprints of those young schoolfriends who were in Ben’s class. The paving slab next to Ben’s plaque has the handprints of his sister and the one next to Eoins has those of his twin brothers. The circle shape means both Ben and Eoin are surrounded by friends. The wall behind was painted white and decorated with butterflies. The butterflies were painted by their classmates and Bens sister and Eoin’s brothers. Sitting beneath the trees it is hard to believe you are in a school, as it is such a peaceful spot.

It is only right to remember small Ben and Eoin in the surroundings where they were once so happy. Ben loved school, and today his school welcomed him back once more. The communtiy has spoken, the boys have not been forgotten. As Fr Charlie blessed the garden he gave a mention to young Daniel who also attended this school before leaving for secondary. As I sit in this garden I have no doubt he and I will have a few chats.

When the singing and speaking was over there was a final reflection read out. I think it was perfect. It is called the Unfinished. I cannot find an author so if anyone knows let me know.

The Unfinished.

We cannot judge a biography by its length,
Nor by the number of pages in it.
We must Judge it by the richness of its contents
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant.

We cannot judge a song by it’s duration
Nor by the number of it’s notes
We must Judge it by the way it touches and lifts our souls
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful.

And when something has enriched your life
And when it’s melody lingers on in your heart
Is it unfinished? Or is it endless?

******

I think it is only fitting to say a big thank you to Ballygarvan Concrete. When they heard what the paving slabs were being used for they waived all costs. They were also very patient with thirty young boys and girls, as they made the slabs and put their handprints on them.

Ballygavan Pavillion garden centre provided the plants at cost.

Finally a big thank you to all who organised and worked on this within the school. I know you spent many hours on it. Well done.

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An update on ‘good people’.

If you are rushing I’ll make it quick… With a little over three hours still to go, Pa Curran has made his deadline for fundit. Thank you all so much. (If you want to know what I’m talking about I wrote a post yesterday called ‘Good people deserve good things’

To Pa Curran I say congratulations. You richly deserve this. I hope it shows you the depth of appreciation so many have for what you did last year for the families giving and receiving organs, even people such as myself who do not know you personally.

I’m sure your buddy Taidgh is celebrating alongside you.

Comhgairdeas.

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Good people deserve good things. Please help.

I’d rarely ask for anything like this, but there is only twenty four hours left.
Some of you may remember a post I did last year about an amazing man called Pa Curran who lost his best friend in an accident. His friends organs were donated and as Pa heard the helicopter fly away, carrying his friends heart, the words of a song came to him and so the song ‘Unintentiona hero’ was born.

Last year he used that song to promote organ donation. Thirty families gathered and an emotional video was made to promote organ donation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl4cozAHNdk

Recently Pa posted online that he is trying to get funding to make an album. He is not looking for donations, instead, for your donation, depending on amount, you will receive anything from a signed single for €5 to a solo gig in your house for €200. There is only today left in his campaign. He is 66% there but if he doesn’t make it he loses all that has already been pledged.

All details here

I don’t know Pa personally, but small Ben was one of the little ones who were Unintentional heroes. The kindness shown to them by Pa Curran was exceptional. He deserves to have his dreams come true, for as I said before, good people deserve good things.

If you are not in a position to help please consider sharing on facebook or twitter. He has only twenty four hours from today Sunday June 28th left…

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On to her next adventure.

Last night I didn’t make a holy show of myself. I didn’t die of a broken heart nor did I embarrass myself in any way, but rest assured I felt like it.

For last night my husband and I walked our youngest in the door of her primary school for her graduation. Our final graduation ceremony. The link between our family and this wonderful school was to be broken after nineteen years.

As we walked along I saw us from a distance, he a little more grey, me fitting the part of an older mother, and she, with a bounce in her step, taller than myself, itching to begin the night. I tightened my grip on her hand as I thought, ‘it’s finally here’.

Of course this time of new beginnings is a thing to celebrate. Our beautiful, youngest daughter moving on to start a new and exciting chapter in her life. However this was also an ending. Eight years before this child of ours had held our hands and entered this school. It had taught her all it should, but it had also nourished her, supported her in hard times, celebrated her successes, and encouraged her to be proud of who she is. It had been a very important part of her childhood, a part she had now outgrown.

During the night I watched my confident child mix with her friends, sing a duet, dance with her dad, laugh with myself. There was just one moment as her year sang Hannah Montana’s song ‘I’ll always rememeber you’ where I felt the tears sting. Biting my tongue and fighting hard I managed to ignore the cries in my heart, but not before my little one had spotted my weakness. I watched as her smile faded and for a moment she heard and felt the words she was singing, but a wink and a thumbs up from me, and she too managed to give those thoughts the push.

At a late hour we bid our goodbyes and left the school. I didn’t think about all we were saying goodbye to, nor the fact that we would never again be attending one of our children’s nights in this school, instead I listened to the chattering of my baby and felt her delight. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/28025071@N06/6239875115"></a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

I’ll wait until Tuesday to let my tears flow, for that is the day himself and myself will gather to watch our youngest and her pals walk through the guard of honour and out of junior school forever. I can’t promise I’ll not make a holy show of myself, but I’ll try not to at least.

Here are the lyrics for ‘I’ll always remember you’. I think you’ll agree they were very apt for the night that was in it.

“I’ll Always Remember You”

I always knew this day would come
We’d be standing one by one
With our future in our hands
So many dreams so many plans

I always knew after all these years
There’d be laughter there’d be tears
But never thought that I’d walk away
With so much joy but so much pain
And it’s so hard to say goodbye

But yesterday’s gone we gotta keep moving on
I’m so thankful for the moments so glad I got to know ya
The times that we had I’ll keep like a photograph
And hold you in my heart forever
I’ll always remember you

Nanananana

Another chapter in the book cant go back but you can look
And there we are on every page
Memories I’ll always save
Up ahead only open doors
Who knows what we’re heading towards
I wish you love I wish you luck
For you the world just opens up
But it’s so hard to say goodbye

Yesterday’s gone we gotta keep moving on
I’m so thankful for the moments so glad I got to know ya
The times that we had I’ll keep like a photograph
And hold you in my heart forever
I’ll always remember you

photo credit: GlacierTim via photopin cc
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There comes a time…

There comes a time…
when we realise our once tiny babies have outgrown their newborn clothes. With regret we set them aside, and marvel at how quickly they’ve grown.

There comes a time…
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when we watch our little ones take their last feed, breast or bottle, and we begin to understand the tug to our hearts that is parenting.

There comes a time…
when we must bid the cot goodbye, and with mixed emotions kiss our child goodnight for the first time in a big bed.

There comes a time..
when we buy their first school bag and with an aching heart leave them in someone elses care, as their school days begin.

There comes a time…

when there is no rush to welcome you home, no bed time story to be read, no night time visitor to your bed.

There comes a time…
when school days end, and we find ourselves sitting at a graduation, wondering at the tall confident student who barely looks in our direction.

There comes a time…

when our children spread their wings and fly the nest, leaving us with the echoes of parenting ringing in our ears.photo credit: he-sk via photopin cc

Today I looked around our garden at the empty swing, and heard the many rows of bygone days. I stepped back in time to listen to the squeals of delight as little ones slid down the slide, and turning, my gaze lingered on the climbing frame, as I pictured, clear as day, happy faces perched on top.

My husband was also in the garden obviously not hearing or seeing all that I did. Innocently he asked, “Do you think we should get rid of the swing and climbing frame?”
Without hesitation I replied,

“No…now is not the time”.

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photo credit: Peter Werkman (www.peterwerkman.nl) via photopin cc

Missing you.

It’s twenty eight years since I hugged my dad.
Twenty eight years since I saw his face, held his hand or kissed him.
Twenty eight years since we said goodbye,

But only moments since I last missed him.

June 21st is Fathers day here in Ireland.
Happy Fathers day dad. xxx

As is now traditional on my blog at this time I’ll post this link to The fureys. As I listen to it I’ll no doubt shed a few tears, because even after twenty eight years ‘I miss him my aul man’

John Mcdermott – The Old Man Lyrics
The tears have all been shed now
We’ve said our last good-bye
His soul’s been blessed and he’s laid to rest
And it’s now I feel alone

He was more than just a fatherphoto credit: Peter Werkman (www.peterwerkman.nl) via photopin cc
A teacher my best friend
He can still be heard in the tunes we shared
When we play them on our own

[Chorus:]

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him… The old man

As a boy he’d take me walking
By mountain field and stream
And he showed me things not known to kings
And secret between him and me.

Like the colors of the pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the holly tree

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him… The Old Man

I thought he’d live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly and the years roll by
For a father and his son

And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance to tell him thanks
For everything he’s done

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him… The Old Man

photo credit: Peter Werkman (www.peterwerkman.nl) via photopin cc

photo credit: UnWired via photopin (license)

The feckin not so time saving merits of the internet!

Where would we be without the internet? Remember when we had to find and then look up an encylopedia if we wanted to know something? When we had to write letters to our family and friends when we were away from home? When we read actual books as opposed to kindle and the like, and when our choice of clothes were what ever was in our local shops?

How life has changed, with it’s online conversations, friends and even dating. Recently I decided to use this wonderful time and money saving invention to book my family a summer holiday. I smiled as I opened my laptop, no standing in a travel agent queue, waiting as she tapped away at a computer before giving me a couple of choices as to where I’ll be going and then breaking it to me how much it would cost. No I’d have choice and I’d save myself a fortune.

Yes it all sounds so wonderful, but you know what… fast forward three weeks and I can tell you it’s not really that feckin great!

For three weeks I trawled, searched, the internet. How fussy are we? Well not at all actually.

Our request was simple, a resort we could fly to from Cork. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/46423105@N03/4271149672">Air New Zealand Boeing 747-475; ZK-SUH@LAX;18.04.2007/463mo</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

Easy google a couple of airlines and see where they are flying to, put in dates, and number of passengers and hey presto see what is affordable. Yep how easy is that?

The reality… hours online googling flights by ryanair, aer lingus etc, trying to remember what the different flights cost. Mmmm not great prices so try changeing the dates to see if that would make any difference to cost. Excitedly discover two very cheap dates only to realise that would mean we were going on holiday for all of twenty four hours! Re enter dates and eventually hours later forget all I have googled so leave until the following day, after I buy a special holiday notebook to document everything.

Finally weeks later, after a total time of close to a million hours online my holiday is booked. I triumphantly told my gang it was done and they gathered to view where we were going.

Unfortunately I could only show them the airport, as I’ve only booked the flights. Here’s hoping after another couple of weeks we’ll make it past the airport.

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photo credit: Air New Zealand Boeing 747-475; ZK-SUH@LAX;18.04.2007/463mo via photopin (license)

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Finding time.

Can you hear me sigh? Sitting here writing once more is like returning home after a busy day, sinking into a comfy chair and feeling my shoulders slowly begin to relax.

How I have missed writing, reading and interacting with a world most who know me are unaware of.

In two years I’ve only missed writing here if I were on holidays, but recently life just went a bit mad in the busy, not tragic way thankfully, leaving me no time at all to write. Well I say no time to write, which is not strictly true, I continued to write regularly in the blog inside my mind. I chatted and shared daily with you all, I wrote stories, some entertaining, some quite deep, all forgotten the following day! On occasions something would remind me of some of you and I would wonder how you were, or I’d find myself laughing or remembering a post I’d read weeks ago.

For in truth although I was not online, or writing, I never stopped blogging. I don’t believe I can.

I’m happy to say all is good in my world, but tonight as I write the families of those who lost their children in Berkeley are not far from my thoughts. This time last year my beautiful eldest daughter along with thousands of other Irish students, made their way to the USA for a Summer of new experiences. Late August she came home, and she has continued to be a bright light in our house. For six parents there will be no home coming. For those who are injured life is changed forever. Today Ireland is collectively mourning their loss.

Tonight with this tragedy in mind I will hold my children close, take the time to tell them I love them, and as I go to sleep remember those who have lost their future.

Life comes with no guarantees, it’s important to appreciate it while we have it, and find the time to enjoy it.

It’s good to be back.

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