You may not know it, but Ireland is a little quieter today. There is a little less noise, a little less banter, and a lot less laughter. For today, my pal and I, said a fond farewell to our Thursday morning buddy, Denis, who at 83 is leaving Ireland for a new life in England.
His son arrived on Saturday night, and a van was loaded up with all he wished to take with him. I called a couple of times over the weekend, and then this morning it was time for our final meeting. It was, as always, largely filled with humour, but today our pal was obviously distracted. His time remaining was ticking by very loudly, and he said he’d found sleep hard to come by last night. Eventually we could put it off no longer. My friend was to say her goodbyes first. I turned away, as it was difficult to watch. He had a real grá for her, and vice verse. They shared their final hug and she tearfully drove away.
However for me there was to be a bit more time. It had been decided that I would accompany Denis and his son to the bank, so happily I got a reprieve, a stay of execution.
On our return I decided to be strong, no more tea, no more chat, I would not go in to the house. It was time.
We stood beside the car and I spoke to his son advising him I was going to head away home. He shook my hand and thanked me for,
sitting chatting, drinking tea and enjoying a morning of storytelling every Thursday, looking after his dad. I couldn’t stop my tears, and without realising what I was saying, I embraced him and said, quite threateningly, ‘You had better look after him‘. He laughed and assured me he would. Then kindly he said, ‘I’ll leave you two to say your Goodbyes’.
I turned to my pal, standing tall, with two sticks for support, and tears falling down his face. ‘Ah dear, he said, I can’t believe it has come to this’. I as good as ran to him and hugged him close. ‘I’ll miss you’, I said, ‘now you behave yourself over there, and enjoy your family!’. We straightened ourselves and smiled at each other. ‘Bye Denis’, I said and I kissed his cheek one last time.
He stayed at the gate as he always does, waiting as I turned my car, to wave me off. As I passed by I pulled over one last time, and wiping my tears I laughed and said, ‘For Gods sake Denis, you’re still making women cry at your age’. He threw back his head and laughed his lovely hearty laugh, his eyes twinkling as always. He blew me a kiss and shouted ‘Love ye’, to which I replied, ‘And I you’, as I drove away, oblivious to the road ahead, so busy was I looking in the mirror behind me.
So my friends he is gone. Our loss is his families gain. For there is indeed another side to this story. Denis was beginning to fall over occasionally. He lived alone and at his age life was not going to get any easier. His son had explained to us that his family in England all live beside one another, and there was also the fact that there were three very excited great grandchildren counting the days for the arrival of their great grandfather.
As I write this, I acknowledge that indeed yes today I am sad, and lonely for Denis, but I am also smiling. For I have no doubt he has a wonderful new life ahead of him, surrounded by family, and maybe even new friends, but most especially, there are three young children who are about to get the best Christmas present they will ever receive…. their great grandfather.
Photo credit…. Me and Peggy! Yes for one post only there is a real photo of me, and my friend Peggy, and our dear pal Denis.