Do you remember my old pal, the wonderful 83 year old kerryman who very reluctantly emigrated two years ago to England? It struck me today that I’ve never updated you all on how he’s doing.
Well the short answer is he is still alive and definitely kicking. He and I have kept contact by phone, speaking about once a month. This morning I came home to see a missed call and recognised by the number of digits that he’d phoned. I hurriedly dialed through to my saved messages knowing he’d have left one.
Sure enough there he was. I love to get his messages. They always begin along the lines of ‘Hallo Tric’ in his strong kerry accent, followed by a long pause. What he says afterwards depends on his mood, it varies from, ‘God almighty are you ever at home at all? Here I am talking to myself again‘, to ‘Good to not talk to you’ followed by laughter as he thinks he’s hilarious. On one occasion he was very miffed as he’d missed me a couple of times and I’d not realised he been phoning for about two weeks. This was his mournful message, ‘Sure tis no wonder you’re not answering… I’d say you’ve forgotten all about me… I’ll phone you no more… Love from a foolish kerryman’. On that occasion I rang him back and said, ‘Ah what are you whinging about?’ and he laughed his heart out and said, ‘I knew that would annoy you’.
Today’s message was brief and ended ‘from an old kerryman.’ I rang him back immediately and we’d a great chat. He loves to hear all the local gossip and gets quite nostalgic for ‘home’. Often throughout the conversation I hear him say, ‘God I miss Ireland’, and it’s sad to hear, but the practicality is he is now eighty five and it is better that he lives next to his son.
Even though we are no longer able to meet up, I continue to greatly enjoy our chats. When I ring him he is obsessed with the cost of the call, shoeing me off the phone and I ignoring him, but when he rings me the chat is wonderful, especially if I trigger an old memory of his which moves on into a story. In the early days it was pitiful chatting with him, as he was so unsettled and pining for his old life and friends. However my old pal is a very resilient man who has learned to get by and live reasonably contented, although if I read that back to him I’m sure he’d disagree, loudly.
I will always be grateful he came into my life, but regret it was for so short a time. His eyesight is very poor so we cannot write nor is it any use I sending him photos, but as we reminisce I tell him we will never forget that great last Summer we had, and the stories and craic we shared. Ageing is cruel but as he says regularly, with a sigh for dramatic effect, ‘Ah… that’s life.’