family history

 

There’s a perfect new life next door.

I searched her sleeping face for my own baby but this is another mix and, though my genes are there, she carries the line of three other grandparents – and all the generations before them.

My link to the Irish farmers of my father’s blood feels so strong and completely denies the maternal half of my father, not to mention the ancestors on my mother’s side. How diluted then is the pull to Omagh for this little one? I like to think she is safely watched but do they actually fight above the crib in the dark? All those accents of her past…

we’re on again

 

I woke up and it was 2016. I felt quite different from on new years’ days past…reflective, introspective. Like I was floating, and yet like I could make some sense of it all. I could sort this thing out – life etc.

I determined to map my year that day –  this year would truly be a New year. I asked the assembled siblings ‘the hard question’. I’m sure they were stunned by the fact that I even spoke!, that I initiated conversation, threw a topic out there…

What is something you will do this year that you haven’t done before?

And then before even half the first day was done, the earth spun me off my axis…I hadn’t come up with my own answer when the phone rang and my holiday was over. Home alone now, administering antibiotics and pain killers to the bruised and battered big cat.  Plans unmade, commitment to self maybe a good place to start…

I woke up and it’s the third of January – the year will zip by unmarked. Dishes to be washed, garbage to put out. My head full of the every day. The cat’s high as a kite.

and in other news this week

My next door neighbour died. 

Think about the street you live in. You moved here, what, just over twenty years ago? (That’s too long! Move on!) How many houses in the street? About forty, row houses, I’ve never counted in all this time… A handful of neighbours pre-date you, another handful rolled in around the same time as you. You’re all bunched up, up this end of the street – the houses surrounding you, and across from you, full of the familiar but not actual friends. Down the other end, especially on this side, they come and go. You wouldn’t know them if you tripped over them. 

The ones you know by name – the nodders, the hellos, the little bits of family history divulged…if you’d had to write it on a scrap of paper and slide that into a time capsule way back when you arrived hers was not the name you’d have penned! She was not who you’d expect to go first! (Ok not technically first but those already gone, those four, were all old and infirm). First of us, our age group, inconceivable. 

I spoke to her husband on the weekend. He’s not a nice man, I have to be honest, but I heard love, pain, such grief in his voice. I took the dead flowers away. 

the ghost of summers past

 

I don’t love summer anymore.

Summer brings out the inner city kids, and their silliness. Drunken voices on their way home from the pub, or just hanging out in the street, make my veins flow with fear.

I hear my son in every group. The difficult years rush back at me. The time before the silence.

When I was younger I lay in the sun and swam for days. Jasmine, fresh cut grass, suntan lotion – smells of summer smiles. By day the box of mangoes on the kitchen table never seemed to empty, and father at the bbq by the pool in the evening.

Summer’s not my season anymore. I keep my balcony doors closed, and increase the volume until the tv’s rhubarb is louder than…