For My Dad


You are gone
But your shadow reaches far
Giving off a warmth
To let us know – there you are!

In life
You put love into the air
But now
The world is much darker
Without you there

My life seems empty
On such a sad day
But thinking of you,
the man that you were
Chases the pain away

Missing and loving my dad on this painful anniversary. Always want to write about him and for him. Poems are just glimpses of how much I miss this man. Im away to visit his grave and think. My thoughts are with all my brothers and sisters who go through the same pain I do cos he is not here. Sending love to them all and my Aunties and cousins who have their own memories of this special man. Wee bit devastated today.

dad photo

A Personal Grief

A Personal Grief

This feels a little like going to confession:
It has been 18 years since I saw him alive last. Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death but for some reason it has hit me today at just how long it has been since I last saw my dad alive. 18 years since we talked, 18 years since I got a hug from him. When my dad died I spent a lot of time angry. I was angry at my mum – she sent me home the night before he died because she was angry at someone else but taking it out on me. I was angry at god (a god I never believed in) for taking him. I was angry with myself – for not telling him I loved him; he and I shared a look in those last moments before I went home, a look where no words were uttered but a million things were said. I was angry at everything and everyone. I spent a lot of time carrying around the hurt and pain I was going through. I never had many friends so I didn’t have people around me to talk to about him. My family were all dealing with their own personal pain so I just shoved mine down deep. I buried it so deep into myself that for a while I forgot it was there.
Even when my mum got ill I managed to compartmentalise all of my feelings so that I was able to cope with the magnitude of losing another parent. My mum and me were always at loggerheads but when she got ill I was pregnant with my fourth child so I did not manage to help in the care of her but instead was a comfort to her by making her laugh (sorry for the hurt I inadvertently caused anyone if you were the subject of a joke). We kept each other company and talked about life as it was happening, we spent a lot of time laughing and joking. I don’t think I was emotionally ready for any huge heart to hearts. I felt that I had come to terms with my mum’s health decisions and respected how she wanted to do things. That is not to say I would have made the same decisions she did. Over the course of my pregnancy and her illness we became closer than we had ever been. I appreciated her opinion and she was visibly chuffed when I told her how much she meant to me and my kids. Although I was never ready to lose her as a parent we had resolved all of our earlier differences, we had become close and I did not have the regrets that I had held onto when my dad passed.
My dad’s illness was much more dramatic and fast. He went downhill quickly and no one was really aware of how bad things were. We were reeling from the cancer diagnosis but I do not think anyone had recovered from that shock when he died. I cannot speak for everyone but I was left with a huge sense of things unsaid. A huge gaping chasm had appeared in my life. I was in my second year at university but did not have the strength to speak to my tutors and let them know what was happening. My grades suffered and I walked around in a daze of incomprehension. I was lost on so many levels that I don’t know how I made it back to a normal life. I think the fact that I had two young daughters that needed me to be strong was the only reason I had to keep going.
More recently though I have had a strong sense of feelings re-emerging. I feel like circumstances have left me a little more vulnerable in life. I am the parent of five kids and now have three grandchildren but this last year has been one of huge upheaval and there were many shocks along the way. I have been exhausted due to many sleepless nights and worry about loved ones. I have been emotionally on the edge and have no idea how I managed to keep going to work, looking after everyone and even getting out of bed. There were many days this year that I awoke and thought maybe if I just close my eyes and pull up the bedclothes that everything will go away.
As a direct result of this my mental health was affected in ways that no one would ever realise by looking at me. I had pushed my feelings away for so long that the cracks were beginning to show. I was crying for no reason at home on my own. I would be inconsolable at night when all my kids were sleeping. I would wake up bleary eyed, blotchy and swollen from crying so much. I was eating everything in my way, I was eating late at night trying to fill the void in my life. For me boredom is dangerous as I start to self-destruct. I did not have the concentration span to read, music did not have its usual anti-depressive effect on me. I let things slip by the wayside and just concentrated on doing as little as possible to get me through the day. I have been scared to let all of my feelings out in case it was all too much and I wouldn’t be able to function anymore.
There has been a catalyst in the last few months that have brought all these feelings to the fore. I have been looking into my family history and especially my dad’s side of the family. I have been trying to understand the people who shaped my life and in turn the people who shaped theirs. I have been trying to spend my time with my aunts. Not just because they are all wonderful, interesting and fantastic people but also because they are the key to who my father really was. I was devastated though at the loss of one of my aunts just before Christmas. I went to visit her before she died and was blown away by how beautiful, serene and glowing she looked. The feeling of love in the room was overwhelming. I gave her a hug before I left and she gripped onto my hand and looked at me and I told her I loved her and there was a huge feeling of connection that washed over me. If I could allow myself to believe it (I have been a sceptic on such matters forever) I would have said that my dad was in the room. I gave my other aunts a hug and went home feeling like a weight had been lifted.
On returning to my house I felt like I had a mini breakdown. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt like I had gone through some sort of epiphany and needed some focus for my grief. Since then I have felt comfort in a few places. At my aunts rosary service I felt like I was closer to something bigger than me. The words in the prayers actually gave me comfort. At the funeral for my aunt I loved the tone of the service and the fact it was all about love and the growth of love. In my aunts presence I only ever felt feelings of love. I have a huge family but I never felt like I wasn’t equally loved by this woman. I know I am probably giving these happenings much more importance than they really need but for me I felt like the world was telling me something. I have felt compelled to sit in the chapel but not for any religious sustenance but because it is a place for reflection. The chapel holds lots of memories of my mum and dad and us as a family doing something together.
It is now days later and I still feel the warmth from that initial connection. I still feel surrounded by love, a familial comforting love. I think the connection for me was a family circle being completed. I think somewhere in the ethos my dad heard the words I said out loud to my aunt and I feel at peace with her and with him. I am going to go visit his grave tomorrow. I feel that it is long overdue.

Boxing Day

I got up extra late today and it was a refreshing change from the normal early morning wake up call from my weans and grandweans. We were all up late last night so it was brilliant that we all managed to syncronise our sleep patterns and we all slept in. What a rare treat it was. It was especially good since I had sat up till about four – talking to my sister in America and writing a little. I still need to get a handle on my sleep these days. I have reverted back to the four hours sleep a night business at a time when I really need to ensure we are all getting more sleep.

Today was even more exceptionally poignant for the reason that my kids all got along. There was none of the stress about fighting over toys and games because each kid now has some sort of electrical gadget that means they can all play games at the same time. What bliss!!!! This does not mean that we were all engrossed in various electrical contraptions but that when kids wanted to there wasnt any fights over them. We spent all afternoon in the kitchen watching my eldest son build one of his lego sets as the rest of us chatted and laughed. I was also given my favourite gift when my sister Frances gave me one of her artworks. I am in awe of the talent my sister has so I was thrilled and emotional when she handed me my present, it was also the picture that I had secretly coveted from afar. I am going to have to find some very special place for it – where it can be looked at without kids getting their grubby hands on it. I absolutely love it.

I am revelling in the wee times during the day when I steal a few moments to myself to write or read a little. I have not carved out so much time for myself lately so it is a major breakthrough that I am forcing some space in every day for myself. When did that happen?It has been a long time coming but what a refreshing change of of events that I am able to put myself first even if it is only for a small section of my day. My kids are all sound asleep and the house is as quiet as it is ever going to be so I like to chill, hide in my room and indulge my passions of reading, listening to music and spending time with my own thoughts. It is times like these that keep my head in a good place, these times let me reccuperate from whatever challenges my day has brought. I found myself today smiling and watching my kids getting along, listening to their little jokes and noticing their characteristics that make them unique and being happy for what I have here and now. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by all these amazing people who I love very much. What a joy it is to get to spend time with them all.

I do not have any plans for New Years eve and for me that is fine. My new year will be determined by me and how I decide to get involved in my own life. I do not look for external gratification, I dont care much for superficial things – what is important to me is being able to grow and learn about myself, about life, about the universe. I have such a huge capacity to engage with learning and trying to glean some meaning from every adventure that comes my way and I just want to continue next year with learning about everything. I have a birthday comng up soon and I am looking forward to acknowledging that. I am trying to think of a treat that will mark this in some way. I will let you know when I think of something. It is now time to get myself off to bed. I dont think I will be so lucky as to have two days in a row when my kids and grandkids all get on so well so I am awy to recharge and get ready for tomorrow.


All was quiet

Well all the fuss is over, the stress, the fretting over what to buy, the slaving over the stove, the cleaning up – after my hoardes of children have opened their pressies and discarded all the packaging in their wake. Months of self inflicted worry added to the stress of scrimping and saving to ensure my kids got something they wanted for christmas. It is all over now and it is with mixed emotions that I say I am glad it is finished for another year. I am pleased that the stressful part is over but there is a wee part of me that will miss the expectation of all those wee faces looking forward to see what Santa had left for them. My grandkids being here added an unexpected flash of joy to my day. My three youngest kids all seemed to be very pleased with their presents and it is one of the first christmases when I felt like I had done a good job. My youngest daughter was also a huge help in preparation for the day so I have her to be thankful for.

I have spent the last few minutes sending private messages to one or two people who I have really missed over christmas. I need to try and make more of an effort to keep in touch with everyone as I dont want to lose contact with my family memebers again. The recent events in the news make it even more important that I continue to talk or write to my brothers, sisters and extended family and friends more. In the wee small hours like now I tend to reflect on those folk that are missing from my life at the moment. I am talking specifically about my mum and dad and also few close family members that died during the last year. It has been an emotional roller-coaster in a number of ways. Christmas more than any other time makes me nostalgic and what better time to reconnect and touch lives that have been gravitating away from me now that mum and dad are not here to keep us all together. I will get keep in touch with everyone if it kills me.

I am writing again and once again I am feeling like myself. I am living in a creative space in my head at the moment and I just need to harness all that energy and make it amount to something. My sister and I have been chatting about projects and plans and it has been fantastic having someone to discuss matters of imagination and inspiration. My kids all recieved gifts that have some form of creative output for them. It means a lot ot me that my kids get a chance to express themselves in whatever way they want to. My youngest daughter has taken up knitting and other crafts so i am extremely interested to see what path she takes. She also wanted to paint me a picture for my living room wall and I cannot wait for her to produce a masterpiece to brighten every time I walk into that room.

I have spent a few days going over old photos of my kids and looking back at how I have progressed over the years. Although sometimes I feel like in money terms we have went backwards and we do not seem to have progressed in the lifestyle we have – I also can see how we have all developed as people. My kids are a source of immense joy in my life and I can only hope that they make their way in life in a way that fulfills them. For myself, I can see that i am still chasing challenges and setting myself goals and reaching for the moon and I cannot berate myself for that. I am still hopeful. I do not know where that hope comes from but I seem to have it in spades. Maybe one day my endeavours will catch up with that hope and I will change all our lives for the better.

Good Tidings

It has been a slow start to the week. Had to say goodbye to one of my favourite aunties this week. It is always lovely to be in the company of my extended family but it was such sad circumstances that brought us together. I will miss my Auntie very much. I have enjoyed reconnecting with cousins and even sisters that I dont get to see very often.

I have been having a discussion with my sons school in an effort to get them to give him some academic support and to try and encourage him to stay on at school. They have managed to change his mind and have been helping to keep him interested. I have been struggling financially since my daughter and her kids have moved in with us even though things are calming down now – my bills doubled and it took me a while to get back into the swing of things. The school did a wonderful thing for my son. They sent him shopping with a couple of staff members and bought him a suit, shirt, tie and shoes and bought him a ticket to the school ball. I have never seen my son as excited as he was today. He danced his way out the front door and it was fantastic to see him getting such a boost. I had been beating myself up that I let him down but the school helped to put a smile on his face and for that I will be forever thankful.

I have been super-emotional this week for many reasons (mostly the funeral and my son) and I have just felt like my feelings were on my sleeve and I was in doubt as to whether I could hold it together. I had a couple of nights to myself, writing in my journal and sorting out my thoughts and it has helped immensely. I had another bit of good news in that our christmas might not be such a washout. I am looking forward to having time off with my kids and time off work. I have a challenge to find some games and activities to keep them all busy. I am looking forward to my home cooked turkey dinner and having a laugh with everyone. It has been a few years since I felt this positive going into a christmas period. I already have a few good things happening in the pipeline for next year so hopefully it will be a better year for me and mine. Starting to get renewed faith in a lot of things at the moment.

Tales from the couch – a new beginning

Well people things have certainly been challenging over the last few weeks. The couch tales lasted almost six weeks with me having to camp out in my living room. But hooray, the bed situation has been rectified for the moment. I am back in the world of the sleeping. I spent the first two nights back in my bed just rolling from one side to the other in a frenzy of reacquaintance. I revelled in the soft, plump pillows, the mattress shaped by my form that had not forgotten me. It was a beautiful thing to behold. I have been having small panics when I awaken that if I leave the comfort and safetly of my own bed that things will transpire against me and I will have to relinquish my haven again but as of yet that has not happened. I am making the most of this relationship between my bed and me. It is the new beginning of a wonderful love story.

In other ways my life is just plodding along as it usually does. The house is still overcrowded but everyone is coping with it the best way they can. I had been desperately worried about christmas but the truth is things had been so hectic that christmas was not even worth wasting any thoughts over. I have now started christmas shopping but I am resigned to living within my means and not getting carried away with myself. It is unfortunate or fortunate (pick your own appropriate word here) that I cannot outstep the boundaries of my budget, I have no credit to abuse, no hidden income that can be squandered over the festive period. It even crossed my mind that maybe I should make some gifts this year to spare myself the stress and presssure inflicted on the poor from every direction. I know I am not the most creative person artistically so this might not be the best idea I have ever had.

On the writing front – the stress of having my house so crowded had put a stop to all my writing plans but now that I am back in my room again I have been able to get the old cogs working again. I have nothing finished or ready to sendout into the world but at least I am writing again. I know that writing is the one thing in my life that gives me pure joy (apart from my kids) but it is also the one thing that falls by the wayside when things get hard. I need to prioritise my writing better because it keeps me sane. It is my window to make sense of the world. Back to work tomorrow and I am not really looking forward to it. Computers are not working too great so my day will be spent looking for things to pass the time.

With christmas only a couple of weeks away most people look forward to the social side of the festivities but being a single mother my plans are non-existent. I have no parties to go to, no nights out planned with workmates, no nativities, no carol concerts – not a single event. I dont even feel like this is a bad thing because if I were to be invited to anything then it would cause the stress involved with finding and buying an outfit, which in turn would cause me not to enjoy the night out as I dont do dressing up and I dont feel like me in party clothes.

I am the most unwomanly woman I know. I dont enjoy the pursuit of glamour, I do not want to put on a mask of make up and put on a fake persona to the world. I just like being me. I remember getting a spray tan (for a family wedding), my one and only spray tan ever and all the time I was being sprayed with the orange liquid I was thinking why on earth am I doing this? On the day itself my skin looked no different to the pale and interesting self that I usually am. I felt ridiculous getting it and even more silly when it made no difference to my skin colour. I felt awkward on the day since I was wearing a dress which just made me feel nothing like myself. It ruined the day for me as I could not relax. I have no understanding of the reasons why women and occasionally men go through this rigmarole to give themselves an unnatural orange hue.

I am going to stop writing now as I want to read a little before I retire to my bed. I am slowly getting back to the old me. I am starting to rebuild my life again so wish me luck. I am going to try planning some new years resolutions – have something to focus on for the new year. Watch this space.