maria on let us enjoy our irresponsible… Karen Shiels on This is a partial narrative of… lifeatfiftysomething on Brave new century? margaretmarymurphy on The mission lifeatfiftysomething on The mission
I would appreciate a bit of help identifying this medal. One side is a picture of Páidraig Pearse, the reverse is the text of a speech “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace” by Pearse, poet, author and patriot Commander in chief of republican army Easter 1916. It is a greyish metal, quite light in weight, would it be pewter? don’t really know.
I am an avid reader of books on both cookery and gardening. I love nothing better than to curl up and read about exotic recipes on the cookery side and dead-heading and mulching on the gardening side. People who don’t know me always assume that I have amazing cookery skills and a beautiful garden. Don’t get me wrong, I do very well in the cookery department, turning out tasty and nutritious meals, but following recipes is not my forte, I prefer to wing it. Gardening is, on the other hand, a different kettle of fish. My garden can only be described as a jungle or as I like to think of it, a wildlife haven.
Last year I planted sweet pea, that beautiful climbing plant. I watched and watered it carefully and tied it on to a trellis as best I could. Yes, I got lovely flowers, and flushed with success, I read all I could about the plant in my numerous gardening books. They all agreed you have to dead-head and pick them to keep the flowers coming. Straight away, I hit a major hurdle. I cannot bring myself to pinch out a living flower, even if it is starting to wither and turn brown. Every now and then someone would visit and pluck out the sorry looking flowers with a lecture about dead-heading. And the good result of this made me determined to ruthlessly cut short the life span of further flowers, and fill the house up with sweet smelling blooms. Alas, my good intentions were in vain, my scissors refused to harm the old and withered blooms.
I am the same with weeds; I start out with great intentions, but fall at the first weed. I stare at it and see the lovely little flower or interesting leaf shape and I can’t bring myself to pluck it, I’m of the opinion that weeds are flowers in the wrong place. A couple of weeks ago I noticed a wild thistle growing in one of my flower pots and went in for my little fork to take it out. By the time I got back it had developed a personality of its own and I knelt there admiring the lovely shape of it. I have been watching it ever since and the flower is as lovely as I expected it to be, it will probably seed and spread it’s offspring all over ,my garden, but I don’t care, it’s still lovely. A couple of days ago I hid myself away as my son cut down the crop of nettles all over my garden. Even though I think nettles have a beauty of their own, this was necessary so I could walk up and down my garden.
I still have a huge clump of a lovely purple flowered tall weed, and earlier in the year I got great pleasure from a bumper crop of dandelions, the vibrant yellow was a match for any marigold I ever tried to grow. I get great joy from the occasional seedling that escapes from nearby gardens and decides to grow alongside its wild cousins. I love to stop and stare at other peoples gardens, and admire their gardening skills, knowing I will never have that compliment paid to me.
I bought a lovely azalea at the weekend, and by the time I got it home it was looking a bit ragged and some of the flowers were turning brown. Well it sits on my deck now, in all its bedraggled glory, and if the wilted flowers fall off, well and good, but if not, so what, I still enjoy looking at it. My sons often offer to dig up weeds and turn the soil, but then what would happen, the same again.
I still envy other peoples gardens and I love visiting gardens and garden centres but I have given up all hope of owning a garden that will win best garden of the year. I will pretend to be an ecological nutcase who is intent on saving the local plant and insect life, while the people around me just think I’m a lazy slob. Whatever, I will enjoy my flowers and weeds, and pretend I can’t tell the difference, and to be truthful, for all my reading, I don’t think I can. But oh, I really wish I could weed.
I teased and smoothed for ages, Dusty Springfield would have been jealous of me beehive. You were nobody in the early sixties without the elaborate hairstyle. Copious amounts of lacquer applied, not the much improved product of today, but little more than a concoction of sugar and water and the end result was as good as a crash helmet. Maybe that’s the reason helmets weren’t obligatory in those days, sure Marlon Brando would have looked a right eejit in a helmet, and you’ll have noticed he never had a hair out of place either, no matter how fast he went on that Harley D bike.
Going out to meet me mates, I felt like a queen, me hair felt as heavy as a crown, anyway. It was a lovely September day (the dreaded time of the year when wasps are at their nastiest) as we all set out to promenade ourselves along the Promenade in Bray. We spent a few hours sussing out the local talent, such as it was, as young adults do, even today. None of the Teddy boys on show caught our fancy, so we eventually gave up the hunt and sauntered nonchalontly homeward. When we left the strand and headed up the town, the wasps began to gather round our elaborate sugary confections, causing a lot of unexpected gymnastics much to the amusement of the passers by.
When I felt a tickle inside me beehive and put me hand up to scratch it, I got the first sting, OW, OW, OW, the screams were ferocious and people were running from all over, nobody knew what was wrong with your woman hopping around pounding her own head with closed fists, I think I was only minutes away from being carted off by men in white coats, when I eventually killed the fecker. Five stings on me scalp, that was when I found out that wasps can sting more than once. How that wasp managed to penetrate that beehive was a mystery to us girls, that day and forever since.
Well, I can’t say the incident led to me forsaking the beehive hairstyle, after all it was the fashion, and if you weren’t in fashion back then, you were considered hickey. But I did bring a light scarf everywhere after that, and the first buzz had me head swathed in muslin. As they say, once bitten (or in my case five times bitten) twice shy.
The swan opens her white wings slowly, she is majestic.
I see visions of chaste brides, novice nuns and new born babes.
A kaleidoscope of purity and innocence runs through my mind like a river of love.
The swan, unaware of my admiration, is tending her ugly ducklings.
Who will soon become beautiful swans?
Reminding me to be aware of the hidden beauty in everything,
Even the seemingly ugly.
Every creature, plant, stone or body of water has the possibility to become a rare thing of beauty.
Never assume it not worthy of admiration if unattractive.
If you look carefully enough you will see the hidden beauty in all of God’s creations.
A lot of people think childhood years are the irresponsible ones, but in my experience it is the golden years of old age that deserve that title. When I was a child in a large family there were always chores, younger siblings to watch over and a granny to accompany on her regular trips to seven o’clock mass and the occasional trip to the circus. You probably think the circus trip was a treat for me too, but you would be wrong, I am one of the few people that find them creepy especially the clowns.
Children, even today’s over-indulged variety have a lot of, mostly concealed, responsibilities, living up to parent’s hopes, doing as well as possible in school and worrying about peer-pressure and nowadays, of course they have all the fears about drug and drink addiction.
When I left school at thirteen it was not an uncommon age to finish schooling in my social circle. Having said that, we all knew that daddy, a self-taught man, would have dug ditches as a second job if any of us had expressed an interest in further education. The only thing all six of us girls wanted to do was sewing, and we all ended up as machinists working for fashion clothier Donald Davis. The working years have a different set of responsibilities, giving a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, contributing to the household budget, clothing ourselves and paying for a social life where possible.
Then there was marriage and raising a family, in my opinion, the greatest responsibility. A lot of women of my generation reared large families on very little money. This is not the first recession we have lived through. There was very little social life when the children were little. It was a constant battle to provide nourishing food and adequate clothing for most of my middle years. While I’m on the subject of raising a family. I believe very strongly that women who leave the work force to raise children should automatically qualify for a full contributory pension and not have to settle for a means tested non-contributory as I did. And, talk about free education, even back then, it was anything but free.
Now, at last, in my golden years I can be as irresponsible as I want. Unlike my daughters, who have to organise babysitters, school mornings etc. I can swan off for weekends or even weeks whenever I feel like it, thanks to my free travel. My only responsibility nowadays is to make sure the fridge is stocked for hubby when I’m not there.
Now, I hear, our misnamed *dept of social protection* may be thinking of taking away the few perks OAPs enjoy, on the orders of *the troika* what does that say about our government. To take away our travel passes when TDs are getting more than our pensions to commute from Greystones and even nearer in some cases. The entitlement culture in our government would turn your stomach, outrageous wages are not enough for them, they claim expenses that are sometimes multiples of the wage of the people they are proposing to cut pay and services to.
Surly it can’t be long now until they deliver the final straw and bring their pampered cosy little house of cards down around their expensively styled haircuts. I think, it could be targeting us oldies that will bring them down. We deserve to enjoy our final years in dignity and comfort, after all, I could name a few ex politicians that are years younger than any of us OAPs that are enjoying a huge *pension* that we, and the rest of our fellow citizens are paying for. Let us enjoy being irresponsible in our old age, we have done our duty, and now we deserve some fun.
Eleven years ago the world celebrated a momentous event * The Milleneum *. The dawn of the twenty-first century was going to change the world forever, we were on the cusp of solving all it’s ills. We can all remember where we were on that memorable new years eve, who we were with, what we were doing. Indeed I have a certificate that came with a commemoration candle that was delivered to every household. The idea was that everyone present signed their names on the paper, so we could have a permanent reminder of the celebrations. Alas, I was silly enough to save this ceremony until the witching hour, a lot of toasts to the coming new century were drunk before that, with the result that every name on my form is illegible, I can’t even find my own.
So here we are, eleven years after this once in a lifetime celebration, with all our new century resolutions to make this a better world, worthy of a bright new age, forgotten just as any ordinary new year resolution is, by the end of January.
Instead of progressing we are sliding backwards into medieval conditions. The rich are getting even richer, while the poor are being sold into slavery. We have people having to move out of apartments they very recently mortgaged their soul for,.while the people who allowed the jerry building of them are in high market mansions in our choicest districts. Our politicians are continuing with the very same policies that brought us to our knees, we have a raggle taggle bunch of wannabes queuing up to fight over a job that will cost us more of our short supply of cash and is a useless luxury in our present circumstances.
Every day a new piece of news emerges to shine light on our leaders incompetence, *advisors* over the agreed cap on pay, some of them. If they couldn’t do the job themselves, why did our politicians tell us they could, oh yes, the pay/perks/pension.
On another continent, people are starving to death, children will never grow up to fulfil their destiny, and reliable experts tell us that there is more than enough food produced in the world to feed all. Every day in the developed world tons of food are destroyed, because of spurious sell-by dates. Supermarkets are no longer allowed to give out of date food, even end of day bread to charities, thanks to crazy EU laws.
I saw a post on facebook recently that summed up our brave new century perfectly, a picture of Steve Jobs and a picture of starving Somalian children with the caption ” one pertson dies and the whole world cries, thousands die and no-one cries”
We started this century with such high hopes, none of us would see the start of another one, we should change the world for our grandchildren down the line. But instead, we have sold them into bondage well beyond our lifetimes because of greed and corruption in all walks of life. A brave new world indeed ???????
This is a partial narrative of my life that is somewhat out of date now I am sorry to say LOL it was written as an essay 13 years ago when I was studying for the leaving cert. My sixteen year old son is now thirty and I have to add another generation on, as I now have a four year old greatgrandson.
Looking Back through a mirror
Standing in the hallway adjusting my scarf, a figure passed behind me, a tall handsome young man. I caught my own eye in the mirror and paused, transfixed, as I realised that this tall dark stranger was my baby. Wasn’t it only yesterday I was walking him to school? When did he develop those wide shoulders. Is that a moustache? He’s a foot taller than me. What else have I missed? All those girls calling here, girl-friends !! I thought they were his mates’ sisters. I should have noticed; I don’t have to wash behind his ears anymore.
Where have all the years gone? I stare at my face in the mirror, stunned, who is this old woman looking out at me, lined face, grey hair; it can’t be me, surely. When did this happen? I don’t feel old, I have dreams, I have plans, have I got time to fulfil them. I look back down the years and am amazed to realise I’ve been married for thirty-three years. I could swear it was only a couple of years ago that Bill and I used to sneak up bray head and lay the blanket on the ground. Does he look as old as me? I don’t think I can live with an old man. How did I get trapped in this old body?
The mirror turns into a kaleidoscope of memories before my eyes. I’m back in my childhood home. I’m sixteen, I’m arguing with one of my sisters over whose turn it is to use the bath-room. Now I’m twenty-one, it’s my birthday party; daddy has invited the whole town. I get sixteen slip and knickers sets as presents.
Suddenly I’m walking down the aisle, there’s a handsome young man waiting at the altar for me, he looks familiar, it’s my dark-haired husband. Now we’re both looking at a beautiful baby girl, this is the mother of two of our grand-children! My eyes fill with tears as I gaze into my past. Now I’m seeing a parade of beloved faces that can only be seen in memory. I see my beloved father, beloved aunts and uncles. And I’m holding my beloved son Stephen, who died in infancy in my arms again. All the christenings, weddings and funerals in my extended family take their turn in my mind. They were so full of laughter, tears, more laughter.
Sometimes I think that memory is God’s greatest gift, a smell, a song, sometimes only a word can take you back to happy times spent with someone you have loved and lost. We had such plans when we married, Bill and I, what happened to them? We would travel abroad when the children were grown. How come we didn’t notice it was time to go. What else did we plan? My god! I can’t even remember our dreams, did any of them come true.
I always wanted to become a mid-wife when the children were older, it would be time to retire by the time I qualified now. Does Bill still have dreams unfulfilled, and does he blame me if he has. Are we too old now to have new dreams? Will they disappear in a flash just like our old dreams? Or will time slow down enough for us to see something happen in slow motion before we really are too old to care. I come back to the present, with a start, to find myself still standing in the hall, my son long gone.
I’m staring at this mature, wise, distinguished looking, handsome face. Yes, this is, me warts and all. Why should I resent these lines on my face, they are badges of honour. They show every laugh, every tear. They are proof that I have lived. True, I might not have done everything I intended to do with my life, but god knows, I have helped to create two generations who may outdo everything I ever dreamed of, and who may, one day see me in a mirror as a treasured memory.