My father gave up his earthly body on 18th Dec 2018. We seem to have a very distant relationship to death and its aftermath, I consider myself a spiritually advanced being yet I struggled with the opening term for my Dad’s death.
It just seems there is an inadequacy we have to understanding the aspect of life we all will share at some point. Perhaps its particular to this modern age that teaches the value of youth and denounces with cynical dismissal the virtues of gaining in years on this earth. I know that death has been a mystery to us down through the ages of time immemorial yet has there ever been a time when it has been ignored – with the allure of science promising us a tantalisingly close longevity of years against our supposed 70-80 years on average. It appears to me that its not extended time on earth that is needed most but an improvement in the quality of our time here!
My mother has been diagnosed with cancer now and is receiving treatment in hospital using chemo and radio therapy. Our family is going through the proverbial mill at the moment.
Its strange about life – you trundle through a monotonous week passing Tuesday and counting down to Friday then suddenly with a family crisis you are plunged into a time warp where normalcy has been suspended. The moments with a gravely sick relative take on auspicious quality and everything comes into a focus about what matters to us in life really.
I feel too much of our lives are wasted on tasks that don’t serve us well and don’t serve society well either – and perhaps not just with me personally as a civil servant! Those slavish hours spend in the office count for very little in the end and how much time do modern commuters spend in traffic away from their families and their local community. The need to address this is becoming urgent as society can only survive on the basis of strong family and community both of which are under attack from the modern way of living in the western world.
It is the tough times in life that make everything come into focus and is an opportunity to evaluate our lives and try to make sense of the ‘big picture’ aspect to our lives. As my Daddy passed on 18th December 2018 I still see the lessons in a very raw way that being that we should cherish this journey through life and not get caught up in negative and wasteful aspects of it.
For me the greatest testimony to a life is the impact that life has had on others around it. I know the most valuable memories I hold for my father over the past while was the stories of how his good nature and kindness touched the lives of others around him. Isn’t it so true that in ‘normal’ times we get so caught up in the material aspects to life that can add to us riches; yet its the wealth we hold in our hearts that is the priceless part of us and is made manifest in our choices and acts towards those around us.
My Mammy is being treated for cancer after losing her husband only a short time ago – she really has had no time to grief properly – yet her greatest concern she voiced to me was for her grown-up children’s welfare – saying that it was very hard on us after so soon losing our father. That concern my Mammy displayed is a pebble on the beach of the generosity of spirit my mother’s being is blessed with! She nurtured her children through a potentially mind crippling illness of the liver inherited as new born babies, known as PKU. This required my mother’s devotion, discipline and diligence to ensure in our formative years we had adhered to the strictures of a tough diet. To write that I owe my life to my mother is a strange articulation of my feelings as I am fully aware that without the strict disciplined diet she instilled in us I literally would not be capable of writing these words on the page – a strange feeling of profound gratitude and love.
Mammy approaches the chemo and radio therapy with a bravery and compassion for those involved in her care that makes me so full of admiration and pride – she is especially fond of the volunteer drivers and the service they provide to gain people from country access to the hospital services they require.
I pray with all my heart that my mammy’s recovery will be swift and long-lasting. I can hardly express in words the love I hold for my mammy (the Irish mammy!) I humbly submit that she ranks among the angels of heaven. My mammy has shown me through example great acts of humility, kindness and devotion to her family and the wider community throughout my life.
I am discussing my family and the trials of life that have hit us hard this past while – I suppose my desire through writing this is to bring into sharp focus the old adage “Strength through adversity”. My brother and sister and our partners and extended family have rallied strongly around us at this time.
We are all unique souls with wondrous and varied journeys to make in our chosen life paths wouldn’t it be great if we thought before we chose in life the impact on others and care for our family, friends and community.
For in the end isn’t that what life boils down to that we are all family. I believe if we adopted this philosophy more into our hearts the world would be a very much better place and our lives would become much more valuable and whole for it!
I love you mammy and daddy!
2 thoughts on “Trials and Family Bonds: What Matters?”
Great writing Barry, sometimes we just want to stop to see what is really important in our life. Family life, integrity, honesty and compassion are high on my list.
Hope to see you both soon.
Thank you Gary look forward to a stroll with Jack soon!!