Glancing through my old diaries, I see a lot of stuff about Sean, of course. Christmas 1993, for example … Susanna was six weeks old; she and Pauline were in the hospital – Pauline had gall-bladder problems. Sean was two; he and I were in the house in Dublin with my father, who was visiting.
Saturday 25 December – Christmas Day
Sean woke me at 4.20 talking about spiders downstairs, and insisted that he come downstairs with me for his milk. He then insisted that I turn the kitchen light on (I’d been hoping he wouldn’t see his present). When he saw it he said ‘My slide!’ and was delighted with it. I let him play on it for a few minutes and then took him back to bed.
We got up around 10 and Christmas Day proper began. I rang Pauline – she would be able to come home for a few hours as she had hoped. I cooked a big dinner, helped by Sean – he always insists on helping with the dinner these days. Roast chicken and potatoes, cauliflower in white sauce, Brussels sprouts and parsnip. Carrot cake to follow.
Pauline got home (in a taxi) with Susanna just before I served it up. Sean wouldn’t eat any; my dad and I had too much and left a good bit. Pauline had had her low-fat Christmas dinner at the hospital.
[We spent a good bit of time at the next-door neighbours’; Pauline and Susanna went back to the hospital.]
Sean, on being brought home, screamed the house down while I was trying to get him to bed.
Sunday 26 December
The usual sort of morning, making breakfast and keeping young and old amused. In the afternoon I took Sean in the buggy to the hospital. I had hoped to leave him with my dad, but he made too much of a fuss. He fell asleep in the buggy on the way (it took me about 35 minutes to walk to Mount Carmel) and only woke up when we were nearly home, to ask ‘Where’s the hospital??’ …
… We had pasta with the leftover sauce from Christmas Eve. My dad and I drank a can of lager each, and we had a quiet night in. Sean was awake till 12.30 or so, finally falling asleep on the beanbag.
35 responses to “Christmas 1993”
What a lovely photo, precious memories.
Thank you, Levent.
Hello Brendano. I am always struck by your son’s eyes, so full of laughter.
Your diaries must seem very important to you indeed, now.
Special occasions such as Christmas will be full of memories and longing. A long and hard desert to cross.
Hello Cymbeline. Yes, Sean laughed a lot. He saw the funny side of things very easily.
I’m glad I kept the diaries … it’s a pity I stopped, really. I meant to keep a journal on the computer, but largely neglected it.
Yes, I think Christmas will be quite tough without him, after 19 Christmases with him.
I return to this photograph again and again. Adorable.
Thanks, Levent. Yes, it’s a nice one of Sean.
The events you describe occurred 6 months before my very first visit to Ireland, in the summer of 1994, when the Football (as opposed to Rugby) World Cup was being played in the USA. I was still living in Atlanta, USA, but had decided, on a whim, to visit the Emerald Isle. I believe I once, on MyT, described what occurred in a pub when I encountered 4 very jovial businessmen. To think that all that happened only 16 years ago. In the meantime, Sean grew up from being a little boy into a young man and in so doing created for you a host of memories and feelings.
Hello Sipu. I don’t think I saw the story of the jovial businessmen. I remember the story of the almighty row you had with an American girlfriend, in one of Ireland’s best hotels. Was it the same trip?
PS ‘led’ not ‘lead’ in your introduction to the Fork Handles blog.
Thank you. Corrected! How remiss of me. I suppose if I go so far as to create my own blog site, I ought to maintain it.
Hi Cymbers, No, it was a different trip. The one with the tricksy girl was in 2000, I think. Gosh, I don’t remember writing about the row. That holiday was a disaster and deserving of a chapter or two in my as yet uncontemplated autobiography. My goodness, people of the female persuasion can be difficult to understand at times. I suppose that is their charm. x
Hello Sipu … thanks for this. Yes, I remember the story of your encounter with the businessmen.
I’ve been watching Heineken Cup rugby this afternoon … Munster have beaten Ospreys, and Clermont and Leinster are 10-10 at half-time. My first time watching it without Sean … he loved these Heineken Cup afternoons.
Brendan, I don’t know how you cope. Every time I think of you, I just imagine this enormous void in your life. A pastime such as watching rugby, which you used to do with your boy, must now seem so meaningless.
No need to respond to that. I am just airing my thoughts.
Yes, a huge void. But life goes on, and the rugby doesn’t seem meaningless, funnily enough. Sean cared a great deal about it, and I still do too. I still find myself emotionally involved in it.
It’s still hard to believe that he is gone and won’t be coming back.
Hello Brendano. We were speaking about watching the Heineken Cup not so long ago. So much has changed for you in that short space of time.
Hello Cymbeline. Yes, unfortunately it has. I did miss Sean today, but then I miss him every day.
…a very moving tribute Brendan. it gives a great sense of Sean. thinking of you all. Yvonne & Sarah xx
Thanks very much, Yvonne and Sarah. Hope to see you soon.
Totally irrelevant. Feel free to delete it.
I just recalled talkinga bout this with you before:
““‘Başınız sağ olsun.’ This is such a clever and correct Turkish saying. I thought I would lose my mind after the explosion. That much of an immense sorrow can damage your mental health. This sentence grasps that pain. It wishes for your mind to stay healthy and alive. People’s reaction to death in England is very different than here; they shy away from you maybe because they do not know what to say. Here, everyone, but everyone comes. There they stay far apart because they don’t have the right words. What you are doing is correct and nice. When you are with that person when he or she is sad, you can close that chapter and open a new one. When you cannot talk about it, that invisible subject becomes bigger and bigger, stands right in the middle of you and never ends. You have the correct words to say for every kind of a situation: ‘Afiyet olsun’ and ‘Kolay gelsin.’ We don’t have any reciprocals for these.””
Hello Brendano, Merhaba Levent. A charming and moving testimony from a woman who loves Turkey and Turkish people. Do not think though, Levent, that English or British reserve means that people feel less keenly. There are many ways of expressing sincere condolence in the English language, and in behaviour. The people within that culture understand the feeling behind the words and behaviour, and they would feel uncomfortable if those codes were not respected. This lady seems to prefer the Turkish way, and that is fine too.
Hello Cymbeline. Cultures have evolved over a long time and tend to deal with things in a way that suits the people that constitute them, I think. Hence we are happy to have everyone pass through our house, but an English woman we know says she would be appalled at this … it would feel like a violation of her space.
Neither way is better, as you imply. Horses for courses.
Hmmm. I want to say there is no bird other than crow 🙂
But then again I refer to your old blog belching at the table.
I mean I agree with you.
My friends said that Arabs are not true muslims when they see they use Quran like pillows. In our culture we do not carry Quran below the waist and don’t hold our legs against it (like lying).
I said its our way of showing respect not theirs.
I don’t know if true, I have heard in a cannibal tribe, its a great shame if a son doesn’t eat his fathers dead body.
Thanks, Levent. The Irish culture would be more similar to the Turkish one than to the English one, then, in terms of dealing with death. Here, ‘everyone comes’ too.
Irish Catholics closer in culture to Turkish Muslims? I think not 😉
Too late, Cymbeline! You said ‘Exactly’; you can’t take it back now. 😉
The ‘exactly’ concerned your 7.22 !
I felt that the meaning was the same (he said nervously). 😦
Beware of generalizations based on a single Englishwoman in Turkey, or an Englishwoman in Ireland. In the UK, ‘everyone comes’ too, unless one is perhaps an isolated city dweller. In my family, people come from miles and miles from all over the country and all over the world. Non-stop sherry and seedcake, and all that sort of thing.
If you say so (he said dubiously). I didn’t think the English ‘did’ wakes (whatever about the Welsh and their sin-eaters 😉 ).
Not ‘wakes’ as such, but people visit before the funeral, and are given sherry or tea, as well as biscuits and cake. After the funeral, there is another more formal and lavish reception. A lot of talking goes on. I speak of both my Welsh and English sides of the family. I expect it is much the same for other British families.
I see. Thank you for that.
Before the funeral, the coffin is in the house. In my experience, the coffin is closed and in a separate room to the main reception area. Those who wish to pay their respects privately and quietly may do so. You wouldn’t go in there with a cup of tea or a glass of sherry though. In my experience, there is no sitting and talking around the coffin.
Before the coffin leaves the house, the vicar or minister may lead a prayer. There may be hymns.
When the coffin leaves the house, the people follow in their cars to either the church or the crematorium.
Sean’s body was brought to our house on the Monday night. His coffin was open in our sitting room till the Wednesday morning. Many people called, and were able to have a quiet time with Sean in that room and to say goodbye to him. There were quite a few people in there at times, sitting or standing mainly in silence.
There were also people in our kitchen all the time, talking and drinking tea or eating, and some of Sean’s friends spent time in his bedroom. There wasn’t much alcohol, except that we drank whiskey late on the Sunday night.
Some people followed the hearse in cars on the Wednesday morning; most went directly to the church. As I mentioned before, a huge number of people passed through the house in those few days, and everyone was well looked after by our friends and neighbours.
Great warmth, and great kindness.