Home Again

Posted on 01 May 2011

I have had one day home alone since I returned from Northern Ireland and am luxuriating in the quiet (and this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time with my mother and relatives. I did.)

A few days after the wedding I walked over to my cousin Roy’s estate at Cherryfield – my mother’s birth place and home until she married though the old house is crumbling and Roy and Colette have replaced it with a new sprawling brick bungalow. They are pleased how their daughter’s wedding turned out. I spoke of Gill’s wedding next year and our trip to a wedding-dress store.

Colette told me that Caroline bought her wedding dress seven years ago when she and Marshall were about to be married. Some disagreement happened and they went their separate ways. The very expensive, very beautiful dress has hung in her closet ever since. When they decided once again to marry, she wanted a new dress but, in the end, couldn’t bring herself to spend such a large sum and so had the original dry-cleaned. Smart woman. She and Marshall Kennedy – yes, she married a man with the same last name as hers – have gone to the Maldives for a week’s honeymoon, Caroline leaving the wedding present from her husband – a Shetland pony – and her four Chihuahuas to her mother to tend.

Being back in Northern Ireland always makes we wonder what I would be like if my parents hadn’t decided to leave. Would I be different – less demanding and less adventurous? All my cousins seem content with their lot and are not great travelers except for Debra, my Auntie Barbara’s daughter.

I found it interesting that only the great aunts and uncles were invited to the wedding (I was the exception) and the second and first cousins were invited to the after-dinner affair for dancing and paper cones of fish and chips. And as I was my mum’s sidekick, I also attended a tea at my Auntie Barbara’s where I was able to take a photo of the four sisters together – which I’ve placed under one that was taken at least fifty years ago.

After visiting with Roy and Colette, I went next door, past a field of Gary’s sheep, to see Roy’s sister Margaret and her husband David who invited me for dinner. After, we went to “Pretty Marys” a bar in Moira, and listened to live music – a singer with acoustic guitar who played a wide enough range of songs to appeal to all ages. On the dance floor, I ran into my cousin Trevor who was so pleasantly pickled that we simply said hello. I must say that this is a rare sight even with the young. My mother’s family, although definitely Northern Irish, are not big drinkers. Few take a glass of wine with dinner.

On Easter Sunday, I roasted lamb in wine, garlic, and rosemary and made a huge casserole of escalloped potatoes. Dolores boiled a ham, steamed carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, and roasted pototes. My mother and Auntie Isobel joined us for our mid-day meal and we ate so much I wasn’t ready to eat until 10 that evening when all I could manage was a few crackers with cheese. (I surprised myself that I could enjoy Gary’s lamb after becoming so fond of his lives ones.)

My cousin Ken and Dolores drove me to Dublin the next morning where I caught a plane to Toulouse. Rob picked me up at the airport. An hour after arriving home, my nephew Simon and his fiancee Katherine arrived at our door. A day later, my niece Emily and her love Ray arrived and so I enjoyed another family feast – an old Maritime favourite of salt cod and mashed potatoes with a salad and asparagus, followed by fresh strawberries and cheese – a very lively feast as all four young people were in great spirits after their travels and so the wine and conversation flowed. Both Rob and I wished that they were staying longer. They all left around noon the next day for the airport.

I haven’t done much since save for laundry (mine plus that from the rental house) and setting up my new ipad2 which took me a while as I have always had one of my technical sons with me when I got a new computer. After taking several wrong turns and having to erase and start afresh, I finally have it in working order. It truly is the “miracle” that Steve Jobs says it is. (Thank you, Brendan and Rob.)

And so my family time has ended and I must get down to work (though Rob and I are taking a few days off next week and driving to Sommieres but that’s another story.)

The only sad news that I want to relate is that my friend Kate who is living in Germany lost custody of her two children to her estranged (or should that be “deranged”?) husband this past week. She is devastated and yet must gather her wits within two weeks to contest the judge’s decision. I spoke to her yesterday and she couldn’t stop crying. I hate it when a loved one is suffering and there is nothing I can do.

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