So as Aunt Teresa left our lives, Uncle Paddy and his family arrived.
In September 2011, my uncle finally made the trip across the Irish Sea, to the home he had never forgotten. Flanked by his daughter, her husband and their daughter, they arrived on the back street in Co. Roscommon.
He stood in the home where he was born for the first time in over four decades, as my parents, Mike and Margaret, lavished our new-found family with hospitality.
The Ireland he had known was long gone. But the walls of the Muldoon house, where he had grown up, were familiar.
Family and friends gathered around to get re-acquainted with Paddy Muldoon. On a fine autumn evening, Paddy and his old-school friend Jack Frain, who travelled from Cork especially, walked the piggery road. Their two younger brothers, my father and Fergus Frain, lagging behind. A sight to behold. Old school friends travelling the same path to the brother’s school, the same steps they had taken decades before.
In the end, the six Muldoon siblings never got the chance to recreate their family portrait. But for a few months, despite sickness and oceans, they all got to exist with one other again. The lost being found just as life slips away.
Despite the distance, despite the heartache, hurt, and anguish, the Muldoon siblings came together in a shared appreciation for the unity created by the blood coursing through their veins. A year now since her death, we all remember Aunt Teresa, her fighting spirit, her legacy of laughter.
So now I am another Muldoon who left Knocknacunny for New York. I try my best to keep in touch with home. Phone calls and text messages, Sunday Skype and even the occasional handwritten letter.
Roscommon is never far from my thoughts. I remind myself every day of the brevity of our existence, the importance of family and that it's never too late to pick up the phone and call home.
(In memory of Teresa McMahon May 28, 1951-December 13, 2010)
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