Last Father's Day, my five-year-old came up with the idea of going to visit her grandfather in the graveyard.
My father died of a heart attack when my husband was three, leaving a young wife with five children.
The girls scampered around happily looking at all the gravestones and making me read out names. One old stone had a long list.
"There’s a lot of them in there, they must be piled up on top of each other.
There was a tiny ancient metal cross.
"Look over here, a fairy grave."
On one of them was a carving of Jesus.
"Jesus’ grave … I have found Jesus’ grave," my youngest shouted delightedly. That would boost tourism in the area and probably save Galway airport.
The little girl that died in January and broke everyone’s heart is buried in the corner. On her grave were flowers, cards, windmills and little toys left by her school friends. My throat ached trying to hold down the sadness as I thought of her family but the children danced around it saying how pretty it was,
"Definitely the prettiest in the graveyard."
When it was time to leave, my husband was calling them. There were a few other respectful mourners going about their business. My youngest daughter shouted in temper and stamped her foot.
"I AM IN THE MIDDLE OF A PRA…YER"
Children can’t tiptoe around these subjects.
They are completely overtired with the long summer holidays from the school approach. My five-year-old has turned into a stamping, shouting tornado and the six-year-old into one long whine. They collapse in tears at the slightest provocation.
The school tour is on tomorrow and they are so overexcited it’s not funny. They are going on a bus to Coole Park to have a teddy bears picnic. They have already practiced the picnic on the floor multiple times and the six-year-old asked me if it was normal to see teddy bears "everywhere".
I felt that mothers’ guilty yearning of wanting to pack a small rucksack and take a one-way flight to Thailand. Then I remembered how much I miss the childhood selves of my oldest two, never again to demand constant drinks of water or trip me up around the kitchen. That age-old mother’s conundrum. It was cured with a trip to the cinema on Saturday to see "Senna" with a big pot of Ben and Jerry's.
I was speaking to my own father. He wanted help using his new Kindle. He had managed to download something inappropriate and was in a panic to get it off his list. A bit like the time they wanted to go to "Lord of the Rings" and ended up sitting through half of "The Ring"!
After a lot of "right arrow, press the dot, press home, down arrow, up arrow, press home again" etc. we managed to delete it. This was no small achievement over the phone as these machines are never obvious, especially if you are 78 years old and have had to embrace this whole new language in the last few years.
My husband’s father and uncle were the first people in the village to hook up a TV. They used to face it out the window of the shop and everyone would gather on the pavement to watch it. He would have coped well in the technological age, if only they had perfected the pacemaker a couple of years earlier.
* Originally published in 2011, updated in June 2021.