To the man with the rose garden...
IFEEL that’s an appropriate title. I was 14, you were, shall I say, elderly. I had secured a job in the Grand Hotel, Salthill, you lived in Lower Salthill. My home was 50 miles away in North Galway and my mother was taken to hospital in what was then called the Regional Hospital.
Every day I passed your house as I walked to visit her. Mammy had a beautiful flower garden, too, and neighbours and teachers received beautiful bunches of dahlias and gladioli.
One day you were in your garden and I asked you for flowers for my mother.
You gave me a funny look, but then took out your pruner and cut a dozen of your most beautiful red roses. I thanked you, but never went back to see you. Years later I discovered yours was a prize-winning garden and I also knew by then that people with such gardens do not cut the flowers for use.
I think of you every time I prune my own red roses. Your house is still there, not a rose in sight.
I would like to thank you sincerely for brightening up the day of a child of the 1960s and her mother, and also to say sorry for never returning to visit you. Sincerely Marian Neary Burke
YOU don’t know me, I never knew your name. You didn’t get to inhale the world outside; I did. I suck my thumb — every night, every downtime, I soothe myself with this childish act.
I am 40 years old and have always sucked my thumb, and my teeth slant outwards; yours never had the chance.
I sometimes think about why I do this and wonder if it is an unconscious throwback to the womb, a safe place. A place with you and I. Maybe it’s an excuse to allow me to indulge.
I don’t remember when I was told, it seems as if I always knew. I had a twin, she died at birth.
Later, jokingly, being told that I ate too much, she was too small, she couldn’t survive. Nothing changes, sis. I still find it hard to back away from the table. I have struggled with weight my whole adult life. I wonder about what could have been. I try not to romanticise things — we could have fought, we could have been rivals for any available affection. But we also could have been close, a shared voice, a loyal ear.
We might have looked alike — but I’ll tell you now, you were spared that one, I’m passable, a beauty perhaps in the Victorian sense — long face, strong jaw, high noble forehead. It’s funny, well maybe more strange, I never knew you but I did spend nine months with you. Is it irrelevant? Is it important? Did your loss make me who I am?
An acquaintance once said to me that in cases where one twin dies, the other gets all the gifts.
Really? I am blessed in so many ways but I don’t think I have a double dose of any one gift, and if I did I’d much rather have you... goodbye, sis. Your dearest twin, Mary
IT’S been 10 years now since you left us. Ten years since you were found dead in your favourite armchair, the cup of tea at your elbow stone cold and your body colder still.
I won’t pretend we were close. Our relationship was awkward and strained at the best of times. But your passing still hit me hard.
The initial shock gave way to regret. Regret that we hadn’t stayed in touch more. And that now I would never have the chance to say a proper goodbye. I want to rectify that now. When someone is gone, they are gone. All you have left of them are memories. I remember taking care while holding your hand to avoid being accidentally burnt by your cigarette.
I remember being kissed goodnight by you as I wondered why your breath smelled strange. Not understanding it was the rank, sweet odour of alcohol. I remember how you would eat a ham sandwich and that even now, I find myself eating one in the same manner.
There is more of you in me than I care to admit. The short temper. The impatience with the foolish ways of others.
The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son. You were my dad for better or for worse. Goodbye Tom, rest in peace. Edward O’Reilly
Dear Barbara, Adrienne & Alan McDunphy,
SOME 45 years ago, in the summer of 1972, my brother and I had the privilege of staying with you. Previously both families had met in Skerries in the summer of 1971. Friendships were made back then. However, on March 13, 1972, our mother sadly passed away. By means of communicating by letter, your parents kindly invited us down to your home in Walkinstown, Co Dublin.
To this very day I treasure these fond memories of that summer in Dublin. Sadly, as time went by I lost contact with you. I even tried writing and I contacted the Irish
Independent in the hope of one day meeting up again. The memories and the photographs of that wonderful summer back in 1972 are well documented in my personal short story that I penned.
It was a really nice gesture of your parents to think of us in a time of need.
I look forward to the day that I can thank you all personally for inviting me to your home in Walkinstown and for making that holiday one that I will never forget. I really hope you are all keeping well. Your sincerely, Lawrence (Larry) Power
IHOPE you are well as this leaves me in good form. The traditional beginning to a letter I remember my mother using when she wrote to her relatives and she was a good letter writer in her day.
Anyway, God, I was just thinking, it’s about time I put pen to paper to thank you for looking after me for the past 72 years.
As you know, I was born into a loving family and had a happy childhood, together with my brother and sister.
My schooldays were good and I enjoyed the challenges which came up during my time in the Convent of Mercy School. During my final year in primary school, I did parish work such as collecting the local Silver Circle, which was a fundraiser for parochial purposes.
I went around the houses collecting a shilling a line from each house and the top prize was £20, with five prizes of £1 each.
I did a bit of work for your establishment, too, ringing the Angelus bell for a term, singing in the choir and plain chant and helping to erect the crib at Christmas. This early activity laid the groundwork for the community work I did in my native parish, Thomastown, and continue to do in my adopted parish of Bennettsbridge, where I have lived for nearly 50 years.
But, sure you know all that and I believe that you were keeping an eye on me and my family through the years.
I want to thank you for a good marriage, a loving husband, five great children, and eight lovely grandchildren who give us great joy. Through the years we have enjoyed good health — another reason to be grateful to your good self. We have had some important family celebrations, including christenings, first communions, confirmations and weddings, to mention just a few.
Of course, we have had our ups and downs along the way, but with your help we managed to overcome the obstacles which came along.
We have been lucky to be able to give our family a good start in life and all of them have good jobs. I think you may have had a hand in that, too.
We live in a comfortable home and are blessed to have good neighbours. The church plays an important role in our lives. The man in charge of our parish is doing a good job and carries out his duties in a responsible and kindly manner. We help out when needed at parochial events. As you know, I am a church reader and also a member of the choir.
Through the years, I have been privileged to be involved in various groups and activities, including Ladies’ Club, Tidy Towns, the writing group and, in more recent times, an art group.
All of these pursuits have enriched my life and I am grateful for the talents which have given me great fulfilment.
I am delighted to be able to return thanks for your continued influence in my life and hope to enjoy a few more years with your kind permission. Your obedient servant, Joan