Archives for posts with tag: family

Airport arrivals, the point of transition. From a world of cramped spaces, endless queues and tiresome inactivity, now life can begin again. It is a place where worlds come together. In this spot, each day, a thousand mini-stories get told.

Witness the anticipation, the young woman hiding behind the sign. The father and daughter wearing outrageous, unkempt wigs. The small children sidling up to the doors, furtively looking down into the hallway. The expectant stares, the worried looks, the checking and re-checking of panels, counting the flights that have landed. What’s keeping them? Why is it taking so long?

Then the joy, the elation. The moment of recognition. Passivity suddenly replaced by pure joy. The children racing around, soon to be whisked into the arms of a loved one. The young woman jumping from behind the sign. The cries and grasps of delight. The older traveller feeling like a small helpless child, now reunited with a person long missing from their lives.

The embraces. The looks of sheer love and relief. The passionate kisses. The tears. For a moment, all is well with the world. For a moment, emotions are laid bare, differences forgotten. The importance of these people, being here, in this place, at this time. Nothing else counts.

The grabbing of the bags, the gifts handed over, the hands clenched tightly around each other. The small children raised aloft, like tiny trophies after the journey. Here, this way. Let’s go. You are with us now.

The story ends, to be replaced in seconds with another tale. Then another. And another. The arrivals hall. If there is such a thing as magic, you will find it here.

I was about 13 years old when I came out to my dad. I’m sure he had known it for years already and had probably prepared for the worst. He must often have wondered what he did wrong to have a son like me. He had his dreams, but alas, those aspirations would never be fulfilled.

He had to face the truth. I was utterly useless at hurling.

Now, it wasn’t all bad, because I was equally rubbish at football, tennis or golf. In fact, almost all sports eluded me. For a man of sport, in a county where the ability to play hurling was more important than winning the Nobel Prize or landing on the Moon, his first son was an unfortunate freak of nature.

The thing was, my dad was exceptionally good at sport. In his youth, he played Minor hurling for Kilkenny (which made him a minor god in the locality). He loved nothing better than to go to a game, or watch a match on the TV. I remember going to many matches with him during my childhood – and being bored out of my wits – while he savoured every puck of the ball. There was no-one quite like my dad to read a game and explain how a team won or lost. For me, it was just a mass of confusion.

In my teens, he encouraged me to take up golf. Surprisingly, I loved it. I was never much good at it, of course, but I enjoyed the game and I enjoyed being with him. We both loved ideas, so in between shots, we debated endlessly with each other – science, politics, religion, current affairs: you name it. In a time when I was learning how to be an adult, these games brought us both together.

That’s one of my memories of dad. He passed away ten years ago this month, after a long illness that slowly sucked any quality of life away from him. I miss those games of golf. I miss going with him to hurling games listening him talk about the tactics, the heroes and the mistakes. Most of all, I miss him.

Now, with sons of my own – all of whom, incomprehensibly, are very talented sports players – I feel that an important part of him has been passed on. It’s a nice feeling.

Some of you are aware that, these last few weeks, I have been going through a health-crisis that had the potential to change my life dramatically. One minute everything was plain sailing, the next minute I was plunged into a world of anxiety, where control over my future had been placed, quite literally, into the hands of other people.

I’m glad to report that I was given some good news over the weekend. Hopefully now, I can put these events behind me, even if it means that I need to face the future somewhat more tentatively than I did in the past.

I have been overwhelmed by the goodness in people who heard about what I was going through. Friends, family members, colleagues and Internet friends all conveyed their concern in different ways. Many people, I know, felt more worried than I did myself. They reacted to my news in a way that often surprised me. I could see in their faces, their tone of voice and the words they used, that it affected them on an emotional level that I haven’t quite managed to reach myself.

How did I get through it? Simple really. I didn’t get a chance to think about it. It all happened far too quickly. Over the coming days and weeks, maybe I’ll have more time on my hands to consider how this little soupçon of mortality has affected me. I’m beginning to appreciate that my time on this incredible planet, with all its fascinating fellow travellers and its sights, sounds and stories, is very brief indeed.

First the good news – I’ve just been informed that I have graduated with first class honours from my Masters degree course. Both my thesis and course work seem to have made an impression. I’m pretty delighted about it. It was a lot of hard work for me, often in more than trying circumstances, so I feel a genuine sense of achievement in having managed to get this result.

Now the bad news. My mother-in-law is unwell. Very unwell. It’s likely that she will be spending a lot of time in hospital over the coming months with a very uncertain outcome in prospect. She has been an incredibly warm, caring, supportive and strong figure within the whole extended family. She has touched the lives of so many people, I struggle to know where to begin. I really wish her the best in the time ahead.

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