I learned a long time ago that family doesn’t have to mean blood. Without the bloodline, people can enter your life and end up extensions of your family – literally and in other ways too – to the extent that they become so familiar and so important that it becomes impossible to even consider them not being around.
When my sister Anna began dating her now husband Kieran almost 33 years ago, he and I hit it off immediately. An entire other article could and someday will be devoted to the adventures and misadventures we’ve encountered together since. And that’s without delving into the Meath-Dublin rivalry.
However, today there’s only one thing requiring mention. The numerous weekends over about a six year period when I would visit Kieran’s parents, Lily and Denis in their home nearly every Saturday. With eternal gratitude and deep sadness are such simple yet cherished times recalled following Lily’s unexpected but peaceful passing yesterday morning.
Whether it was the instantly warm welcome from the first time Kieran carried me in their front door (to watch a Manchester United-Leeds United FA Cup encounter), or letting me take over their big couch on a Saturday or the home cooked quarter pounder and chips on a Saturday evening, the signposts were instant and unending that these were special people whom one has been truly blessed to cross paths with.
Of course, it wasn’t just Kieran, Lily and Denis that became huge parts of our circle, but his brother Pat and sister Liz – and in time their families – and even old Prince the dog had huge impacts on my life too. The madra was one of the cleverest the one seeing eye here has ever encountered – barking at the sink when he was thirsty or at the back door if he needed to jettison fluid.
Put simply, it would be simply impossible to spend time in Pat Farrell’s company and not have your spirits immeasureably lifted, simply by him being himself – mad!
For very special and personal reasons, I will forever be grateful to Liz for, well, putting me back together when I became a blubbering mess the day Anna and Kieran got married.
When thinking of and remembering loved ones we’ve lost, it is often the simplest things which stop us in our tracks. Upon hearing of Lily’s passing, the first thing that came back to mind were the television programmes. Allow me to explain. At the time, we only had RTE One and Two at home. So being able to watch stuff on the ‘other’ channels was like letting a kid loose in a sweet shop. Thus began my love affair with the likes of Grandstand, Match Of The Day, The Morning Line/Channel 4 Racing, Noel Edmonds’ House Party and the one for which greatest and never ending affinity was developed in this seat, Dad’s Army was new and glorious territory.
Life’s wheels have ways of turning that we perhaps are never meant to understand. Denis and Lily first met ma and da at the funeral of da’s brother Tom. Thirty years later, the last time I was in their company together was at da’s funeral. Now, just as in the photograph above, they are side by side once more.
He’ll plant and look after the flowers and Lily, you can arrange them. May your kind and caring soul Rest In Peace.