Love is All Around

I have been incommunicado as I left my mobile phone behind in Mum’s kitchen, in our hurry to get out of the door on Saturday morning to catch our flight to Ireland. I only realised that I did not have it once I was through security and so there it stayed for a few days and I was phone-less. At first it made me anxious to be out of contact, but once I had called Joshua’s respite provision, where he spent the weekend, and told them to use my husband’s number in emergencies, I relaxed and enjoyed the freedom from technology, although I had to ask the rest of the party to take photographs for me.

As expected, my hand luggage, containing Mum’s ashes was pulled over at security but I showed them her death certificate as advised, and we were waved on through. That delay took up all of our browsing time so it was straight into the airplane and on with the 45 minute flight. It was very straightforward through our arrival airport, we were soon in our hire car and on our way for our family adventure with me driving, my husband beside me and my sister and niece in the back of the car. In less than an hour we arrived at our first stop, the town where my Grandpa built his own home as a batchelor and GP surgery ,  and where Mum grew up with her three sisters. Sadly the old house is now derelict and the land has been sold for a housing development, so it was barricaded off. However we found a gap and a way in and my sister and I had a trip down memory lane as we explored the garden where we once played on our regular childhood visits and we recalled the grand rooms. You could still see what a beautiful house it had once been and we shared memories with each other. After a brunch, a walk around a community walled garden, a visit to weed Mum’s parents grave and an ice cream, we continued on our way to the republic of Ireland, where we were staying with Mum’s older sister at their home on the coast.

They live in the most beautiful area with stunning sea views. My Grandpa had bought a derelict large house in 1949 to have as a  family holiday home – Granny was very cross with him at the time. But the year later they converted into a hotel and we used to stay every Easter and for family parties, so it is a very special place for us and Mum adored it, coming every year to stay with her sister at their home once they retired from their career in hospitality. They were excellent hosts and greeted us with tea and home made cake as soon as we arrived, then we walked down through the garden to the beach below. My husband and I swam in the sea – this is after all where I learned to swim many years ago – then we took a walk along the sand, peeping through the trees at the hotel, now returned to being a holiday home for a very lucky family.  We enjoyed a lovely evening catching up on family news while drinking wine.

Sunday was the day that we had agreed to scatter Mum’s ashes, alongside Dad’s and we took our opportunity once there was a lull in the rain and once Mum’s youngest sister had joined us. We gathered around two special places, under a tree where cyclamen grew and in a wild flower area that my Aunt had planted. We each took turns to scatter some ashes and think our own thoughts, then wept that Mum was not with us to enjoy this family gathering, but her ashes are in a stunning place that she would have certainly have approved of.

Just at the right moment, my cousin and his wife and young family arrived to lift our spirits and soon my husband was playing football in the garden with his twin boys , while we looked on with a glass of bubbly. We shared the most delicious roast Sunday lunch together and then played a lip reading game that we had bought for the boys – it was an important tradition to bring them a small gift as Mum used to do. As it drizzled, the sporty boys commandeered my husband for a game of darts indoors rather than more football and he was glad of the less energetic game after a large lunch. The day visitors left with hugs and kisses and after a lot of love and memories of Mum were shared, and I enjoyed a siesta before another evening beach walk.

After breakfast yesterday, we packed up and said our goodbyes to our generous hosts, promising to return before too long. We made a couple of stops on the way back to the airport but were in good time for our afternoon flight back. It was the most perfect weekend to remember Mum and everything that she held dear : family, gardens, good food and her Irish heritage, so it could not have gone better. We are really grateful to those who made it possible : to our Aunt and Uncle who took such great care of us, to Yorkshire Grandma who moved into our home to take care of the dogs and to Joshua’s respite provision who took great care of him, allowing us to go and focus on each other and on Mum, without any distractions. It was almost perfect, the only negative was that Mum was not there physically with us, as she would have loved the trip, but I know she was there with us in spirit and that she would definitely have approved.

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