Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Routine, routine and then some more routine

Sunday evening and peace has settled on the little house in Ballyseede. The children are fed and the adults are relaxing. Lisa is looking regal under a blanket, drinking a cup of tea whilst reading her kindle. The kindle is resting on an arm of the couch so she has to turn her neck slightly to read, an elegant pose well within her retinue of such. As I say she is also drinking a cup of tea which is being held in one hand, the other hand is holding Freddie’s. Even though he was fighting with her earlier he now loves his Mummy and is happily cuddled up to her. Not that loving his mother was ever in any real doubt…I offered earlier to get a new Mummy, possibly a younger model, but he declined the chance despite his upset. Little boys will always love their Mummies despite the same Mummies forever treating them like little boys. It’s one of those golden rules of life.
Never is Lisa’s love for Freddie more obvious than when he is in the hospital. Last weekend the little man ended up in there again after going down on Saturday afternoon. We held out till seven o’clock but when he had a second seizure in as many hours it was time to head in again. It had been one of those Saturdays’ when all seemed so peaceful and right in the world. Ruby had gone off on the two o’clock bus to Dingle so as to stay overnight with her friend Hannah. The morning had been spent by me doing some food shopping round Tralee and finally getting into a second-hand bookshop I’d spotted a few weeks back. It even had some books I liked and four for €9.00 was excellent value. So with Ruby gone and all my jobs done I settled onto the couch to watch The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Stretching out I was almost falling asleep myself when that horrible sound came from Fred’s chair. He woke up soon afterwards and was ok for a while but fell asleep again only for another seizure to hit him. The call to the children’s ward was made and we headed over whilst they got his bed ready. It all seems so routine now unfortunately. We drive up to the door of A&E and Lisa and Freddie get out, Lisa carrying him into the hospital. After turning I head over to the car park, take the ticket, park as close as possible to the main building and head back in with all the bags. This time Lisa and Freddie were in A&E for assessment so I brought his gear straight to the ward. The usual line of warm, welcoming smiles greeted my sad appearance and Nurse Sinead showed me the prepared room. It looked so nice with the blinds down, the lights dimmed and the heating on. Not waiting around I dropped the bags and headed back to A&E. The two were in a cubicle with the line already in Freddie’s arm. After a while Freddie was sitting up, looking around saying he was bored and eating an apple. The doctors and nurses were amazed at his powers of recovery; he’d had another seizure whilst I’d been upstairs. During all this Lisa was with him, in control and doing what a mother does. While we were awaiting the all clear to go up to the ward, there was a delay due to a changeover in shifts, a large man probably in his mid-thirties was wheeled in to the cubicle beside us. He was followed by a much older woman who I could only assume was his mother. She was carrying a litre bottle of seven-up in one hand and a half empty small bottle of water in the other. As the doctors were taking his history the mother opened the seven-up and poured some into the smaller bottle. The clear liquid which I thought was water obviously wasn’t, she was self-medicating and not shy of showing it either.
After eight the porter came and wheeled Freddie up to the ward. Nurse Marie who always seems to be on duty the nights we’re in was there to welcome us. This is a bit of a running joke now and I just shook my head at her when we came through the wide doors of the ward. Soon the two were settled and I was sent home. “I’ll look after them” Marie said to me as I left and I knew she would.
The next morning I got up at seven, made the flask of coffee and headed over to the hospital. Never knowing what I’m going to find the walk from the car-park to the ward can never go quickly enough. The two were fast asleep when I opened the door of the room. I had an idea from the smile Marie gave me from behind her desk that it hadn’t been too bad a night and compared to some he’d put down it wasn’t. Around midnight he’d had three in a row and the Lorazapem was given. This is an IV anti-seizure drug which knocks him for days afterwards. We had the fresh coffee and Lisa headed home to freshen up. As I’ve said before it’s all so routine now. The day was spent in the hospital and I headed away at four to collect Ruby from the bus and to cook dinner for us two.  At seven I headed back over to find the two asleep again. Freddie had been knocked out since lunchtime and an uneaten dinner was on the table. An unusual sight when Freddie is around. Lisa sent me home at eight, the loving mother settled in for the night again.
Monday morning at seven thirty Ruby and I stop over on our way to Dingle. The two are up watching DVD’s and all is well in the world again. The consultant sends them home that morning, so Ruby and I come back to a happy house in the evening. These hospital visits have become routine but are yet a necessary inconvenience in my family’s life at the moment.
This evening, a week later, it seems a long time ago and there have been plenty of fights since but much, much more love……
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Haircuts, hairshirts and bribery

Evening in Ballyseede on the third Monday in January. Apparently this is blue Monday, the worst one of the year when all the bills come in, visa cards are due and pay day is another week away. This year’s colour was changed to black because the gloom of recession is hanging over us again. Where have these people been living for the last few years? Monday was always a blue one for most and the Sunday night gloom, the dread of Monday has been hanging over me since I started school back in Norwood forty years ago, the same for most people no doubt.
Well this Monday night sees the family back to the usual routine now that Christmas has been consigned to last year. Freddie is under a duvet watching the Jungle Book, laughing his newly hair-cutted head off at the funny bits, not quite getting his tongue around the song lyrics. Ruby is upstairs looking at herself in the mirror and her mother is bedside me reading her kindle. A big change from my childhood. At this stage my father would have settled in for the night watching whatever was on the one channel TV available. At Freddie’s age I would have been readying myself for bed and by the time I reached Ruby’s age I would have been upstairs in my room, doing ‘homework’. In other words the front room was my father’s kingdom, his place of rest after a day at the office and we weren’t to disturb him. It wasn’t said but that was the way it was, the way he orchestrated it, either you were in bed or studying. No doubt it wasn’t planned but the age gap between the three children meant a seamless transition from early bedtime to study time as we grew up and by eight each night he had the front room to himself. Dad never went out after my mother died, dedicating his time to the family, doing no doubt what he thought was right. Never went to the pub, cinema or visited friends and even going to his beloved rugby matches he brought me along. Unfortunately this had knock-on effects for him, not getting a break from either family or work, isolating him as an adult. It can’t be good for an adult to isolate themselves in such a way no matter what the good intentions. Of course it was great for me as a child knowing he was always there, which I’m sure was his intent, but in my teens we could have done with a break from each other. Fortunately though that he did take me to rugby matches as I’m one of the few who actually was in Thomond Park on Tuesday 31st October 1978. Now that he’s gone the tickets with his script on the back giving the historic score are all I have to prove it.
 Hopefully our front room here is more of a family one; teenage tantrums and children fighting aside. One day recently Freddie called me in to say: “Ruby told me to shut the fuck up.” All I could do was turn and leave before breaking into tears of laughter.
Now that the evenings have begun to stretch, a tiny bit maybe, but they are brighter nonetheless, the drive home is improving. Ruby has begun to bring earphones so she listens to her music and me to my radio. Have to admit that as soon as she came in the door this evening I shut shop and we headed off. The luxury of going home at four was only gorgeous but a bad habit to slip into….This is her second week back and my third. The first week without her in the car was a lonely one and didn’t feel like a proper time at work or at least not a normal one. Even though we go long stretches of the road without talking, especially now that she has the earphones, we chat at intervals and her presence fills the car. We tend to stop for shopping either in Dingle or Tralee and she always manages to wrangle something out of me. Today’s list includes two pairs of tights, a bag of mixed sweets, twiglets and frozen pizza for dinner. Looks bad when I write it out like that.
Today we came home to Freddie with a haircut, his first in ages and it makes him look quite the young man. He’d refused it for ages claiming that he hated the cut hair down the back of his neck. So there he was being praised for eventually doing the deed and being complimented on how nice he looked, sitting in his throne soaking it all up. Then he went behind the curtain and brought out his new toy, gotten today after the haircut…..His mother had bribed him.
Now its 8.30 and he’s sitting up with it in his hands…oh how things have changed.
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