Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


A Five Day Recovery

Yesterday we had Jaden over, again. The two boys, under a blanket, watched Jaws; they had been watching Mr Bean but he must have being getting a bit pedestrian for them. Fred went gone upstairs to get his shark book, just in case Jaden didn’t have enough sharks in his Saturday.

This has been a bit of a tough week for Fred. The bug that hit last Saturday and the subsequent seizure cluster really took it out of him. As it happens, eight kids in his class had the same bug, surprisingly not Jaden, as I was sure he was coming down with it at the weekend. Breakfast on Tuesday was Fred’s first meal since Saturday lunchtime, a long time for our boy to go without food. Maybe he had a bit of chicken on Monday afternoon but it wasn’t much. On Tuesday evening Lisa made his favourite for dinner but that went untouched too. All week he hasn’t had an appetite come dinner time; he’d have his usual breakfast and lunch but no evening meal. Each evening I’ve asked him to come in for dinner but I’m met with a “no thanks.” Later on he’d pick at some toast with chicken...On Thursday he came as far as the kitchen table before saying, “no thank you,” and going back to the front room.

At school the teachers remarked on how out of it Fred was Tuesday and Wednesday. This was obvious to us too. It was difficult to rouse him in the mornings and all day we’d have to almost shake Fred awake to get a response from him. Looking back at it now it must have been a trifecta of the bug, the cluster and having his medicines trying to regain control of his brain. If, as I suspect, the bug caused his levels to drop, then the early days of the week were all about the meds getting back to work. This has happened before, notably after his appendicitis last winter where he went toxic only to be followed by a bad cluster. If you mess around with these meds, you can cause all sorts of problems. That’s why we try to be as regimented about dose times as possible.

Of course Fred’s sleeping pattern was thrown out as well this week. A couple of nights Fred still wasn’t asleep by 11pm which isn’t good. On Thursday he fell asleep on his mother’s shoulder not long after 8pm, just leant in and dropped off. The comfort for a little boy of the scent of his mother must be something else. The flip side was that he woke as I left at 5.30am Friday morning, chatting away as if it was midday. Apparently he fell back to sleep a bit later but with me away he had to go on the Ruby school run with his Mum. Though he did have another nap on the way back from Dingle.

By Thursday he seemed back to normal, something which Denise and Olivia both remarked upon to Lisa. The two “ladies who care for me”, as he described them to Jaden today, noticed how off form Fred was earlier in the week and they were glad to have their boy back to normal on Thursday. Funny Fred can’t really work his charms on Olivia like he could on Elaine last year. If Fred wasn’t feeling too good when with Elaine he’d get the duvet down and the two would cuddle under it while having an easy day of work. With Olivia though it’s all work from the get-go, no slacking and no malingerers tolerated. A bit of a shock for Fred but just what he needs at times. One day he was looking at me as if to say, “Do I have to?” while Olivia was telling him what homework they were going to do. All I could do was smile at his disappointed little face...

“But Ms O’Se,” I heard him say as I closed the kitchen door, “we did that book at school.”

“I know Freddie,” was the answer, “but we’re doing it again now.”

“Oh, all right,” the resigned tone to Fred’s voice telling that he knew resistance was futile.

The welcome home I got each evening I was away this week was just lovely. On Tuesday and Friday I had to make trips to Dublin and apparently Freddie missed his Dad. Friday night as I walked in the door he charged at me with his arms out, nearly knocking me off my feet but enveloping me in the biggest hug ever...

“I missed you,” the little voice said from the squashed face in my tummy, “you were gone forever.”

I remember missing my Dad at the same age, but he’d be gone to New York or San Francisco for a week; all I did was go on a course in Dublin for the day. Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave my man for too long. This morning I had a dream where we lost Freddie when on a day out to a seaside town. We looked everywhere, through all the houses, on the beaches, down the terrace lined streets but no Fred anywhere. Somehow I clicked that I was only dreaming and woke to him lying out on his back, not having a care in the world. Later as we drove over to collect the J man Fred told me he had nice dreams last night, about Godzilla monsters...No doubt Freud would tell us that my dream was a reaction to being away from Fred but what would he say to Fred having nice dreams about Godzilla monsters?

After we collected Jaden the three of us drove off to collect Ruby. She’d been on a night at the cinema in Dingle, followed by the girls getting a Chinese takeaway for the sleepover. Jaden had his tablet with him and the two kept themselves amused while I drove. At Ali’s house I sent the two to collect the girls. Ruby came out laughing. They had the curtains drawn while watching TV. The curtains didn’t reach the floor so all Ali and Ruby saw were two pairs of little feet walking along the path to the front door...the cutest thing ever, the girls thought. Hope the boys can keep the girls saying those sort of things in the future...

Coming down off the Conor Pass Fred said to Jaden...

“Welcome to Dingle,”

To which Jaden replied,

“I’ve been here before Freddie.”

But that didn’t stop Fred giving Jaden the whistle stop tour of all the shops and streets. He also gave Jaden a brief history of our time there and finished it by saying,

“We quit Dingle.”

Just like a rock star on the road, he moved on to Tralee when he’d seen all Dingle had to offer. In truth Fred still wonders if we are moving back one day and often asks if Tralee is our home now or are we going back to Dingle. The move at the time was very sudden. From that afternoon in early August 2011 when he left in an ambulance, I’m not sure if Fred spent more than a couple of nights in Dingle again before we moved to Tralee. A whirlwind at the time and it must be difficult for a young brain to take it all in. When I go back now it seems strange that we no longer live in Dingle and I think Fred feels the same.

On the way home Fred showed Jaden his old school and told him the names of the friends he made when there. The beach where we used to swim was pointed out too...

“That’s the road to Amy’s beach,” Fred said, referring to his friend who lived nearby.

All in all it was great for Fred to be the tour guide, showing his friend where he once lived. Sharing his memories with Jaden probably put a bit of context to Fred’s life for his little friend.

Back home the two played, laughed and Jaden even had a nap. It’s lovely that Jaden can feel relaxed enough with us to take a snooze on the couch. Fred made him comfortable and went back to watching Mr Bean. After dinner Fred and I drove Jaden home, our man nibbling away at the sweets Lisa gave him as he went out the door. He got out, gave me a tired thank you and Fred said goodbye.

On our way home Fred and I drove through the streets of Tralee. Lisa makes fun of me for taking any excuse to drive around town but I love it, you never know what you might see.

As we went through the centre Fred said,

“I like driving around town at night Dad...”

It must be genetic.

Now it’s Sunday morning and I’ve just had to break up a row between Fred on one side with his Mum and Ruby on the other. Fred was just getting going as I came down the stairs but Ruby is a tough opponent, far tougher than the mother. There was also a row with his mother about bedtimes last night. Fred also ate a full dinner with Jaden.

Things are definitely getting back to normal in Ballyard.




Posted by John Verling

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