Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Our Busy Week

This morning Fred and I are alone in the kitchen. Ruby is still in bed and Lisa is out since sunrise. All that can be heard is the whirring of Fred’s remote control car as it flies around the kitchen. An early Christmas present, one opened before the 25th to be more precise, from his Auntie Ella and family. Fred mastered the controls easily enough and he had it doing backward donuts in no time. Like all boys, he’s now experimenting with what happens when it shoots off shelves or crashes head on into the skirting board. With my father’s voice in my head, I’m telling him that he won’t have it for long if he keeps smashing it around…”ok my Dad,” is Fred’s answer which of course melts my heart every time.

It has been a busy week for us.

On Monday Fred was back at school; the look on Denise’s face when she saw him come in the door was full of concern but also relief that he was ok. As she’d been the one with him when he’d gone down on Friday, we were worried how she would be. But, true to form, she was more worried about Fred. We talked for a bit and she spoke of how it was only later in the day the shock of what happened had hit her. This is a perfectly typical reaction and it helps us all get through a seizure, by concentrating on Fred. While none of us wants Fred to have a seizure, at least we now know that he’s in good hands if he has one at school.

Tuesday was a day of moving. Since we came to Tralee a lot of our furniture has been in storage in Annascaul. The longer it was there the bigger the effort to move it became in our heads. We’ve had a few plans in the past but never got round to doing it. So on Monday I rang Hannah’s Dad, Jim, and the next day was the only free one the two of us had that week. All Tuesday we worked on clearing the lock-up, shifting couches upstairs, dressers into the kitchen and cabinets into the front room. By the evening time the house was transformed into a home, all our possessions around us and ready for Christmas. Fred was delighted with the activity and took time to sit in the new chairs, to see which one suited. Of course he got confusion during the activity and slept for the afternoon while we worked around him.

That morning he’d had choir practice and had gone to the church in the bus, excitement enough. Lisa had followed behind. As it was her house that Jim and I were bringing all the furniture into, she was anxious to come back, to ‘supervise.’ Fred wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to stay with his friends, singing in the church. So after the two fighters came back, Lisa stayed with Jim while Fred and I headed back over to St John’s. When we walked in one of his classmates turned round and when he saw it was Fred he quickly told the others. All their little heads turned with welcoming smiles and Fred walked off to join them. Those welcoming smiles will stay with me forever, one of my best Christmas presents. Fred is in a good place with those Blennerville kids.

For the practice all the kids were lined up on the raised altar, Fred in a chair with Denise on one side and Jayden on the other. After a while one of the kids fainted, it took a few seconds for me to realise that for once Fred wasn’t the kid in trouble. He is usually the one to go down as if picked out by a sniper’s silent shot. The little girl raised herself up rubbing her head and the teacher got her to a seat. Minimum fuss, no panic and the choir practice continued. They’re made of stern stuff those Blennerville kids. Fred loved the fun in the church and though not the religious type, it did mark the beginning of Christmas for me.

On Thursday, we headed off to Dublin. It was time for the next increase in Fred’s VNS output. Fred didn’t want to go to school as he was going to Dublin but I got him out the door and there in time with the promise he could leave early. Denise dropped him out to me at 11am and we were on the road by 2pm, car packed with goodies for Inchicore. All Fred wanted was an egg salad sandwich from the place in Newcastle West, his latest food fixation. He gets these from time to time, peanut butter on his toast one week, pate the next and at the moment it’s egg salad sandwiches. Since we’ve begun these trips to Temple Street I’ve resisted the temptation of service station delis. On Thursday I decided to get what Fred was getting, just for the fun of it. By the time we were beyond Limerick, I was beginning to regret my weakening and when we got to Dublin, I noticed Fred hadn’t finished his one either. Maybe it was a bad batch…

As always, we had great fun with Conor and Cathy. The tree was up and the house looked gorgeous. Fred was able to show his scars off to Cathy as she’d missed them the last time. That night we had the usual musical beds with Fred undecided where he’d sleep. He began by cuddling up to me in the spare room. About 11pm he decided he’d go down to Mum on the couch and set off with his pillow under his arm By midnight he was back upstairs, pillow under the arm, muttering something about Mummy being an ‘angry lady.’ No doubt the constant shuffling trying to find a comfortable spot on the couch had annoyed his tired mother. Soon I was relegated to the mattress on the floor and Fred fell asleep. Part of his problem was that he’d slept a lot of the journey up so tiredness took a while to find him.

Friday and we were up early, our appointment was at 9am. Everyone was up getting ready for the day and a bleary-eyed Fred walked Conor out to his car, waving him off to school. We said our goodbyes to Cathy and headed over to the hospital. The traffic was with us and we were there before nine. Our appointment was over in a flash; a quick scan of the wand, a beep and the cough was back. Five minutes later Fred coughed again, not quite Marlon Brando, more a Christopher Walken this time. The cough eased off after a while but that Walken strain took over every five minutes and it’s still there this morning. With everything done, we had our favourite breakfast in the hospital canteen and we were back on the motorway by 10am. It seems a bit of a trek for such a small procedure but compared to this time last year it’s only mere inconvenience.

Yesterday, Saturday, Fred and I went off to collect the Christmas tree. On the same weekend a year ago I wouldn’t have dared leave the house with Fred alone. The idea of taking him to a packed, bustling shed with people everywhere just wouldn’t have entered my head. However a year on and that’s exactly what we did. Fred was full of wows at all the trees, holly and even the mistletoe, which I forgot to buy but hopefully Lisa will still remember me Christmas morning…The great achievement of the last year too was that I didn’t even worry when out with Fred, we did our jobs and brought the tree home, in time for the visit of his relations.

That afternoon the two of us drove out to Annascaul to get some more of our leftovers and we had great fun. At every corner Fred saw the sun going down over the hills and behind us the moon was coming up so the excitement was in getting our jobs done before it got dark. Simple fun, which we’ve missed out for a few years now.

For the rest of the day we put up the tree and decorated the house. Lisa with her impeccable taste has the place, our home, looking like a proper Christmas scene, all ready for the big day. When we were going to bed last night Fred said, “I like our house Dad.”

No doubt we have many adventures ahead of us in our little house but for now, our home is ready for Christmas.

Maybe I’ll go get some mistletoe just to be on the safe side…





Posted by John Verling

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