Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


The Easter Bunny, Wild Garlic Pesto and The Special Bus

Freddie starting talking about the Easter bunny this week. I don’t know why,  I can’t remember it being mentioned it before and the only time Ruby had an interest was when the wonderful Lorna Swain used to do an annual  egg hunt, many years ago.  The origin of the Easter bunny, I looked it up, seems to lie with German Protestants, which would explain why he didn’t figure much in my own childhood.  What I do remember was the line of Easter eggs on top of the piano, and me waiting for Easter Sunday, so I could break my Lenten fast. Eggs would be sent out from Granny and other relations in Cobh plus the one my father would get in Cork. They were then put on display, laid out, tempting me for the week before the big day.  The smell of chocolate still brings back memories of walking into that room during those days before Easter.

It’s a mark of Fred’s innocence that he chose to believe in the bunny. But also it’s a sign of how, when he gets something in his head, that he just can’t let it go. Whatever the current obsession is, he’ll go on about for ages and ages and ages. Usually until he drives his mother to breaking point. Sometimes he gets two obsessions going at a time and we have to threaten one never happening to get him to stop talking about the other one...

If you were outside our house during the week you’d probably have heard lines like...

“If you don’t stop talking about the Easter bunny there will be no metal detector...”


“If you don’t stop going on about that metal detector there’ll be no Easter bunny...”

If Lisa was the one saying them you could probably insert a few expletives as well.

The metal detector obsession is my fault. Fred likes nothing better than going through catalogues and I got him one from Argos this week. He couldn’t go to bed without his “magazine” and he’d sit up looking at what he wants to get. I always wanted a metal detector too so maybe when all this is behind us the two men in the house might get a treat.

For the meantime he’ll have to be happy with the picture but at least he got an Easter egg. From the moment he woke up this morning he was looking out the window, under the bed, in the cupboard. He nearly walked into the wall on the way out of the bedroom because he was looking over his shoulder to see if he’d missed anything. In the kitchen downstairs he was looking everywhere and I could see him getting more and more anxious. Then I pointed to a bag on top of the cupboards and the look of excitement was only wonderful.

“Jesus Christ,” he said looking into the bag, Freddie appropriately mixing religion with commercialism for the day that was in it.

All this has come at the end of a busy week for us.

On Tuesday Fred had an appointment at Temple Street. This is part of the assessments that are needed, so we know where he is with regards to returning to school and also what the effects of any possible surgery may be. There will a few of these over the coming months and it’s all part of getting Fred back into normal life, whether normal life is ready for our Fred is another question again.

As the appointment was on Tuesday morning, we headed up on Monday evening and stayed with Conor and Cathy. This was a major thing for all of us. We’d stayed in a hotel the last time and this was Fred’s first time staying in another house for maybe four years. Plus he loves Conor and Cathy and has being asking to go stay with them for a while now. Another of his obsessions. Heading off on Monday afternoon the car was so loaded down with homemade breads, cakes, beer, and wines, not to mention the wild garlic pesto and Lisa’s dill mayonnaise made from scratch, that you’d think Dublin hadn’t seen a food parcel since the lockout of 1913. It all added to the excitement for Fred and he was happy in back under his blankets. He never snoozes on these trips, just so happy to be looking out at the passing countryside and asking where are we now? Ruby sat beside me, iPod on and slept for a lot of the journey. Lisa was under her blanket reading her Kindle.

At Inchicore we had a ball. Fred had Conor all to himself, telling him stories and getting him to watch his Ben10 DVDs.  We were all having fun in reality. Lisa and I were relaxed, someway, leaving Freddie do his thing and not having to sit with him all the time. The wine flowed and the laughter could be heard back in Slea Head. There were stories told and embarrassing memories dug up, all mixed with a bit of sadness that we haven’t been able to do such things in a long while.  Lisa and Cathy were reminded how lucky they were to have landed Conor and me, as we were the kings of the Hillgrove dancefloor circa 1995.

When Freddie and I went off to bed about 10pm we were both knackered. Cathy got a hug and a kiss goodnight from Fred after she made him comfortable in the bed. The two of us chatted for a while, Fred looked out the window and I started to read...



“Can we stay in Dublin for a long time?” he asked.

Fred loves the fun more than any of us.

The assessment went really well. Lisa and I were worried, as he seemed very dopey that morning but at lunchtime , Cathy, the neuropsychologist, said she was very happy with him, that he was very alert. That little man, you just never know where you are with him.

As Lisa and Ruby had gone off shopping, Freddie and I went for lunch together in the hospital cafe. Cathy wanted another session with him in the afternoon. The cafe in Temple Street is in the basement and is very good. The two of us went down in the lift, queued up and sat down at a table on our own. As I told Cathy afterwards it was probably the first time Fred and I had gone out for lunch together in about five years. Thankfully it all went smoothly, another step in us getting a normal life back. On our way back up we met Dr Shahwan and I gave him an update on Fred’s progress.


As always with epilepsy it’s never too far away.

We got home safely on Tuesday and got back to our usual lives on Wednesday. As I came in the door about five o’clock I could see Lisa lying an unconscious Fred out on the couch. He’d gone out in the garden with his paintbrush to brush down the rocks and find some dinosaur fossils. Jurassic Park is a big influence in Fred’s life, in fact combined with Jaws, Steven Spielberg must be Freddie’s favourite director. The little man wasn’t outside more than a couple of minutes before he went into a seizure, exactly seven days since the yoga incident.

Another night of Freddie watching was ahead of us. Remarkably however he woke up within the hour and carried on as if nothing had happened. Fred had dinner, watched a movie and went off to bed as usual. What a relief for us. Whether this is a new routine or not we don’t know, but it probably isn’t, unfortunately.  At one stage during the night he asked “what happened to me, Mummy?” Poor little man just hates those seizures.

The rest of our week went peacefully, incredibly so since Ruby has been around all day and Fred usually sees this as a good chance of starting a row. He likes to start a row and then blame Ruby or his mother for everything, looking at me with a pleading innocence that would soften the hardest heart.

Just now I had to break up a row in the kitchen. Lisa trying to keep him away from the fridge had to threaten with calling the special bus. The one that takes naughty boys away, I used to be threatened with Upton Industrial School so maybe just a bus is an improvement...

As I reasoned with Fred and used my cross eyes, Lisa went inside. After Fred calmed down, he followed her. I watched him go; he took Lisa’s phone and hid it under a load of cushions.

He wasn’t taking any chances on that special bus not working Easter Sunday...






Posted by John Verling

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