Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


The Little Black Remote

Sunday afternoon in Ballyard and all is quiet. Freddie the man is watching Wolverine while re-enacting the battles with his toys Thor and some ugly mofo I bought at a Jumble Sale at the beginning of Summer. I just asked Fred who the ugly fellow was and he said… “I dunno, maybe he’s a zombie.”  ‘I dunno’, that answer my father hated to get to any question he asked. I suppose it was the indifference he disliked more than the words themselves, if I answered “I don’t know” it might have been more acceptable. One of my friends once answered him “I dunno, Mr Verling”, it was always Mr Verling with my father, never once insisted on by him but understood by all those of my generation who spoke with him. From that day on, he’d retort “I dunno, Mr Verling” any time I used it. Anyway Freddie’s ‘I dunno, maybe he’s a zombie’ made me laugh and remember.

Now he’s put down the toys and is anxiously searching in the blanket for something…”What are you looking for?” I ask, knowing well the answer, which is… “the little black remote,” the one for the media player, as opposed to “the other black remote” which is the one for the TV. The blanket is being searched, he’s pulling back the cushions, looking behind the couch but to no avail. Just as his grandfather used to do all those years ago and probably what I too do as well. “What is it with the Verling men and remote controls?” Lisa often asks when the two of us boys are pulling the front room apart but maybe with a few stronger words thrown in. It’s all in the genes I always remind her, along with all the other figaries she blames on the Verling blood line…putting her in dread of the rest of our lives together…

Now a plaintive, “Please Daddy, can you find the little black remote” comes from Freddie, getting anxious that it is lost forever. This is after he’s just rearranged the furniture so he can see the TV better, the floor lamp has been pushed aside and the TV dragged to the middle of the room. What will his mother say when she comes back from her coffee break with Fiona? Anyway, the remote has been found, under another blanket on the floor and Wolverine can get on with kicking some ass.

Ruby has just texted to ask to be collected from the top of the road. She’s on her way back from the football trip toGalwayand no doubt laden down with bags. The itinerary which read hotel, match, swim, meal, cinema etc had only two hours for shopping and that two hours would have been the focus of my darling daughter’s weekend away. A consequence of the other bloodline…at least Freddie’s obsession with remotes doesn’t cost me any money!

The week gone by has been one of mixed emotions. Still no news on the PET scan and it’s the middle day of the month, we were told Thursday that there would be a meeting on Friday morning of the team involved but we never got an update Friday evening. Maybe the meeting never happened or the good news is in the post, at least we could have been told, more calls will be made tomorrow….

Freddie is look around him again…the little black remote has been misplaced…again.

On Monday morning after getting up Fred had two small frontal lobe seizures, the ones that don’t develop into full seizures and what Freddie calls ‘a big fright.’ As Lisa didn’t want the big one to break through or for him to go through the day falling over she gave him a shot of diazepam, an attempt to keep the epilepsy at bay. As a result, I came down to that dreaded quiet and Freddie asleep on the couch in his mother’s arms. Just what we need on Monday morning, a lovely start to the week. After breakfast and some long goodbyes, Ruby and I set off for Dingle. While all this has become routine now, Ruby and I leaving Lisa behind with Freddie asleep, it still doesn’t lessen the heartbreak of it all. The only consolation for me is that it’s a lot better than last autumn when we’d be leaving them behind in the hospital.

After dropping Ruby at school, I parked up and called home. He was sleeping peacefully, a relief, maybe the meds were controlling things again. Around mid morning he woke, looking to get sick. Its something he quite often feels after seizure activity along with a headache. These things do take it out of him. After a visit to the bathroom and dose of paralink, he continued his snoozing. At lunchtime he woke, hungry as usual and demanded a big breakfast, always a good sign with Freddie. When I called he was digging into a plate of scrambled egg, rashers and toast. Our man has amazing powers of recovery, part of all the amazing things about him.

Our week continued as ever. Freddie was quite good at doing his homework and the other school jobs he has to do. The medicines have given him a bit of a break, allowing his cognitive skills take over for a change, letting him read, write and speak a bit better whilst not giving him the yips. A welcome change there too. He now has speech therapy classes on a Wednesday to help him catch up with the setbacks of the last few years. This week was his best yet, I was told. We still haven’t managed to get him back to school, he’s been too fragile for the journey out to Dingle or so we fear.

Maybe this week…

Lisa has been dealing with his SNA teacher the last few days. Muinteoir Una is determined to get Freddie’s education sorted and to get him the best care available. Once again the love other people are showing to our Fred is breaking our hearts. Lisa’s phone will probably start failing due to moisture damage, the amount of tears she’s shed over the little man this week.


On Thursday afternoon Fred started with the yips again and had a couple of ‘frights’ so Lisa took some pre-emptive action with the Diazepam. When Ruby and I got home, he was up eating dinner but still showing signs of being groggy from the activity. He sat in my arms for the rest of the evening, me dozing, as I tend to do as the week develops. About eight o’clock I felt him moving and a clicking on the shelf beside the couch, his glasses being put away for the night. Soon he was fast asleep, the two men of the house dozing while the women did their things. He didn’t wake again and the two of us went off to bed about eleven. About 5.30am he had a frontal lobe seizure, waking me from the light sleep I have on such nights. Another struck ten minutes later and I gave Lisa a shout. We gave him a shot of Diazepam and I went downstairs to try finishing my sleep before going to work. No sooner than I’d dropped off did Freddie appear, looking for breakfast. 7am, time to get up and start the day.

The day went smoothly and so has the weekend so far…Ruby is due home soon and the family will be back together, a precious Sunday evening before the outside world kicks in again tomorrow morning.

Lisa has just come back from her coffee afternoon.

Freddie couldn’t find the little black remote as she came in and was looking for it again….one guess whose family genetics got the blame?


Posted by John Verling

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