It’s exactly one year ago today by date that I got the phonecall to say my Dad had been taken into hospital with a sore side – a suspected pulled muscle. Because he had a history of heart problems he was admitted as a precaution. But his ECG was good so there was no real need for serious worry.
I was sat outside a coffee shop in Playa de la Cruz on Tenerife with my sister and sister-in-law. We had just been to mass at 8am. That entire morning was very surreal. Not our usual routine on holiday. But looking back, it was special. My son telephoned me to say Granda was going to hospital and he was going with his granny for company.
Although we were not overly concerned, my gut told me that morning that life was changing. I knew in my heart of hearts something was seriously wrong. As I travelled home a few days later, nothing prepared me for the eight weeks that would follow and result in Dad’s death. But no matter how hard the memory is, the good memories by far outweigh the bad.
Some of the best memories I have are remembering my Dad as Grandad to my three boys. He was their idol, and they were his. My best way of describing their relationship is telling of my Dads daily visits over the years. Dad came to my house every single day. And not once, but twice, sometimes three times. From my boys were little, it was Dad’s visits that I got to see my boys all in one room.
I live in a small end of terrace house. When the boys were little, they would be playing in their room upstairs, or outside playing football. As soon as Grandad’s van (recent years his car) pulled up at our gate, my three boys gathered in the living room. They never failed to hear Grandad’s van/car arriving. And they never failed to stop what they were doing and just congregate in the living room. This was routine from they were aged 2 to 22 and beyond. As soon as Granda left, so did they. I wouldn’t see them again until it was feeding time. Such was their determination to spend time with Granda. And that never wavered.
As they got older and left home, it was Granda who would collect them off the bus on a Friday night. It was Granda who would drop them to the bus on Sunday evening. Granda was such an important figure in their lives. For that I will be eternally grateful. They loved him like no other. As I did too.
My saddest memory of Dad’s death was on the morning of his funeral, my eldsest son saying goodbye to him. It broke my heart. But it also cemented my pride in the relationship they all had with him. Now it’s my turn to take on the grandparent role. I have very big boots to fill and follow.
Much as my heart still breaks each day as I awake, it is now filled with a love and a wonder I never thought would be there again. Just over one week ago, Little Miss Ailbhe came into my life. My middle son and his girlfriend brought new life into the world. Little Miss Ailbhe has no idea how she has already brightened up my life. My Dad would be the proudest Great Granda if he were alive. He would be so proud of these two young folk and he would absolutely adore the delightful LIttle Miss Ailbhe.
When I was told that this new life was coming I was excited and it allowed me to hope. But nothing prepared me for how it would piece together little bits of my heart that were totally broken. My heart will never be totally whole again, but Little Miss Ailbhe has healed it to such an extent I never thought possible. She has allowed light into darkness, and she has given me hope in a way I never thought possible. Loving her is easy. She’s adorable. But loving life is made doable again. Life really is a circle and it keeps on going. My circle of life has begun once more, and Little Miss Ailbhe is at its centre.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. But new life brings a joy, that no one can steal. I’m still finding it surreal the joy that Little Miss Ailbhe has brought to my life, but it is there, and it really is a healing and it is hope.
Dad will never be forgotten and the heartache will remain. But this little lady allows me to hope for the future and to live life to the fullest again. My tears will flow, but my smiles will be bright. Little Miss Ailbhe, you are loved more than you will ever know, and you have helped mend a shattered heart. Your Great Granda would be so utterly proud of you. I hope I can be a fraction of the grandparent he was, and play a part in your life as he did in your Daddy’s and in mine. Little Miss Ailbhe, here’s looking at you kid. xx