Oh My Papa


Christy Keeley April 1930 -  Feb 2014
Christy Keeley April 1930 – Mar 2014

On Monday 3rd my dad breathed his last after almost 84 years. He’d been unwell for a couple of months and just 2 weeks ago moved into a great nursing home, with staff who were very caring of him and us.

In some ways I lost my Dad in 1985 when I was 13. He was knocked down by a car and sustained a massive head injury which he battled with until he died. I know my mam found it very hard at times. Over the years he came back to us a little – he certainly didn’t lose his sense of humour or his love of a drink and a sing song. Thankfully, we had lots of moments where his real personality got out in front of the struggles he had with mental health. He had a great ability to tell a story you’d already heard (more than once) and still make you laugh. He had an endless supply of songs and energy to sing them. And the combination of his and mam’s love of music and parties, and just being together was passed on to us.

At the funeral last week, my brother mentioned that we had trouble keeping up with him. We really did! Right up to the last couple of months he was constantly on the go. And right up to the last few days he had great intentions to keep going.

He loved Christmas. No really… he LOVED Christmas. And he was always prepared well in advance. Another trait he passed on. One of my abiding memories of him is his work ethic. I used to say that my leg would have to fall off before he’d let me take a day off school. And even then he’d ask if I could carry it!

I’m still in shock to be honest and have all the usual ‘why didn’t I…?’ questions rolling around my head. But although we spent a lot of time worrying about him, he was as happy as larry most of the time. So I’m going to remember his life and sense of humour. His hilarious stories and comprehensive Christmas card list. His lively singing voice and charming smile.

“No better man” was a phrase he used a lot. But I love that he didn’t only use it about himself. “No better man” and “No better girl” was a compliment given to us all at one stage or another. He didn’t mind sharing the title.

I’m sorry I never got to talk to him about my book. He did talk to others about it and was surprised that I was able to write so many stories. When that report came back to me I was laughing & thinking… “eh hello… and where did I get that from do you think???”
But I did find his copy of my book with a little note on it and like most things after the owner is gone – it’s all the more precious.

No better endorsement :)
No better endorsement 🙂

This weekend we’ll be thinking of him and my mam as it is her 9th anniversary. It’s a strange thing to have no parents any more. But I’m so blessed to have had them both as my parents. And I know my family feel the same. 

On the loss of a dear friend, Tom O’Gorman


One of the photos on Tom's FB wall.  It means 'Love conquers all'
One of the photos on Tom’s FB wall.
It means ‘Love conquers all’

I wish I was writing this on my fiction blog. A tale that I made up in a mad creative moment. But no… it really happened. The life of my lovely friend Tom was taken in a way which I can hardly believe and certainly cannot put here.

I met Tom on Independence Day 2012. Though we’d had a bit of Facebook banter before then. We met to help our mutual American friend, far from home, celebrate the 4th of July. Within a few minutes we were slagging each, other which for me is always a good sign. 🙂 I’d travelled on public transport that night and there was no way he would let me walk across town to the Luas stop on my own. He took an alternative (and convoluted) route home so that he could walk with me. He was a total gentleman – in every sense.

He had many interests – politics, faith, ethics, law, history and sport to name a few. He was way cleverer than me and though we talked about faith and work a lot, most of the time we laughed and joked. He had such a fantastic sense of humour. He was a great writer and told me that he would love to try his hand at writing comedy. He thought I was funny too – not a comedienne though… he said I was more a humourist. I liked that 🙂 He thought I was funnier in person than on paper though. So we decided that we’d give it a go and write a comedy sketch together.  Sadly we never got around to it.

Over the last few months I could sense a deepening in his devotion to God and when we talked, it was more and more about spiritual matters. He was eager to serve God more and better and he shared with me some of his hopes and plans for the next few years. It is painful to think they will not come to pass. He became like a big brother figure in my life. Checking in with me regularly, asking me how I was. Always promising to pray for me, which I’m sure he did.

Tom had many many friends. Most of them knew him longer and I’m sure better than me. But over the last 18 months we became great buddies. Or ‘budsos’ as we called each other.

Tom had an amazing range of accents and was even better at the ‘Tallaght’ accent than I was.  Our parting greeting was usually in ‘Tallafornian’.
He’d always say something along the lines of…

“See ya soon bud yeah?”

My answer always was – and is today, “Deffo!”

*****

My sincere condolences and prayers go to his family, work colleagues, friends and all who mourn the loss of such a great guy

Tom RIP

I hope the folk from Pro Life Campaign Ireland don’t mind that I used this lovely photo of Tom that they posted on FB yesterday…

Five Minute Friday – She


It’s time for Five Minute Friday… five minutes of unedited, non stop writing on this week’s given theme ‘She’

The first thing that came to mind when I saw this week’s prompt – ‘She’ – was the question,

“Who’s she? The cat’s mother?”

my mammy
my mammy

This was something that was asked, or I suppose, ‘demanded’ when as a child if I referred to someone as ‘she’. I never understood why it was rude. I just knew that it was.

I’m actually quite surprised at how that has brought back a flood of memories about my mammy. She obviously learned her manners from her own mother; who was herself a very quick to point out if I said anything wrong…

I remember clearly trying to shake off the rules of behaviour and propriety that they that they tried to teach me. If I wasn’t nice to someone, or didn’t wait my turn, or even complained when I was asked to do something… I’d be in big trouble. And I hated it. I hated having to be generous other people’s kids. I hated having to share stuff. I hated having to be nice to older people who weren’t very nice to me when she wasn’t around. Even if I told her that, it didn’t matter. I remember the day she told me that I still had to be nice when someone else wasn’t. I only understood that as an adult.

I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to every word she said but I am grateful to her for every effort she made to encourage me to be a better person.

Who’s she? She’s my mammy 🙂

Click the image to find about more about Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday

10 Day You Challenge, Day 2 – 9 Loves


Day 2 of the ’10 Day You Challenge’ & I’m doing this on the iPhone because the Wi-Fi where I’m staying is a bit dodgy… 😉 so… it’ll be short & pics will have to wait til tomorrow!

10-days-you-challenge2 copy

Today – 9 loves… 😉

1. Chocolate
Love is not a strong enough word. Yes it’s bad for me… Yes it’s just sweetened cocoa… I don’t care 😉

2. The West Wing
The box set is a treasured possession!
Don’t agree with everything (obvs) but well made, well written and well acted. Can’t say that about everything on TV these days.

3. Being the ‘baby’ of 8
Having a troop of older siblings is more than a bit brillo.

4. Social Media
Twitter, Facebook & even Pinterest lately. Love it & many folk I’ve met through it

5. Reading
Books books and more books… gimme gimme gimme 🙂

6. Writing
My new found love.
What did I ever do before I was writing?

7. My 27 nieces & nephews
I never had babies of my own, so these kids, and their kids – are my kids 😉
So proud of them all x

8. Richard Miles
A patient man who loves me more than I deserve 🙂 x

9. God
What can I say? God is very faithful and merciful to me and I wish my life did more justice to the salvation the death & resurrection of Jesus achieved for me.
Also love that I am loved… by Him!

Ephesians 3:18,19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge

Photo credit: The image above doesn’t seem to come from any central website but can be found on many that have done the challenge. Many use it but there does not seem to be any original source info available

Five Minute Friday – Last


Here we go with this week’s Five Minute Friday… five minutes of unedited, non stop writing on this week’s given theme ‘Last’

Being the youngest of 8 children isn’t so bad. And I challenge anyone to hold the title of ‘baby of the family’ as long as I did, with oodles of nieces and nephews arriving hot on my heels. (The first one when I was 2½!)

Now that I am a mature adult (*coughs) I try to balance the ‘kid sister’ thing (cos let’s face it, it comes in handy the odd time) with the equal family member with all associated privileges, rights and responsibilities. 🙂

Me with my husband, parents & 8 older siblings on my wedding day 19th August 2000
Me with my husband, parents & 7 older siblings on my wedding day 19th August 2000

There is one striking memory I have of being last; one of those bitter-sweet ones.
It was when my mother had died and she had been waked at home and now it was time for her removal to the local church. We had to leave the room so that the funeral directors could get ready to take her from the house for the last time.

my mammy
my mammy

I can’t remember who asked the question but it was thought that we should file out in order. Initially I was to go first, but then it was decided we would do it the other way – and start with the eldest. We said our final goodbyes, got into a line, and after my Dad, one by one we filed out of my parents’ house, with me the last to leave.

I was proud to take my place in the line. I was the last one to be born to her. The last of her children to live there with her and the last to leave the house; just before she did, for the last time.

Click the image to find about more about Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday

13 years ago I didn’t marry my soul mate


On Monday myself and Sir Galahad were 13 years married.

Personally I think we’re lucky to have made it! I often envy people’s FB posts that say, “x amount of years ago I married my best friend, my soul mate!” I’m like… really? Well you’re lucky. Cos I did not marry my best friend and definitely didn’t marry my soul mate. In fact I hardly knew him, but I sure did (and do) love him.

Over the 13 years we have become best friends and I’m not really sure what a soul mate is, but he’s probably the nearest thing to I have to one – apart from Jesus. (Who I think probably wins the prize actually.)

We’ve had 13 years of hard slog. Grieving over lost loved ones, lost hopes of having children, fighting depression and they’re just the issues I can put out on the world-wide web. Email me for a full list if you’d like. (You won’t get one, but it would be good to know who are the nosey-parkers :D)

It’s been difficult and there have been times when I thought… “you know what? I can’t be bothered with this any more…” But thank God I came to my senses.

19th August 2000
19th August 2000

So… you may wonder are we celebrating at all and do we have anything to celebrate?

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.

We have made it to another year, another milestone. We know folk who struggle with marriage issues and don’t make it. Many are sad to break up, some are relieved – because it’s easier and just better not to be together.
And I get that – believe me, I get that.

But we are celebrating and thanking God that we have won the latest battle; even though there’s no doubt there are more to come. But for now we trust Him, and we stand together
in victory, weapons ready, armour on.
Cos it’s the only way we are going to make it!

amo and rich 2012
September 2012
somewhere nr Kenmare

Thank you God for another year.
Thank you God for 13 years.
Bring it on!

NB! No husbands were injured in the writing of this post, (Well mine wasn’t, in fact he approved it!)

Post-operative complications


July 2nd! It’s always a day of mixed feelings for me. It’s the beloved’s birthday, his sister & brother-in-law’s wedding anniversary and it’s also the birthday of the only set of twins in my family, as well as a couple of other family members. So over the years it’s always marked.

But as in many things in life, there is a bitterness to the sweetness. On July 2nd 2002 I had major surgery that changed my life for ever. I had the big ‘H’ and with it went all hopes of having babies. I was only 30 and not yet 2 years married – so as you can imagine it was a blow.

I was very well prepared for the physical post-operative complications and what to do. I remember one nurse saying, “Basically they’re going to chop you in half, cut a section of you away and sew you back up – so prepare yourself, your body is going to be in shock for a long time.” As dramatic as that sounds, it did prepare me.

After a week in hospital I went home. I had months of recovery. I was blessed to have 2 great friends who are nurses and a district nurse living in the house opposite us. We were fed every day by a rota of folk from church and work. We were both cared for by so many people, including regular visits from Ireland. 

After a while I could walk.
It took time but eventually I could sit and stand with ease.
I was able to drive again after a couple of months and around that time I went back to work.
Because my surgery was cancer related, I attended the hospital for 5 years then was officially discharged.
And here we are 11 years on!

sovereign recovery

The problem was, no one warned me that my heart would be smashed into a million pieces and slowly but surely it would have to be put back together. Along side the physical recovery, there would be an emotional one. These days I’m pretty much reconciled to the turn my life took that day. I’ve had my rows with God. I still don’t get it but I’m a big believer in the sovereignty of God 😉 Most of the time I’m fine but the odd time, on day’s like Mother’s Day, I get a stab of pain from somewhere.

I’m always amazed at the body’s ability to recover. Cuts heal as skin knits itself back together, broken bones fix themselves, bruises eventually fade away. All these things happen with the help of medical care, but God has made our bodies in such a way that they can fix themselves.

And guess what?! The heart heals too! It takes time, longer than skin and bone, but it does heal. In the same way that some physical injuries leave their mark, injuries of the heart do that too.
But I promise you… the healing will come.

You may well choose to get there on your own, but I highly recommend you let God help you.

Ask Him for help – He will answer.
x

photo credit: kenjonbro via photopin cc

Wishing to be lovely


On Good Friday evening I was at our church service. I had one of those experiences that you hear people talk about… I’ve heard this song a million times but today one of the lines jumped out at me.

We were singing the hymn ‘My Song is Love Unknown’, written by Samuel Crossman  (1623-1683). It’s been recorded by a number of people but I particularly love Keith and Kristyn Getty’s version of it. She has a beautiful voice.

So there I was, singing away – not like Kristyn Getty – the first verse says this…

My song is love unknown
my Saviour’s love for me
Love to the loveless giv’n, that they might lovely be…

and like I say, I’ve heard and sung it so many times; but I couldn’t sing anymore cos it struck me that I’ve always wanted to be lovely.

It is a vain wish, but I’ve always wanted to be beautiful.
As you probably know, I have many gorgeous nieces. There is a vague family resemblance to one or two of them, but I share an identical crooked tooth with one of them. Recently she pointed at mine and said, “Did you give that to me?” I was proud to say that I did and I’m delighted to have even the tiniest resemblance to this gorgeous girl.

Now before you give me all your, “Ah Amo you ARE lovely, would you stop!” (which I presume, well… hope, you’re all geared up for :D) I’m not saying I think I’m plug ugly. I just have this immature wish to be gorge!

The song stopped me in my tracks because it’s another thing that has been accomplished by the love of Christ, shown in His death and resurrection of Christ.
It has made us lovely.

My crooked tooth is only one on a long, very very long list of imperfections.
But on this Easter Day I am reminded that I am loved; and lovely.

Joseph and my amazing nephew!


Last night I had another in a long list of #proudaunty moments. My nephew Bobby played the lead role in The Now and Then Production Company’s (N&T) Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. He was joined by a fantastic cast and crew in St. Mary’s Priory, Tallaght, Dublin.

I was on the same stage 14 years ago in a performance of The Song of Mark and a lot of the folk on stage last night, were there with me back in the day. So as well as a great night of entertainment, it was a bit of a reunion. None of us have changed a bit by the way… ahem *coughs 😉

The 11 brothers were a total hoot, the 4 narrators were fabulous – amazing voices, the orchestra, pit singers and cute-as-a-button children’s choir produced wonderful music and the dancing was just great!

But as well as the ‘big production’, N&T want to bring gospel stories to life. Last night was also about the message within the story of Joseph. Scorned and duped by his brothers, pursued by an unfaithful woman, punished unjustly and jailed. Then, when everything was restored and Joseph’s brothers were grovelling at his feet (as Joseph’s dreams had predicted years earlier…) this was his response.

Photograph by Philip McShane for N&T
Photograph by Philip McShane for N&T
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21 NIV

I had a really busy day today. I spent a lot of it in the car which gives great time for thinking. And I thought about the message of Joseph – how horrible circumstances inflicted upon us by others can be used by God to bring about great things.

It’s not always easy to believe or put into practise so it’s great to be reminded that “for those who love God all things work to gether for good.” Romans 8:28 ESV

Photo by Philip McShane for N&T
Photo by Philip McShane for N&T

Huge congratulations to everyone involved. It’s great to see The Now and Then Production Company back on the stage. If you’re looking for more information you can check out their blog and their Facebook group.

For I know I shall find my own peace of mind, for I have been promised a land of my own.

The Half Circle of Life


Round and round it goes.
The whirligig of life.
No stopping it, impossible to catch
There it goes, hatch, match, dispatch.
Babby becomes mammy and she becomes granny
And around we go again.

It’s a wonderful thing.

The next generation consoles the loss of the last
The sights and sounds of new life ease the pain of absence, a salve.

But I’m stuck with this half circle
It keeps moving one way but refuses to come back around.
I feel the benefits and blessings of the salve of others
They ease the sting.

But the absence for me is doubled-up pain
and never more than on this day.
Each year Mother’s Day comes around
It holds my half circle in front of me
I look at it and smile through tears
For in it I see my 27

Dedicated to the memory of my mother, and to my 27 nieces and nephews.