Celtic Illumination, part 391, Honor your father and mother.
Despite the fact that I hadn’t spoken to mother number one for at least two years I still felt a duty towards her. You sort of forgot about all the nasty stuff, well; you didn’t really, but it was placed at the back of your mind. All I could see now was a frail old woman and I had a duty to care for her. It was also strange that my good friends in Warrenpoint knew that none of my family would have bothered contacting me to inform me that mother number one was in hospital. It meant that you constantly wondered what on earth you could have said, or done, that had been so wrong. Well; I knew what I had done, I had married a non-Catholic.
I wonder how many of you feel embarrassed when you watch the news. I do, almost every night, Catholics versus Protestants, us and them, them and us. Even the greatest antagonist of them all Ian Paisley has now stepped forward and said that perhaps he had been wrong. I can’t wait until I take control of Ireland, I’ll give them religion. Of course my sister, the almost genius, the one who had the monks and priests with her Uber Catholic wedding in five languages in the oldest monastery in Northern Italy and the two choirs was now divorced. I, on the other hand, the heretic who got married in a registry office was still happily married with four beautiful children. This would never be acceptable in Ireland often called the land of saints and scholars, the land of backward feckers would be more like it.
I had immediately telephoned Daisy Hill hospital in Newry and managed to get through to the ward where mother number one was being cared for. I even managed to speak to her. She told me that she was being released the following day and would be returning home. I knew that she already had a home help come in once a day, which we were not very impressed with. It was the wife of an old school friend of mine and on our last visit we dusted away the cobwebs in the hallway which was more like curtains of ivy. What concerned me the most was that I had been told that my cousin’s two children had been at the service where mother number one had collapsed, so why they hadn’t bothered to contact me really worried me, it was an insult beyond belief. Knowing that mother number one was to be home the following day Irene told me that I was to call her every evening and I was to get Pat involved, to make sure that someone was keeping an eye on the situation.
As luck would have it there was no response from mother number one on the Friday. No response on the Saturday either. On the Sunday Pat was dispatched to the house, formally known as home, to find it empty. The only thing I could think of was that mother number one had gone to my aunt Margaret’s, her sisters, where they would have looked after each other and been safe and sound. On the Monday I had had enough and telephoned my aunt’s house. Jimmy answered. Jimmy had married my cousin and was a lovely fellow. He was one of the most popular men in the county having captained the county football team then led the all-stars on a tour of America before returning and becoming the voice of senior Gaelic football as a reporter for the BBC. Not only was he one of the nicest men you could ever hope to meet he was always helping other people, cutting lawns, trimming hedges and fetching and carrying for the elderly in the community. So I found it strange that he was shouting at me.
“Where have you been? Everyone’s been trying to contact you.” Next thing I know is that the pervert priest has taken the telephone from Jimmy and is speaking to me. Well; he was speaking, but it really felt that he was speaking to everyone else in the house and I was purely incidental. “Your auntie Margaret is dead and we buried her today.” I suddenly realised that the house would have been full of mourners and he was speaking to them, not me. Having Jimmy shout at me was bad enough but to learn that my favourite aunty was dead was all a bit much. And not only was she dead but she was now dead and buried and my family had decided not to include me in that process. Never being invited to any of the weddings, or christenings, or standard family get-togethers was almost a fact of life for me but this was taking things to an extreme.
I managed to keep myself together and asked about mother number one. The pervert priest crowed at me down the telephone that mother number one was now in an old peoples home in Newry, she was too infirm to be looking after herself at the house in Warrenpoint. I have to admit that it took a few moments to pull myself together; I couldn’t believe what was happening or what I was hearing. So much for the Christian values of forgiveness and unconditional love, especially from a priest. Perhaps the double top secret cabal preparing me for the throne of Ireland had put me into these difficult situations in Liverpool and Manchester to prepare me for this. I promise you, I often thought that there was something strange about me as I had two families who didn’t want to have any contact with me and I hadn’t even met one of them.
It didn’t take me long to find the contact details for the old peoples home in Newry and I was able to speak not just to the ward sister but mother number one. She was adamant that she was going home the following week something the ward sister wasn’t too sure about. At least I now knew what was happening and could now sit down with Irene and discuss what we were going to do about it. We both thought that I should get myself over to Ireland and make sure mother number one was getting the proper care and attention she deserved. I rang social services in Newry and was pleased to find that the fellow in charge of the elderly was an old school friend. That certainly eased our conversation so I was able to explain to him that I was the Deputy Director of Operations for a large firm involved in learning disabilities and mental health covering Manchester and Liverpool with a specialty in the more extreme end of the business.
I should have known that old school friend or not, this fellow was a social worker, so it didn’t matter what position I had achieved, I needed a qualification in social work before he would even consider me for any available position. Oh and by the way the employment laws were now so stringent in Northern Ireland there was no way the old boy system could be brought in to play. The next time I spoke to the matron at the old people’s home where mother number one was impounded I enquired about the private companies in the area. The matron informed me that they actually had men at their establishment who turned violent every evening and they were desperate for experienced people to help them control the situation. If I wanted I could have a job, there and then, with them.
It was tempting but I would have to take such a huge drop in wages I don’t know if I could have afforded to live back in Ireland. Sure there was the house in Warrenpoint, but would I be allowed to stay in it? Of course the one big question remained. I may have been fulfilling the role of the decent Irish son and was willing to go to the ends of the earth to look after mother number one, but was I wanted there? Not one member of my family in Ireland had contacted me and in a way I was fine with that. I had my own support network of friends who were helping me out, but it still niggled away at the back of my mind why they were treating me like this. And then one evening I telephoned the old peoples home in Newry to be told that mother number one had been released. She had gone back home.
I could tell from the conversations that we had had with mother number one that she was losing it. Her mind would wander and I would change from being her son to her brother, or father, or friend. Being in the industry myself I knew that she would need an awful lot of support. Pat was put on standby and kept an eye on what was happening, she would call me regularly to tell me who was looking after mother number one and in her opinion how she was doing. Pat was calling in now and again for a friendly cup of tea.
That’s when I got the first telephone call from a member of my family, it was the pervert priest. He didn’t engage in a normal human conversation, instead he was factual and to the point. I think I can remember our conversation word for word. I don’t think he even used my name. He just said, ”Your mother’s going in to a home in Warrenpoint. We’re selling the house to pay for her care. If there’s anything you want from the house you’ve got two weeks to get here and take it.” That was the end of the conversation between myself and a Christian priest, someone who I once had thought was my father, but who I now knew, through the newspaper reports I was receiving, was about to be declared as the biggest pervert in all of Ireland. Well; at least he was keeping the family tradition alive and well, by being the best at whatever it was you chose to do in life.