I'm not sure if I should deliver or go into therapy because I had a recurring dream that I'm going to kill dad.
In the dream I find myself on George with a pillow raised above my head as he snores like a geriatric tractor in his narrow nursing bed here in the wild west.
While I'm about to perform my patricidal action, Dad lets out a long snort, opens one eye and nonchalantly asks, "What are you trying to do, Áine, kill me?"
I say: "Indeed, I am, Dad."
He says: "Well, then go ahead. I didn't always tell you, couldn't I just die of it? "
"But I don't want you to die, Dad."
"Well then, Áine. How about getting out of this commune, going for some fries and fried onion rings and we can reassess the situation. "
"You're up, dad," I say, panting with relief.
It's really hard to believe that it's been almost five years since Dad lived independently in his Dublin apartment, albeit in rather chaotic circumstances. Or, indeed, so much time has passed since his expulsion for being a courageous boy in the Dublin nursing home where he briefly resided. Isn't it ironic that it was his independence without repentance to catapult him around the country to his detention in a nursing home so far from where he had lived all his life?
In contrast, my ex-husband's father died in his bed in Clare Island, County Mayo, in the cottage built by the congested district council where he had lived most of his life.
Born in 1901, Austy Bob O & # 39; Malley had a long happy life: wearing donkeys and horses in the small forge in the courtyard; saving the hay with a scythe and cutting the grass with a sléan. He whistled the polka and the reels for the house dances and tapped the top of his boiled egg daily as a sculptor creating a great masterpiece.
Once the twilight had crept into the evening, he sat in his chair on the left side of the range – herself on the other side – and filled his pipe with the concentration of a forensic scientist.
It was time to snort plumes of smoke over the lamp of the Sacred Heart as he read and dozed. It could be The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Letters of a Love Hungry Farmer by John B. Keane. He took the stories he read in every tome he devoured, be it fiction or fact, with a big pinch of salt topped off with a laugh that often involved the dislocation of his peaked cap from his perennial perch as he threw his head back and gave himself a pat on the knees.
The times may have been tough, but it was the community that was the currency rather than consumerism
It was not easy to raise nine children on a 16-acre farm in De Valera's Ireland. The inevitability of emigration to Coventry or London, Chicago or Philadelphia was part of the cultural DNA. Despite the fact that such families were often thrown around the world due to economic deprivation, they usually maintained a network of closeness through home visits, writing letters and, as has been well documented, returning remittances that actually held afloat the Irish economy during the middle of the decades of the last century.
The times may have been tough, but it was the community that was the currency rather than consumerism. The corporatization of our culture was a monster that had yet to be born where, along with everything else, old age would become a commodity from which huge profits could be made; for which the state must increasingly extend its budget.
Seven days after his 91st birthday, November 9, 1992, Austy Bob vanished from this world and, surrounded by three generations of his family, he was awakened for two nights in the "room above", in the bed he had shared with his wife for over 60 years. His widowed son and younger son helped to "throw him overboard" – the expression still used on the island to lay down a corpse.
I have the privilege of being part of intimacy and warmth, of laughter and tears, of the whole ritual.
What a comforting way to slip from this world to another.
Isn't it surprising if I'm dreaming of killing Dad?
SERIES: Dad, dementia and me
Part 1: I couldn't see him so confused
Part 2: How can I tell him his son is dead?
Part 3: The clash on a car
Part 4: Dad talks to me about Mammy
Part 5: He left the marriage for a cigarette
Part 6: If the grandmother had drowned that day
Part 7: A drummer on your tree?
Part 8: Concerned about death
Part 9: More than just a haircut
Part 10: He called them "narrow gobsh *** s"
Part 11: A recurring dream of killing dad