After nearly 40 years of marriage, 39 years and six months to be precise, the last bird has flown the nest. They have been flying the nest gradually for the last 22 years and I have never given it much of a thought as each one took wing, but the last is a time for circumspection, to look around the space and insure ourselves not to think “well was that it”.
Here now are the two of us, in a large quiet empty house, full of beds but no sleepers, full of memories but with nobody to share them with, full of space with nobody to fill it. Nobody to harangue, nobody to take the mickey out of, nobody to shop for, nobody to cook for, nobody to care for. It is all of a sudden a desert, both mentally and physically but at least I have Helen.
Dear faithful Helen, who over the years has kept me in line, who has raised her voice when necessary and as mollified me often. We look at each other now with a realisation that we both picked a good one all those years ago, when picking was certainly a lottery and that we have been a damn sight luckier than most who attempted the almost impossible climb of marriage and family life.
Of choice some months ago we gave away our television sets; we have not for a while watched or listened to the mind numbing crap that the television service of all countries serve out to the general populace and because of this simple procedure we have reaped the benefits. when you don’t watch crap and there is no background noise vying for your attention, there is quietude and in that virtual vacuum, conversation flows. With conversation comes knowledge and appreciation and that is where we are now at. We now know each other better than we have ever done in our long state of matrimony.
During the day we spend our time researching ideas, thoughts and theories on the internet and in books. We have our own little causes to pursue, Helen’s main one at the moment is the very real threat that government these days rule our every move and mine, if you have not guessed it, is how to destroy the stranglehold the unrighteous Catholic Church has on its unthinking followers.
In the evenings we sit, have a glass of wine, eat – no carbs for me nowadays until I reach 16 stone and rid myself of this accursed diabetes but that is all about 10 miles away. As I said we eat and discuss the little gems we have discovered during the days trawl through knowledge and generally put the world to rights. We retire gracefully, tired out with our efforts and sleep well. Me, not for long, as I cannot rid myself of a lifetimes habit of rising at 5.00am but at that time I pick up my e-mails that still stagger in from all round the world, all denigrating the Church and all hating the likes of Monsignor Thomas Duggan, 44 years dead and still haunting our lives, filling our minds with hatred at the way he and his mates ruined our young existences at St Bede’s College in Manchester.
I found when I was totally engrossed with this schoolday’s problem, I used to rise at 3.00am. When it was 3.00am in the West of Ireland, it was 9.00pm on the West coast of America, 12.00 noon on the eastern seaboard of Australia and 3.00pm in New Zealand. I could and often did contact all these places and all these people instantly.
Retirement I have found although now a little lonelier is a very respectable and engrossing situation to be in. Providing of course that you have a cause or causes or a passion and not relying on the organs of state that are supposed to help but more often hinder.
However there are a few, I presume, temporary problems. The last bird to fly was by no means a runt but he was definitely the scrapings of the bag. Excited to be taking wing and flying off to Cork, no mean journey on these Irish roads but desolate at the loneliness, far from his mother’s comforting and I have to say plentiful breast. At nearly 20 going on five, he needs to harden up. When I think of when I was his age but times were different and I should not compare. For a start off beer was only a shilling a pint.
So here we are with the thought that silence is golden ringing in our ears and all of a sudden getting an earful from the lovely Helen because I interrupted her research into the latest findings of that atrocious cover up by the powers that be over the Hillsborough disaster all those years ago when many Liverpool supporters died because it seems of Police inadequacy. These cover ups are still going on and to my mind it is the biggest governmental sin against mankind there is. All we seek is openness, truth and accountability, we can forgive everybody and everything after that but when we get treated like idiots and told to believe in things that are patently untrue then that is the time for action.
I, no matter what the Church threw at me as a youth, spent my whole life as at least a 99% Catholic but when I learnt and accepted that there had been a clerical abuse cover up when I was 63 years old my Catholicism went up in smoke. I am now, because of this lack of openness and because of the Church’s absolute refusal to accept accountability, their biggest critic or at least as big as their biggest critic. My patron saints are Fr Tom Doyle and Ray Mouton.