Here I am performing live at the Thirsty Dog in Auckland. If you are ever in Auckland check out a great weekly music session and say hi.
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Saturday, 6 December 2014
Monday, 1 December 2014
The day before we were due to depart I noticed some blood stains on my bed sheet as I got out of bed. I had felt this little gathering giving me a little irritation from time to time, but I could not see it as it was above my right knee, and closer to my backside. Anyway I thought I’d better have it looked at so I rang to get an appointment with my doctor. But as he was away they gave me an appointment with another doctor. I rang Rachel and she said she’d take me down. Anyway I was given two choices. One to have a dressing put on it, or have a small operation to cut it out later in the evening. So I said lets do it just in case it caused any trouble while we were in Canada. Last thing I wanted was to become a problem to Rachel or anyone else. Having bad knees and a not so healthy back was quite enough for this trip. So Rachel took me down to have have the little infection cut out later that evening, and she assisted the doctor as he completed the job. Nothing squeamish about Rachel. So when it was all over she took me to the late night chemist to get me some antibiotics to hopefully prevent any infection.
The following afternoon Rachel’s son Conor drove us to the airport to catch our flight to Vancouver. It was the first time I had ever traveled business class and was very grateful because of ageing factors that were now taking place in my life. Rachel also organised a wheelchair for me for two reasons. One she could move faster, and secondly it was a blessing for my old knees.
So after a comfortable wait in the lounge room we boarded the plane to take us to Vancouver. I survived the flight better than I thought I would, And had a nice chat with one of the flight attendants called Kate McKinnon. I asked her If I could have her permission to put her name on my blog. A very nice and attractive lady that gave this old guy quite a buzz. I believe no matter what age we are we should never suppress our feelings as long as they do no harm to others. And I would also like to thank all those who looked after my daughter and I on both the flights to and from Vancouver on Air New Zealand. We were well looked after.
We had a couple of hours wait in Vancouver then a five hour flight to Toronto. I must say that flight took a lot out of me. It was comfortable but the old body did not take to it too kindly.
I was very relieved when we landed in Toronto.
As soon we collected our luggage and walked through departure area there was my sister and her daughter Betty waiting to greet us. What a lovely reunion that was for the four of us. Last time I had my arms around them was in September of 1989. Very quickly Betty transported us back to my sister Ann’s house with lots of laughter and those get together things that come to fill the vacant years in between our last meeting.
Mind you it was a bit like the tip of the iceberg to start with, but would eventually melt down to warm the cockles of our hearts as we settled in at Ann’s house. Seeing it was just around midnight Betty had to take of to her house to get some sleep, then be up for work next morning.
So Ann made us a cup of tea, and we chatted for a while, then off to bed. Can’t say I slept well after all the travelling and the excitement that was building up of seeing my sister Ann and her family again. But on the other side of the coin It takes a while for my brain to shut down to find a spot in dreamland.
When I woke up next morning it took a little time to adjust to my new surroundings but that quickly passed. I lay in bed for a while trying to take in the events of that had happened over the last day and a half. I had never in my wildest dreams thought I would visit Canada to see my sister and her family again. And on top of that My brother Tony and his wife Joan were on their way to join us from Dublin. Sometimes you get a once in lifetime opportunity that brings with it a great blessing.
I spent most of that first day relaxing and adjusting myself to my new surroundings. Even though I had been here before, it was still a whole new scene. Nothing stays the same, differences occur every moment that we live.
Later that evening my brother Tony and His wife arrived. What a moment that was. We were soon in each others arms with bells of the past ringing like there was no tomorrow. The moment was all that mattered to us. Putting your feelings in action creates a language can break all the sound barriers that man will be ever capable of doing. Ashley Montagu and Floyd Matson state that love is the highest form of communication. They say.
Human communication is a clash of symbols’ it covers a multitude of signs.But it is more than media and messages, information and persuasion; it also meets a deeper need and serves a higher purpose. Whether clear or garbled, tumultuous or silent, deliberate or fatally inadvertent, communication is the ground of meeting and the foundation of community. It is, in short, the essential human connection.
So the bells went on ringing for us till the night fairy caught up with us. After giving each other a big hug, we made our way to bed.
Ann just about always goes out for breakfast, but I gave it a miss after a poor nights sleep. I heard Ann and Rachel laughing in the kitchen before they went out and thought to myself had I not made the effort to come on this trip, I would have missed all those wonderful moments of hearing, seeing and feeling the joy that was being presented to every bone in my old body. Ann and Rachel seemed more like sisters than aunt and niece. They got on so well together. A far as I remember Jone and Tony had a lay in like myself.
The rest of the day was spent in the valley of reminiscences. This of course brought out quite a number of things that had not been obvious to me for various reasons. Like the time my mother had to go away, and I took off to join the RAF. And then there was all those in between bits that was mirrored from the reflection of our growing up individual souls. So from all this came a better frame of understanding of things we could not piece together from the dark days of our growing up. Moments like this for me in all sorts of situations are simple ways of conveying a certain amount of that deep need of warmth that lies deep within us. The great pity is it seldom seems to come to the surface when its needed most. A reflection on my past touches on that. It took me six months to cry my eyes out after my father had died. I know he gave me a tough time, but that need to really forgive was always going to hurt me, more than it could ever hurt him. I think we should all take a good look at that in some way or another.
My sister Ann went to a lot of trouble and expense to have her swimming pool ready when we arrived, and it looked terrific.
She knew that Rachel and I loved to swim, so I thank her very sincerely among all the other wonderful things she did to make our stay an experience a once in a lifetime adventure.
I used to really enjoy going out for breakfast around seven in the morning. Mind you it was took a bit of getting used to her transporting us around on right hand side of the road. Mind you I don’t have to get used to it thank God, and I’m sure other drivers in that part of the world would also thank God That I didn’t have to get used to it. But I have to admit it kept me on my toes, and very alert. Didn’t have much time to eye the lovely women as they made their way around. I did that when we were walking around.
Ann interduced me to a lovely friend of hers called Maia when we first went to Ted’s for breakfast. She seemed to take a shine to me, and of course I responded to her lovely nature. She had this mischievous grin that could draw you to her like water to a duck. That may not sound very flattering to you Maiu, but I don’t claim to be a person of constant charm, just try to hit the nail in the right place as often as I can.
I was later to meet a lovely guy called Neil Townshend-Carter.
He had done some work for My sister Ann at her House. Anyway we hit on the subject of snooker and that led to him calling for me and taking me to a snooker parlour some distance from Ann’s house. I had brought my Maple Leaf snooker cue with with me so that I could play the deciding match against my nephew Kevin. I played two games with him in late 1989 while I was visiting Ann and her family. Anyway he won one and I the other. We did not have time to play the decider for reasons I can’t remember. Anyway All keyed up Neil went into battle. He trashed me with his amazing long and lovely near white cue in the first game. Then he insisted I use his cue for the second game. Well for one reason or another his generosity went against him, I returned the compliment. Mind you I really enjoyed playing with his cue. Anyway I handed him back his cue for the final game, and just managed to beat him on the black ball. I would have loved to play another game, but my old legs were getting quite painful.
What a wonderful afternoon that was. And what a wonderful privilege it was to play snooker with such a nice person as Neil.
Here was a man who had done something with his life. He shared some great stories with me, and a better sportsman I have yet to meet. Thank You Neil.
As Ann liked variety she took us to three different places for breakfast. Ted’s, Eggs Smart and McDonalds.
On one of our visits to Eggs Smart, we were waiting for our for our breakfast’s to arrive, when in walked four police people. Three men and a lady. Then for whatever reason only God knows I got this sudden inclination to go and have a brief word with them. I told my daughter and she you're crazy. well that’s nothing new as she well knew. So up I marched to them with a beaming smile with a tingle of embarrassment and maybe a little fear for they were armed, and I’m sure had been in some crazy situations like where anything could evolve at a moment's notice with such people like myself coming out of the blue at them. But My smile and elderly features I feel sure won the day for all of us. When I arrived at their table I said excuse me for barging in, But I would consider it a privilege to shake hands with you nice people. I am an Irishman visiting My sister with my daughter, and I have a lot of respect for the great work you do. So they all got up from their chairs and shook hands with me. Then I interduced myself, but in my tingling state embarrassment I only managed to remember one of their names, Kelly. And I hope it was in some way a pleasurable moment for them, as it was for me. I have always been treated well by the New Zealand Police. Yes, I have received a few speeding tickets quite rightly, but I have also have been let off for certain incidents. And all but one of them treated with politeness. We all have our bad days.
I must say that one of most memorable evenings I had was the the night my niece Betty put on a show to celebrate her 50th in her back garden. She had hired a small group of musicians to entertain us, and the children and us grown ups really enjoyed it. Then I was asked up to sing a song, so Red is the Rose went down very well. As a matter a fact a lady there said it brought tears to her eyes. She told me her father used to sing it to her. That was quite a compliment to me. Then a little later my nephew Kevin and I did a duet. We sang Working Man written by a lovely song writer and singer called Rita MacNeil. I first heard the song sung by by a lady from Dublin called Shaylee Wilde in a pub called the Mercantile in the Rocks in Sydney. I was very impressed with her voice, and the song was to leave a big impression on my soul. I was told that Rita wrote the song after visiting the Collier Mines in Sydney. So a number of years ago I heard someone singing Working and the impression it left on me came to the surface and I learned the song to dedicate it to the miners who both gave their lives, and worked in the mines. And I of course in memory of the great Canadian who wrote it. And what was a more fitting place to sing it in along with great Nephew Kevin than Canada.
My sister Ann and myself didn’t stay to the end of the party. We were no match for the young people. But as we were just about to cross the road I got interduced to Betty’s lovely daughter Margaret and her husband Kyle. They had not long arrived if I have it right from Florida. What a lovely couple they were with their cute daughter Ridley. Margaret told me that she had made a video of Kevin and I singing Working Man, and would send it on to me. And she did. God how I love people who stick by their word. They are my friends for life.
And the wonderful thing that has been drawn from all of this is, we are now in communication with each other on e-mail.
I really believe that what life is all about. (Communication) That is why have spent a lot of my time in moving from one place to another since I was sixty years old. And all the wonderful people and experiences it has brought into my life goes beyond words to present to you. Ashley Montagu and Floyd Matson that love is the highest form of communication. They say:
Human communication, “as the saying goes, is a clash
of symbols’ it covers a multitude of signs. But it is more
than media and messages, information and persuasion;
it also meets a deeper need and serves a higher purpose.
Whether clear or garbled, tumultuous of silent, deliberate
or fatally inadvertent, communication is the ground of meeting and the foundation of community. It is, in short, the essential connection.
What could I add to that without taking something away from it. But I will say this way of life for me becomes more vital each day I live.
After my brother Tony and his wife Joan left I had a visit from a lovely man I met somewhere around twelve years ago here in Auckland. We had been in communication for all those years in between. Some by tape, writing of phone. Then around five years ago God thought I should have a computer, so it arrived through a young Irishman Called Patrick. I met Patrick at The Thirsty Dog pub where I sing every Monday. He told me his firm were getting new computers, and if I was interested he would see if he could get one of their old ones for me. I jumped at the chance as I could not afford to buy one. What little money I had from my pension went on golf and tennis, plus keeping a car on the road. And in no way am I complaining, but very grateful to have a pension that that allowed me to enjoy this lifestyle.
Anyway Patrick got me a computer, set it up, and taught me how to use it. I shall never be able to thank him enough for all the support he has given me over the past number of years.
My good friend Henry who had come booked himself into a Motel not far from my sister’s house. We picked him up at the station, and dropped him off there. Later we picked him up to come round and meet the what family was there at the time. Ann’s family were just about always coming and going. She had a very close knitted family, and it was a great joy for me to the love that surrounded her. My sister was a very special in every sense of the word. very much like our Mum.
While Henry was there we caught up on the past corners of our lives, and shared the interesting experiences that developed from them, over meals we had together in different places Ann dropped us off to have special time together.
Thank You Henry For making the effort to spend time with me and family.
I must admit I had only one swim in Ann’s lovely pool. The weather was fine, but not quite warm enough for my old body, but my daughter Rachel really enjoyed it.
And I would like to thank all the family who invited Rachel and myself to visit their family homes, and treated us to delicious meals and wonderful conversation. And also a big thank you to all the wonderful friends that Rachel and I was interduced too.
I would have liked to be in better shape to respond to all the wonderful happenings that that were being laid at my doorstep, but the old body was not quite up to it.
I hope what I’ve I have written here will give you some idea of how grateful I am to my My daughter Rachel for taking me to Toronto, and how grateful to my sister Ann and family and friends, and my brother Tony and his wife Joan, And Henry for those precious moments you all shared with me to make my life worth the effort I have tried to put into it. And how much more special it has become because of you all. I thank God and you all so very much, and may you all have many blessings in your lives.
Lots of Love