Thursday, 19 June 2014


Us Irish may not be the best at expressing emotion, especially when it comes to family. You are more likely to have a moment with a fella in tears in a pub over a missed penalty, than hear him tell his daughter he loves her. But I'm not sure that matters. I'd have that kind of relationship with my Dad. In fact, he doesn't like being called Dad, preferring Daddy. But at 40 years of age, that sounds a little juvenile.

Russell men are a distinct breed, who probably should be subject to scientific analysis. The DNA is fierce strong, fierce. I look at family photographs and can see the characteristics through my Dad's first cousins and their children. Leon is the cut of my Dad as a young lad. Given my boy's impish ways, I'd say that he has inherited my Dad's personality too.

During 'the occasional' argument with my then husband told me 'you are just like your father'. When I was younger, I may have taken this to be an insult, but now I think, 'Aw shucks, you think I am determined, opinionated and with a strong work ethic and a great head of hair. Thanks for noticing, even now, in the middle of a row !'.

The older I get, the more that I appreciate what my father has passed on to me, without even realising. A love of the land, although his is more agricultural, mine gardening. A strong sense of family and home. I was reared in my father's home place, so our house was where family gathered. Aunts, uncles, clatters of cousins, second and third cousins, priests home from abroad. Living a two hours drive from home now, it is rare (but wonderful) if family come to visit. I wouldn't say that I ever get homesick, but I love coming across someone with that distinctive Meath-Cavan-Monaghan-Louth borders accent. Listening to Hector on the radio gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

I think that 'regret' is a waste of time and I do regret that my father-in-law Des didn't get to meet my children. He died on August 1st,  The day that the twins were born, my mother-in-law, May took Mya's hands and kissed them, saying that she had her grandfathers hands. She often takes Mya's hands now and kisses her stubby little fingers. It's a lovely connection to have. My father-in-law was a radio officer in the British Merchant Navy in the 1940's. He told me lots of stories about that time, but unfortunately, I didn't record what he said. All these years later, my boy is obsessed with the Titanic. He has watched the film (the one with Leonardo ...) endless times. He brings home library books about ships regularly and constantly asks me questions that I can't answer. I wish that Des was around to answer his questions. I could imagine the pride he would have in my wee boy.

I know my Dad is proud of me. I don't remember him telling me that and it's unlikely that he will now. But other people have said things that my Dad told them about me. Sometimes things that I wasn't aware that he knew of. He has been very generous in supporting me in my education and setting myself up in life.

I can see his pride in his eight gorgeous grandchildren, who all love Grandad John's antics. It's lovely seeing your Dad with your children. Enjoying your children in a more relaxed way that you do yourself, being so caught up in the day-to day. It feels like you are giving something back to them.

I had a typical teenage relationship with my Dad. Lots of Hate and very little Love. He told me that I 'caused more trouble than any of the rest of them', although I never did anything too mad. I pretty much left home when I went to college in Galway. I moved home with my tail between my legs, aged 26, after a long-term relationship broke down. I was totally heart broken. I'm not sure what I expected my Dad to say. Maybe 'I told you so'. But all that he said was 'so, there was a fall out in the camp then?' and said no more.

I won't see my Dad today, but I will see him next weekend. The kids will have a card and a pressie for him. There won't be much fuss. I'll print this piece out and give it to him. We probably won't discuss it. But that's fine. Sometimes things don't need to be said.

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