Joseph McCloskey writes about an Irish tradition he feels is sadly dying out in Ireland
Slowly they filed past. The old and the young, faces gnarled in despair; some genuine, some feigned. Strangers to me every one of them, and yet they shook my hand firmly and vigorously, eager to show me the depth of their grief. Others laid a sympathetic hand on my shoulder and rhymed off the age-old mantra, ‘sorry for your trouble’.
What a strange expression, I thought. As if the passing of a friend or family member would be described as a trouble.
The difficult part for me was, I was not grieving; perhaps I was still in shock. At the time I couldn’t tell. Did this procession of strangers, these mourners, keep me from coming to terms with my pain?
My father, the man I wanted to grow up to be, the man I had most admired in this world, had passed away. I was angry that there wasn’t a fanfare to announce this monumental occasion.
Yet now, as a grown man, I understood, he wasn’t the god I’d thought him to be. I’d expected too much from him; he was just a man trying to do his best for his family, and he had. He’d brought us up well; we never wanted for anything.
As a young man, I feared the day when the safety net he held discretely in the background, in case we faltered, would no longer be there. Now that I’m a man, I understand the great cycle of life better and I have to accept his passing.
Now I have to prepare that safety net for my own children.