In what is likely to be one of my last visits to Ireland, I took a short trip down the Old Mill Road in what is surely my last time ever to be there.
It is a narrow little road not far from my parents’ house that led to one of their favorite spots on the River Shannon. They would go down there once a week and feed the swans and ducks with the leftover breads from the week and it became a singular spot that I will forever associate with them.
Mam and Dad were creatures of habit and neither weather nor illness rarely stopped this routine. And for however many years they did this together, I can only imagine the generations of creatures that smiled when they saw a certain car coming down the road for them.
When my Dad died, my Mam still went down there and I had the fortune to go with her once or twice and she strained under the burden of sudden widowhood.
Since she too has died I have gone alone, with Victoria and Erin, and with Inna. And on many such occasions I have found myself standing in the shadows of my two favorite ghosts.
Within my mind it has thus become a melancholy moment, although outwardly bringing bread to swans and ducks and gulls is an action packed event that seems anything but.
On my last visit to Ireland, we got a couple of loaves specifically for the droves of hungry little guys and went down there one final time.
I have attached a few pictures to the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!
As the final piece of bread flew through the air to an expectant mouth, I breathed deeply in realization that I had likely just witnessed my final revisit to the Old Mill Road.
While it made me sad, it also allowed me to stop and close the door on a moment that was never mine in the first place.
Yes, I was able to relive it at a different time and with different people, but the moment always belonged to my Mam and Dad. Even when it was just my Mam and me, the moment was different.
While I might have been restaging something that I knew was done before me, Mam and Dad created their moment together and the bottom of the Old Mill Road will forever be theirs, not mine.
If I had looked into the rear-view mirror as I drove away, I would very likely have seen their ghosts waving goodbye to me but that is a view I couldn’t bear to see.
You see, closing doors is one of the most difficult things we have to do as humans.
The sound of the door latching typically means the end of a relationship, the permanence of a memory, the end of a possibility.
And us humans simply love to hope.
Relinquishing hope runs contrary to our inner-child and we often fight it with every breath.
Yet sometimes, that is what we must do. Because closing the door on something is oftentimes the only way we can move forward on our journey towards life’s end.
Life, regardless of what we think of it is a forward moving journey. It may be one that is easy and joyous or fraught with issues and struggles. But it is the only one we get, so living it in the past is an incredible waste of a journey.
Like everyone, there are days when I reminisce and long for a different outcome to the one that awaits my waking eyes.
But keeping them shut and focusing ourselves on something from our past doesn’t stop the sunrise and the world continues to turn regardless.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is keep moving forward, oftentimes just one step at a time. And don’t forget to shut the door behind you.
… just a thought.