The heat outside is so intense, the sky is china blue and even the butterflies have retreated to the shade. The chair sags and Pappy sighs as he sits down into Nanny’s old rocker. His frail and gnarled hands grip the arms of the chair, wooden arms that have been rubbed smooth. The ebb and flow of time have chiselled away at his wizened face, ravaging it with careful patience. The familiar fog settles behind his eyes as he whispers in his fragile voice “Mo Chroí Mo Chroí”. When that fog descends Pappy closes his eyes and travels somewhere else. Time and grief are stealing Pappy away from us more and more with each passing day. “See ya later Paps”, we all shout as we leave him to his whispered murmurings. Instead of getting to top up my tan, here I am spending the afternoon helping Mom to clear out Pappy’s house of all his dusty old gear. I decide to get this over and done with as soon as possible and set to work in the kitchen. I open drawer after drawer filled with boxes of buttons, stamps and newspaper cuttings of everyone and everything. Then I lift out a bundle of postcards and envelopes secured with an elastic band and joy of joys the band snaps and the cards and envelopes fly like confetti through the air. As I start to gather them, I lift a piece of almost transparent paper and, I can see that it is a letter, written on that old fashioned airmail type paper. As I start to read I am gripped immediately in the grasp of the words on the page… “Mo Chroí Mo Chroí, I am exhausted after my journey but as I write this letter I feel you beside me even though we are a world apart. Although I am soaked in apprehension and fear, I know that one day I will emerge from the shackles of the trenches and the veil of terror will unwrap itself once more. Oh, how I long to see your sweet face again my dear” I am transfixed as I read, and I journey with Pappy through the war as he crossed oceans and land filled with terror, sustained by the love for Nanny. I think of the man I left earlier this afternoon in Greenfields Nursing Home and suddenly I don’t see a rheumy-eyed old man anymore, I see someone who travelled far to fight for our freedom and applaud the love that saw him through it. I think I now know where Pappy travels when he closes his eyes and even though he & Nanny are a world apart again, I hope with all my heart that he is silently still writing letters to her and in the words of Vera Lynn …” Until they meet again, don’t know where don’t know when but I know they’ll meet again some sunny day”.
Today I have discovered your past and my history – what a rich journey, what a gift!