In 1993 I was having a bad year. Not as bad as my mother mind you but let’s just say I didn’t handle her death as well as she did. I felt lawless, hateful and even resentful at those women her age who were still alive. But why wouldn’t they be alive? Mom was only 55—just a week from 56.
Above all else though I was so utterly sad. I got fat. I developed IBS. I developed asthma as soon as I quit smoking. My periods became ridiculously heavy and unpredictable and worse than all that was the physical fear for my life I felt from my brother. He had stolen everything in our house before Diana and I had a chance to sort our things. Without our mother running interference, we felt he might kill us. Well kill Diana for sure, I’d be collateral damage. It doesn’t matter how realistic a threat might be, if you perceive it, you suffer. But that tale is for another day.
My state was fragile. I felt like an abandoned kitten one moment crying piteously for my lost mother and the next I felt like a tiger needing to bolt for freedom in the unknown having found my cage unlocked. My friends tried so hard to help me through but really I just needed to cry until I could cry again. I thought about running away so many times. Maybe I would do “Teach America” I thought or, better yet, just go west and try to find work on a farm. What to do? What to do? Diana wanted me to come to California but we fell out. We were both so hurt we couldn’t help each other much less ourselves. It was just easier to not talk for a while. So we didn’t and instead of going to Cali for the month of August as planned, my friend Patsy asked me to come to Ireland where her family had a farm. In turn, I asked Lori to come with me.
|Dancing to the Wolfe Tones|
|Me and Strawberry on the neighbor's farm in Kilcummin|
Patsy’s family lived in Kilcummin just outside Killarney. Lori and I stayed in a B&B in town and set off to help move time forward. Well, that’s what I was doing. I was just getting through the days. I was the girl who lost her mother and I didn’t have an easy time stepping out from under that mantel.
Killarney is a very popular tourist destination but it was relatively unspoiled back then. It was small and had a number of pubs that had not changed in decades. It also had trusty tourist shops and pony and trap drivers to take you down to the Lakes and Muckross House.
It was the Gap of Dunloe, however, with its wild, lonely scenery and Macgillycuddy's Reeks that made me fall in love with Ireland. The Ring of Kerry was at once a promise of the beauty still to be enjoyed in the world and a reminder of its ever- difficult terrain. There is no easy passage through life but there is much to enjoy along the way.