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Sam The Quiet Man by Maxi McCoubrey

Writing.ie | Magazine | Mining Memories | Tell Your Own Story
Maxi McCourbrey

Maxi McCoubrey

You danced across my mind just now…

I have your smiling picture beside my bed. I look at your handsome face and twinkling eyes and bless the footprint of your life.

When I was a teenager, you would watch my interest in the arts and, realizing it was a precarious world, would volunteer advice. I was too young to understand protection from the vicariousness of it. I would naively argue that the need to have savings would never arise.

You walked me to the bank and explained on the way it would be an idea for me to have money while I was waiting to be wealthy. “The wheel of fortune turns, you’re in the January of your working life,” you whispered as we walked up Sundrive Road, “and in Jan, you plan! I’ll match you pound for pound for the first month”

So, with two pounds, I opened an account and started a life-saving habit. We bought ice cream from the Italian parlour on the way home and you said “that’s the sweet taste of security”.

The oceans are not deep enough to hold my admiration for you.

There are so many things about you I will never share. The way you would never share the fact that would go out of your way to help the poor. Your ideas on how to help your fellow man astounded me. You were a carpenter, plumber, mechanic and handyman for anyone in need.

You’d pick fruits for the hungry, buy clothes for the needy, and use your knowledge to advise the insecure. When you went silent, you were thinking of more ways to help them.

Your heart is bigger than the sky.

I often think about your hope of becoming a worthy member of society and I am so proud that you achieved that. When you said “I’m moving on,” I thought you meant you were being promoted, after a lifetime of dedicated work, it never occurred to me that you knew you were going to die.

The world knows of your kindness and rotates with respect for you.

We shared a love of words.

You believed in my writing even before I did. You loved playing with the English language. You’d listen to my crazy notions and then drop me a line and say “I have passed on your idea”.

I would be happy in the knowledge that you were telling everyone how clever I was, but really you were saying “I have passed on the idea” – meaning it had been shelved.

I have lived a million years since your death.

Today I blessed myself from the water in a font where a baby had been baptised.

That helped because I know you loved new beginnings. You used to say that no situation was too catastrophic that you couldn’t learn from it and start again.

I am proud there is so much of you in my blood.

If you want to give me a gift, now that you are in Heaven with all the technology at your fingertips, please send me a dream so that I might relive the day we planted the rhus typhina tree together. We spent hours deciding where best it might catch the light. You took a cutting from its mother in your home and carried it to mine, soaked it, dug it in and prayed over it as you gave it its new habitat.

Then you said it needed a garden seat and you had seen one in a Saturday market. You told me to go in and bid for it and then tell the man it was hideous, full of woodworm, and I didn’t want it. Then, in sight of him, I came back and you chose that moment to walk in and offer a fair price.

The guy was so pleased to teach me a lesson he sold it to you on impulse. Your grin was so big that day that I took a piece of it and planted it in my heart.

All the trees in the world are not high enough to define your wisdom.

As you watered the tree that reminds me of you every day, you shouted “what is this thing called love?” and I thought you were opening up a discussion about affection and commitment. You giggled as you held up a garden tool because you had forgotten its name.

I use the memory of that smile as an ointment when the wound of your absence hurts most.

Like an elusive crossword answer, I could never guess your next action. What I could predict was that you were always there in my time of need. I remember our Sunday walks, the times when you sweetly tuned the violin, and the songs you shared with my mother when she played the piano.

The world is too small to hold my sorrow at your passing.

I remember the evenings you’d push back the furniture and practice a dance you had learned at a class the previous evening in the local hall. You loved ballroom dancing; you felt it was dignified and romantic.

You were born in county Down.

You taught country traditions to your city-born children. We would be brought to pick blackberries or gooseberries for jam. A stool would be upturned and a cotton muslin cloth knotted to each leg to strain the fruit and the rich smell of nature’s bounty would fill our house.

You and mam were married for half a century, yet your romance was initially fraught with parental disapproval. Still you taught me to love and respect my grandparents. They were always welcome in our home.

I loved watching you shave in the morning. It was the time I learned most from you.

“Never catch a falling knife,” you’d advise soaping your brush, “or interfere between man and wife.”

Wikipedia is not knowledgeable enough to advise me as you did.

(c) Maxi McCoubrey

About the author

Maxi is a songwriter and writer. She uses her time spent in the music industry and the media as sources for her stories.
Her articles have been published in Qutub Minar, The RTE Guide, Poet’s Choice, The Sad Girls Club, The Bangalore Review, The Sixties Book, Ireland’s Own, The Dublin Gazette, In Dublin Magazine, Senior Times, Little Gems and Pioneer Magazine. She has a diploma in creative writing. She is a member of Writer’s Ink.
She lives in Dublin.

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