“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl,
but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Martin Luther King
I didn’t think I’d ever do this. But I did.
One of my mother’s biggest fears was that we would not properly look after her grave.
If you ever visited a German graveyard, you might appreciate her fear. To me, and with some distance, in time and geography, it seems that Germans who mostly live in apartments without gardens, treat their family’s grave as their manicured garden.
I went to the graveyard and cleaned up the grave where she, my father, and my sister are buried. Not with the same dedication as my mother would have done it, but I tried.
For a moment, I shared her fears and dedication to grave maintenance perfection.
Being there was strange. It brought back memories I had forgotten I had. I wondered whether I heard voices. I nearly started a conversation with these distant voices. Something else my mother did when she visited my fathers grave.
A day later, I visited my father’s village and some famous, extraordinarily beautiful places he always wanted to show me but never did. Either he or I were not available, were always too busy.
First, I went to see the Hermannsdenkmal, a monument inaugurated in the 1870s to celebrate the independence and self-determination of the German people. Hermann der Cherusker won a decisive battle against the Romans in 9 AD. Next, it was the Externsteine, one of the most unusual sandstone rock formations in Germany. A lot of myths surround the site. Lastly, we went to my father’s village with its lovely early 18th Century water castle, or Wasserschloss.
I decided to go on this journey because I had learnt the lesson from my father that time can slip away from you. Do whatever you want to do when you can. Seeing the beauty of the places I realised how much my father wanted to share the experience of visiting these places with me. That visit was postponed until I had to go without him.
Pádraig went out to St Pat’s, now DCU, for Culture Night.
A brass band plaid. A lady came over to welcome him saying that it was so nice to see him coming out to Pat’s again with the doors of the place wide open. Pre-COVID Pádraig had attended the brilliant weekly performance of the students of the Department of Music in Pat’s during the semester.
He had a ball.
While life can bring nearly unbearable sufferings, and last week I met with some, life and living have to focus on the good things, on what is possible.
Whatever you do, and however you do it, you have to move forward.