Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.

Elsa Schiaparelli

It’s your turn, they said to me. Thirty eyes were looking at me in expectation and with excitement waiting for me to present my party piece. I had just learned what a party piece is and was still in awe at what my friends, sitting around in a circle in the deep Donegal Gaeltacht, had just presented. Poems, songs, a dance.

My mind went blank. I couldn’t think of my mother’s name, never mind a potential party piece.

My Gaeltacht friends were kind people. They were not going to let me sweat it out. Realising that I was in a bit of a pinch, they helped me out with the only German song they all knew because an RTÉ presenter had been playing it for a while every morning as his signature tune. Erika. It’s a catchy tune alright, tough it comes with a ‘health warning’ on youtube for a reason.

While I was really grateful for the generosity of my friends for giving me a dig out, I was also slightly embarrassed. For several reasons.

I now have a party piece. Though I haven’t had an opportunity to showcase it for a long time.

It’s not a song but the idea is the same. Getting together with family and, unfortunately these days with very few if any, friends. And contributing something.

Last week, we had a few things to remember. Eight years ago, Pádraig’s tracheostomy was removed before being discharged from hospital. We spent two weeks with him in hospital, where they had removed not just the tracheostomy but also all the monitors he had been attached to up to then. The doctors in his ‘main’ hospital had told us that even an attempt or trial removal would be too dangerous. That he could choke and die, in the worst case.

Last week, he shared the paella with us. My party piece.