ALLSORTS
Life, Living, Becoming...
by
Gerry Coughlan

 Death in the Family

On a cold Saturday morning I woke up late. Well, too late for a Boy Scout trip I was supposed to go on. I ran to my ma's bedroom to find her sitting up in bed with the next door neighbour, Mrs. Keeley, close by. Not usual, this. Next door neighbours only came upstairs if there was something serious, like...

"Come here, Ger. You won't be going to your scouts today. Your dad died last night."

I buried my head in the covers next to my ma and cried but everyone would say that "it was for the best" and "he was out of his pain" and "in a better place than this" and here's me now: "the man of the house". All of 10 and three quarters years old. Thanks very much!

What did I know about anything? Firstly, I blamed the doctors for letting him die and then, in a little courtroom in my head, no less a figure than God himself was found guilty of negligence for letting my daddy who went to Mass every bleedin' day, die.

He'd been in Baggot Street Hospital for a month or so, fading away slowly with failing kidneys and his one arm full of purple spots from the nurses trying to keep him alive on a drip.

It was September 12, 1970.


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