photo by Cynthia Closkey
My grandfather got a real velvet cap for playing rugby for his county, he was more proud of the teeth lost in a brawl on the pitch. I used to pull his whiskers when he was asleep.
He taught me how to gamble, fruit machines were his vice, I raised a glass of bubbly to him in Vegas when I won twenty thou. I raised a glass of water to him in my sobriety on his birthday this year.
He gave me cooking sherry from the age of eight, it made me “a-meen-able” he said. I remember floating in the ether of nothingness, happily hovering above images I didn’t understand. I have a garden with no shed and I grow vegetables, my children eat from the garden.
He sold dried tray meals that could be reconstituted with hot water, granny would not have them in the house so we ate them in the shed where no one would find us, after the “a-pear-a teeve” and the odd feelings. We don’t speak ill of the dead in Ireland.
I loved my grandfather more than any of my other relatives. He loved me best too. We loved with a passion. He died before I reached thirteen. I cried buckets at the funeral. There was a girl there, she looked like me, she cried too.