There You Go Love

There You Go Love

“I jumped into the river
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
And all the things I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and futures
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt”


I’ve reached the halfway point in my chemo treatment. Again it was touch and go on Wednesday as to whether my treatment would go ahead. My platelets were low this time, so they had to redo my bloods to see if they’d improved since yesterday, they hadn’t, so then we needed to wait and see if my consultant would OK proceeding with a 75% dose. This was approved, but then my chemo had to be redone in the pharmacy at the new dosage.

So I had a little extra time to have a good think.

I so like a good think. Some people think I’m daydreaming. I do that too.

As I was waiting lunchtime arrived. My taste buds are changing as the treatment goes on and the honey baked ham, gravy, broccoli and mash that I devoured in Cycle 1, is not so appealing in Cycle 2. My nurse Linda came into our treatment room with Mary who was delivering the dinners to see how many were needed. I said I’d just have a sandwich. Linda said I should have the dinner and asked Mary what it was today.

“Roast turkey with stuffing. It’s delicious.”

I said OK.

A moment later Mary came back with a tray, placed it on my table, smiled at me and said :

“There you go love.”

It was delicious. It was served with a lovely turkey gravy, some ratatouille , and some mash.

It was after lunch that I started thinking about all the people who had helped me, with love and kindness that day.

My great friend Gareth had called to my house the previous day at 8.00 and taken my bloods and dropped them off in Monaghan Hospital for collection by the lab in Cavan Hospital, on his way to work. Someone collected them and dropped them to Cavan where a lab technician processed them in time for my treatment the next day.

My Soulmate got up with me on Wednesday morning to take me up to Beaumont. When I arrived on Day Oncology Geraldine and Stephen , the secretaries , checked me in, and I gave them a box of Dinkins cream buns to share with the ward staff during their break. At 10-ish, a lovely lady came around with coffee and madeira cake for everyone. Andrea, one of my nurses, called me after a while, weighed me, took my temperature, my blood pressure, new bloods, and went through how I was feeling generally.

Then Linda, my senior nurse , came to tell me what was happening, reassured me that this wasn’t unusual and that she’d get the Registrar , Ronan, to come and have a chat. Ronan came along presently and went through what was likely to happen. He also went through other aspects of my history and near future, without and notes or files.

Another of my nurses, Aine, got me bottles of water throughout the day. And while I’m sitting there the lab technicians downstairs are testing my new bloods and the pharmacists are preparing my chemo…twice as it turned out. And the chefs in the kitchens are preparing my food and coffee.

Linda constantly popped in to let me know what they were waiting on. Eventually we had to wait on Mr.Murphy to confirm with Ronan that we could go ahead. He said yes. A lady in green constantly came in topping up all the supplies in the mobile caddies for the nurses. A young lady in pink came around in the afternoon with more tea , coffee, cake, biscuits and sandwiches. She asked everyone what they wanted , gave it to them, and then before she moved on to the next patient she looked at you and said, “And are you OK ? All good ?”. It was such a lovely thing to say.

My other other nurse Lilith then came to start my chemo.

That’s 20 people, that I know of that helped me on Wednesday. It’s a little overwhelming when you think about it. And I do.

“There you go love.” It’s a beautiful , simple, and yet powerful, phrase. Don’t you think ?

I also thought about our dear neighbour Granny Rosaleen who passed away last weekend, when I wrote this :

“A sad day today as we found out last night that our wonderful neighbour Granny Rosaleen had passed away.

Rosaleen was the first person to visit us when we moved here and made us incredibly welcome , which we have never forgotten.

Perhaps because of our surname and the distinct lack of religious iconography I think she suspected we were Protestants! But she overcame her hesitations and put us on the Parish envelope list, and diligently hand delivered them to us every year despite the fact that we never used them.

We were invited to every single family event she hosted. Our kids , and Eileen always referred to her as Granny Rosaleen.

Eileen and Rosaleen had a great fondness for each other . I think Rosaleen felt that I was certifiable and thought Eileen was a living saint. She was right.

Her children and grandchildren are among the mightiest people you’d ever be fortunate enough to meet. They are our friends.

Thank you Granny Rosaleen… for everything.”

I suspect that she told our local Parish Priest, Fr.McCluskey, that we needed saving. They were great lifelong friends.

Elliott was born some months after we moved in, Robyn was 3 and Jake was 5. Bedtime with two toddlers was always a challenge. On a lovely bright summer’s evening I was trying to get them to go to sleep by reading Room On The Broom, with different voices for the narrator, the witch, the cat, bird, dog, frog, and the dragon. I usually had to read it three times and then I sat in the room with them, occasionally whispering a ‘Shsssh, go to sleep.” whenever I spotted one of them opened an eye to see if I was still there.

I eventually left the room , satisfied that they were asleep, and went downstairs to find my terrified , silent Soulmate sitting in one armchair , and a happy looking, but silent priest, sitting in the other armchair. I introduced myself and he did likewise. It was Fr.McCluskey.

As soon as I sat down my Soulmate bolted for the door saying “ I hear someone crying”. She did not return. I offered Fr.McCluskey tea, coffee , water, and eventually whiskey. All were refused. I tried to start conversations about the parish, the school , the local GAA club , the Sean McDermotts, current politics, hobbies, horseracing, pidgeon racing, the Pope…Everything was answered with one word answers, and there were large periods of silence in between. The only issue he did bring up was that the space above the mantlepiece in this room , which was currently adorned by a large mirror that had taken me a good two hours, several ruined drill bits, and a piece of my very soul, to put there, would be better for the Sacred Heart picture rather than the kitchen. I laughed, finally , a semblance of humour.

“We don’t have one there either, or anywhere.”

His happy expression disappeared.

“You can get one in Veritas on Park St.”

This was the closest we had come all evening to an actual conversation in the now 90 minutes he’d been here. He got up to leave, so I thought I’d better ask him to bless the house, to make him feel better.

“I’ll come back and do it when you have the Sacred Heart.”

He left and I went upstairs to find my Soulmate having a bath.

“I hate you !”

She laughed. “No you don’t , you love me even more.”

She was right again.

He never blessed the house. Although he was an unwavering support at different times when Elliott was ill, when my SoulMate’s father was ill, and when I went through difficulties of my own, he quietly reached out to offer support.

Granny Rosaleen also had a cameo role in another family incident that same summer, which we refer to in the family as the “Magic Stone Affair”.

Our family car was a lovely shiny metallic green Renault Scenic that we’d had in Belfast. I t was a leased car and was due to be returned in a few weeks, so we were driving it sparingly and it was polished to within an inch of it’s life to maximise the settlement value. On a beautiful sunny Sunday evening Jake announced that he needed blank paper to take to school the next day for a project, so he and I headed to our office , which was in one of the old cottages in the village , near the bridge. We pulled up and said hello to a group of young teenagers that were sitting on the windowsills. I said hello to them and Jake and I went in and got some blank A4 paper and came out a few moments later. The young teenagers were leaving heading over the bridge and laughing about something.

We went home and went inside. My Soulmate called me to ask what had happened the car. I went outside to see that the length of the passenger side, across two doors , was scraped with squiggles  and wavy lines. I rubbed some of them, hoping it was chalk. It wasn’t. I was livid and went back in to get the keys so I could go back to the village to see if I could catch up with the teenagers, whom I was convinced were the culprits.

When I came out Jake was sitting on his hunkers, shaking his head , and said, “ It may have been the Magic Stone.” A series of questions were fired , Gatlin Gun style, at Jake and he ran upstairs.

I went inside and sat down.

“Don’t get too comfortable, all of the toilets are backing up again.” My Soulmate said.

They can’t be ! We had the septic tank emptied on Friday.

“Have a look outside.”

I went outside there were puddles of lovliness at the manhole cover outside the kitchen window and at the corner of the house where the pipe turned before going about 30 metres gently undergound to the septic tank. I went to the shed, cursing loudly and got out Dad’s drain rods with the circular pushy bit at the end. I put on two sets od gloves and started to push the lovliness down the pipe. I seemed to be making some progress, but every litre of lovliness that was pushed forward was backfilled by the draining overflowing everything from the house. When I had reached the last drain rod and secured it to a cement block to stop it being sucked in, nothing had really changed.

I went down into the garden and removed the lid of the septic tank. It was empty and practically dry. I could see, by bravely sticking my head in there that there was a trickle of lovliness hissing it’s way into the tank. Something was clearly blocking the pipe there. I also discovered that unlike a traditional septic tank which usually have two large waving pipes either side of the lid to aerate everything. One of our pipes was a metre closer to the house than it was to the septic tank.

I’d no idea how deep it was before it formed a t-junction with the pipe coming from the house, but whatever was blocking the pipe was between this t-junction and the tank, so I’d have to dig down to it.

So I did. It took ages, because it ended up being about six feet down, and I’m rubbish at digging. I was waist deep in my hole when I could hear Rosaleen calling from her garden next door. I climbed out. I was covered in wet mud.

“What’s wrong ?”

Septic tank is blocked.

“Didn’t you empty it on Friday ?”


“You haven’t filled it already ?” she asked , laughing.

NO !

“Do you want me to call Kieran ?” she offered. Kieran , her wonderful son, and neighbour on the other side.

NO !

“Are you sure ?”

YES. Better get back to it.

I hopped back in and spent another hour digging a wider and deeper hole. It ended up being big enough to bury a three piece set of furniture. When I got near the junction of the up pipe and the pipe from the house everything became pungent and lovlier, but I couldn’t risk using a shovel in case I cracked the pipe , so had to hand scoop out the last foot or so.

Eventually I was able to clear around the junction and prise out the up pipe , a little fountain of lovliness, gushed out as high as my knee, before settling down and soaking below, to hell , I imagine, where it must of come from in the first place , because no humans could ever produce that.

I clambered out, and fell back, there was a large splodgy sucky sound, and I shouted out “JESUS F#CKING CHRIST !”

“Are you alright Paul ?” Rosaleen was back in her garden.

YES ! I roared clambering out.

She stared at me in horror. I was more lovliness than man now.

“I should have called Kieran. How’s it looking ?”

I put my arms out and did a twirl, and said ‘Magnificent ! Do you want to come over and have a look ? Very interesting engineering.’

“You’re alright. It’ll be dark soon, you better hurry up.” And she waved goodbye.

I started to cry.

Everything had settled down in the pit of despair, so I jumped back in , and shone a torch into the pipe, and there it was , a large stone, diamond shaped, big enough to hold in your hand, looking for all the word like a Neolithic stone tool…covered in shit. Our shit. The Magic Stone.

It was the perfect size to drop down that up pipe and then with a little pressure slide to the end of the pipe where it wedged against a splash wall. I had a metal clothes hangar and fashioned a hook to try and drag it back towards me. This took another half hour. It was now 10pm , pitch dark and the torch light started to blip, but it had started to move. I got my hand to it, then threw away the hanger and used both hands to lift it very gently, before smiling and admiring it looking at it like Indiana Jones in that opening scene as he gazes at the Aztec gold little god.

I snapped back to attention as the pent up lovliness whooshed into the tank, and into my hole. I hurriedly replaced the up pipe, and sauntered up the garden , considering myself a GOD ! A brave , clever GOD.

I replaced all of the lids and covers and went to go in the back door after stripping down to my undercrackers. The door was locked. I put my boots back on and went to the sunroom door, locked . And the front door. Locked.

No lights were on downstairs. I threw a pebble at our upstairs bedroom window, my Soulmate opened the window and started laughing hysterically.

“This is  a new look for the Chippendales !”

Very funny. The back door is locked.

“I know. Didn’t want you sneaking in until you’d cleaned yourself.”

With what ?

“The hose !”

JESUS CHRIST ! I’m freezing !

“Sssssh ! You’ll wake the children. You can hose yourself down and come in, or you can pop over to Granny Rosaleen.”

I was tempted. They had a range in the kitchen, and she was so lovely, normally.  I walked towards the gate.

And then I got a whiff of myself. I couldn’t do that to anyone.

I hosed myself down. I eventually dropped the hose when my hands were so cold that my fingers had gone white and seemed to be stuck together. The back door opened and a waft of heat hit me and I ran towards it, or hobbled really, my toes were also white and stuck together.

“What was it in the end ?”

Jakes’s Magic Stone.

She laughed hysterically, handing me a cup of tea, and two warm towels.

“There you go , my Love.”



Author: paul

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