Sheelagh's still breaking records at 90
TEN years ago I wrote a story about Sheelagh Carville who at the time must have been a record holder, having known The Irish News since she was a little girl – every day of her life it came into her home.
Now I want to wish Sheelagh a very happy 90th birthday – still a record holder, still making sure she has a copy of this newspaper every day. Originally from the Falls Road and later Upper Dunmurry Lane, she was brought up in a family where the paper was delivered every day.
When she got married and set up her own home she continued to get the paper and was immensely proud of the fact that she never missed a single edition. Her son-in-law, Gerry Mulhern, tells me that the family aren't exactly sure how many editions that would make in total but it must be massive. Can this be a record? Many happy returns, Sheelagh, and may you keep enjoying The Irish News.
CAN TIME HEAL?
Following last week's article about widows needing our support after the death of their husband, I had a number of comments identifying with Marie (not her real name) about her loneliness.
Having no children, she felt isolated and alone and appealed to people to be sensitive towards women who are bereaved in this way.
This from Joyce.
I read your story last week about Marie. I wanted to say something from my point of view. I know what Marie has gone through and it takes a long time to come to terms with loosing a partner. I was young as well – 42 – when my husband died, and what annoyed me was people saying you're young yet, you'll meet someone else. Can you credit it? How insensitive.
It's hard to describe such a loss; there seems to be a hole in your body where your heart and tummy should be. I imagined people could see my face and my feet but that was all of me existing, the rest of me had disappeared.
We had no children and after a couple of weeks I went back to work. After the first few days when colleagues were kind and sympathetic, it all went back to normal and they forgot and probably thought I'd forgotten too. I was desolate – I think that's the right word.
The next stage was running to every event I could get my hands on. Marie's right – where widowers are much sought after for parties and considered ‘eligible', a woman is just the opposite.
I was fortunate to have some good girl friends and we went to the cinema and concerts and then to clubs and pubs that were warm and friendly and it was a reason to get dressed up and put on my make-up and I admit I felt good about being chatted up – at least till I got home and was sitting on my own with a drink before bed and despised myself for betraying my husband talking to other men.
I'm glad to say I got over this stage and settled down a bit, took a night class and began quilting. These took over my spare time and absorbed me. It also meant I had time to sit and think and go over the past in my mind and I think this helped me to come to terms with my loss.
Another thing I'd say, Anne: When this happens there's a lot of organising and without the funeral people I'd have been lost. They know what's expected when it comes to paper work, they'll tell you what you need to get and where to get it – things like death certificates and they'll contact the papers for you.
They take the weight off your shoulders yet you're still involved in making decisions. They'll also advise you if there are benefits you can get on for funeral costs.
There's a great emptiness after the funeral. For a week or 10 days you are working at full pitch and on a sort of a high, then you come crashing down and the little things begin to impact like setting the table for two and then remembering you are only one.
Can you tell Marie and other women who are going through this, it doesn't go away but you learn to live with your new life and make the best of it. Don't worry about what people say – they are trying their best to be kind – but, like Marie says, no-one can know what it's like until it happens to them.
I met a lady when I was on holiday at Lake Garda. She was from Dublin and her middle name was Adelaide. So what? Well, she was called Adelaide because her mother went into labour on the Portadown train just when it left Great Victoria Street Station and the driver stopped in Adelaide station long enough for her mother to give birth! Can you beat that?
IN PRAISE OF PLASTIC
Hats off to minister Mark H Durkan who is proving that improving our environment is top of his agenda with lots of positive things happening throughout the towns, villages and countryside. If this is thanks to the plastic bag tax then brilliant.
In last Thursday's preview of Jane Coyle's new play The Suitcase, the following paragraph was a historical note and not a quote from Jane:
The entry of Hitler's army in 1938 resulted in unprecedented suffering and hardship for Vienna's Jews who experienced extreme and brutal violence, fascist racial laws deprived them of their civil rights, many thousands were deported in most cases to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Trieste and Terezin. Over 65,000 Austrian Jews were murdered in these camps.