After days of stillness, a persistent wind blows, loosening blossoms into gutters and rattling treetops and nerves. With it, comes change. Daragh left late last night for Dublin, leaving me to close the bar for the first time. My father-in-law took an awful turn; his aortic valve was severely damaged by a bacterial infection, pumping poisoned blood throughout his body.. He may not survive, and if he does, the quality of his life will be extremely diminished.
Daragh is staying in Dublin with his family while they decide what to do. I open and close the bar tonight. It's weird to serve drink to jovial punters, trying to keep a smile on my face, when I know that an unhappy ending is approaching.
Yesterday was election day and the one-year anniversary of the day voters repealed the 8th Amendment in Ireland. A staunch, behind-the-scenes Fianna Fáiler, my father-in-law would have put on his best suit and driven to Carrick-on-Shannon in the morning, where he'd watch as the votes were tallied while listening to political analysis on Ocean FM. Even as he lay weak and physically diminished in his hospital bed, he had asked if I had voted. His politics favored the farmer, the publican, the small town businessman. If he had been American, he'd have voted for Trump, not that "cunt of an establishment politician, Hilary".
After his excursion into South Leitrim, my father-in-law would have returned for a late night in the bar, perched on his throne of a high chair, discussing the results with his cronies, cracking jokes and calling for another round, while my mother-in-law, framed by glittering glasses and whiskey bottles, would beam behind the bar, at her husband, king of his realm, a patriarch cut from an old cloth that is fast fraying in a modern, increasingly progressive Ireland.
My dog Sam met a new friend on Teapot Lane, Scrappie, a Yorkshire terrier, born on Christmas Day 4 years ago, sold after its owners returned to full-time work. Their 8-year-old son is very sad. So the new owner sent him a photo, and let him chat to the dog over the phone. The terrier is friendly and docile, seemingly blithe to arrive on these unfamiliar streets, far from a certain loving boy. "Welcome to the neighbourhood," I said.