Beach, all alone, eye watering blue sky and the sun shining to warm the bones …. the lap, lap of quiet water.
Yup, that was me August ’05 on one of the Exmouth beaches where I visited my brother Sean, his family and my Mum. I get to see my family about every 2 or3 years and I spend at least a week with all of them … 3 brothers, 1 sis, 2 step bros, a Mum, Dad & Step Mum. They live in Perth, Exmouth, Karratha and Wickham – all in West Australia and multi multi hundreds of kms apart. My stepbro Marc lives in Singapore – another place I have come to love.
When I was in Exmouth I would borrow my sis in law Wendy’s bike and just wander along a few dirt tracks to the beach, and then sit for a while. I was usually the only one on the beach and I loved it. That photo was taken the day before I was due to leave Exmouth and travel further North to visit another brother Liam and my sis Siobhain. The photo speaks to me of not only the peace and the sunshine I felt but also the leave taking from people I love very much.
Here in Ballinamore on a quiet winter’s Sunday I’m sitting by the fire and I know this is where I want to live and thrive – and – the cost of that choice is that I only get to see my family and friends in Oz every few years. Now, this is not about regrets or sadness – it’s more about the reality of the choices we make for ourselves. I choose to live in a rural town in Ireland – a place that even people in other counties haven’t heard of – for many reasons. I also feel very privileged to have been brought up in the family I did – in Oz. So, when I do visit the crew in Oz and Singapore, I savour all the time we spend together – probably more than some people who see their families all the time.
I must have done something really right in a past life because I was born into a family that is priceless. One of the great gifts our parents gave us was to encourage us to think for ourselves and make our own choices (and accept the consequences). As a result my siblings are all real individuals who live their lives with enormous integrity. We have a real respect for each other and the welcome they give me whenever I visit them is a gift that I hold very close to my heart.
Another gift my folks gave us was a sense of responsibility beyond ourselves and each of us has realised that in very different ways. The commonality amongst us all is a generosity of spirit that delights me and confounds a lot of people. They just don’t understand the real pleasure we get from giving . And, we all are well able to be generous to ourselves.
Forget about what goes around comes around – I’ve never been that interested in the feedback factor. But I do enjoy watching my sibs when they have barbcues and the real enjoyment they get from the people …. and the food. My bros and dad all have secret recipes for marinades for barbcue meat – and they’re pretty damn good. And when people arrive there is a real enjoyment in making them feel welcome. All my sibs have their particular brand of charm and wicked senses of humour – so you never know what’s going to happen.
So, as I sit by the fire on this winter Sunday I’ve written something I wasn’t expecting … a sense of the family I love. And in remembering all the fun times I have with them I feel them close by me. And I know they think of me and we all look forward to the next time we meet. I’m particularly looking forward to my bro Sean’s emu impressions … but that’s another story and I think I’ve even got a short video … be afraid little brother …