Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kilkelly, in Ireland

I was asked to offer my thoughts and reactions to the song Kilkelly, by Peter Jones, sung here by Mick Moloney. The song was inspired by and the lyrics based on letters sent by a father in Ireland to his son who had immigrated to the States in the late 1800s. It is a beautiful song, both musically and lyrically. I hadn't heard it before and I did enjoy it. That said, I do have some thoughts of a more personal nature conjured up by the story told in the lyrics.

I know well the feeling of a father longing to see his children too far away to visit. I remember so vividly the holiday presents that sat unopened in my own father's room in the nursing home, waiting for their recipients to be able to come for a visit. The difference being, though, that my father's children were across a bay rather than an ocean. I remember having to make up tales of the exploits of his children that kept them from coming to see him. I remember the pain in his voice as he asked about them and the sadness when I admitted not knowing when they would come.

But I also know the joy that burst upon his face when I or my wife arrived or when our niece -- his adopted granddaughter -- showed up. I know the grateful comfort in a lonely man's held hand. I understand the mitzvah -- the gift of being able to do for someone else -- that is caring for someone who has done the same for you.

And still, there is the sadness of knowing someone you love is longing for the sight of his children. In one of the verses of the song, the father asks about the son's work and slips in the subject of a visit: "You say you've found work but you don't say what kind, or when you'll be coming home."

As a father myself, I understand that everyone wants to see their children succeed and make their own way in the world but I also understand the desire to remain a part of their lives. In the late 1800s, when an ocean divides father and son, the separation is poignant but understandable. At the end of the 20th century, when a few miles of water is bridged by high-speed motorways and rail systems, such separation is but cruelty and selfishness.

Like my own, the father in the song "was strong & a feisty old man, considering his life was so hard." My father suffered much in his life but he rarely let it get him down. Even with all he went through, he remained strong and feisty and, as any good father would, loved his children more than anything else, no matter what.

Journal Description

My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.