Monday, April 18, 2005

Lucky Lola

THERE ARE certain things I will always remember about my wedding day. The first being the sense of nerves as I stood at the back of the chapel awaiting the string quartet to start up and serenade me down the aisle.

The second being sitting in our reception venue and waiting for the after dinner formalities and wondering just how my father would humiliate me in his speech.
I never gave much thought to the other speeches. I had coached my newly-acquired husband on what was appropriate and inappropriate to say and the best man was there with the sole purpose of humiliating my other half, so, with the exception of daddy dearest's wise words, I thought the rest of the speeches would be of no concern to me.
But I never counted on my newly-acquired father-in-law speaking up. Being an older gentleman in his 70s he had figured that having already married off two daughters he had done his wedding speech duty. He was a tad surprised then when his beloved only son informed with just a few moments notice that it is customary here in bonny Ireland for the father of the groom to also say a few words.
Knowing his reticence to speak up publicly, myself and himself resigned ourselves to the fact he wouldn't say a word and were therefore surprised when he reached for the mic (between my father telling everyone about my embarrassing throwing up in the car story and the best man producing an inflatable sheep to remind my other half of his days in Wales).
He proceeded to tell the assembled guests he was "Lucky Dave". He was lucky, he said, because his children were now all happily married and that the sun had shone on each of his children's wedding days.
Funny how, in the passage of time, many of the comments of that day and from those speeches (with the exception of the humiliating vomit story) have blurred somewhat. I remember the gist, but not the actual substance, but I think I will always remember what "Lucky Dave" said.
This was a man whose wife had recently died leaving him devastated, but who was still able to see that, all in all, he was a lucky bloke. His children were happy, healthy and now settled. That was enough for him to consider himself "lucky".
This week those thoughts came back into my head again. Part of my job as a journalist is obviously to meet new people, hear new stories and try and translate those stories onto the page. Like most people, some weeks I find my job easier than others. I can retain my professional detachment and get the job done efficiently.
Other weeks, it is harder and, I suppose thankfully, stories still have a way of getting to me. I guess I wouldn't be human if they didn't, but in those weeks a story becomes much more than an interview before returning to my desk to craft a story for publication.
Changing attitudes
It stays with me, it makes me re-evaluate my life and, perhaps more importantly, my attitude to life. This week I met with 16-months-old Ben Kennedy and his mother Lesley.
Ben, just two months older than my own wee man, was born 15 weeks early and subsequently developed MRSA. His parents feared he wouldn't survive, but he has defied the odds. Life isn't easy though, he has had a tracheostomy to help him breathe and requires 24 hour a day care.
But Ben's illness isn't what I noticed first of all about him. I noticed he was a gorgeous, happy, delightful little boy as every bit as full as mischief and devilment as my own son.
And I realised in that moment, I was lucky. I was lucky that my son is healthy and happy, despite his waking at stupid o'clock in the morning at increasing intervals. I'm lucky that despite his own predisposition for chest infections, he can breathe unaided and tell me "Dove Do" (translation= love you).
And I'm lucky that I work in a job where I get to meet such inspiring people like Ben and his mammy. It's hard to believe some times that I get paid to spend an afternoon playing with someone else's precious child while getting told their deepest fears, thoughts and feelings. It's a privilege to be trusted to write their story and reveal to the world details of their personal lives. Sometimes it does me good to get a big kick up the bum to remember that.
Since becoming a mammy, and especially since returning to work, I have spent way too much time resenting the time I spend away from my son and not fully embracing the things that used to make this job something I loved, rather than something I did to pay the bills at the end of the month.
This week however I got a bit of that old zeal back, that love for the job; that feeling of being privileged to be doing a job others would love; and it felt good.
I'm not saying that given the chance I wouldn't rather be devoting my time to my family, watching dodgy daytime TV and making half hearted attempts at becoming the next Marian Keyes, but all in all I'm pretty damned lucky that while I have to work, it's not the worst job in the world (most of the time).
It's just a shame it took a 16 month baby to make me realise that, all things considered, I really am "Lucky Lola".

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