Childhood memories seem to feature Christmas and the summer without much in between, none of them were very exciting or eventful. The Christmas memories become a conflation of varying years, people make anachronistic appearances and all the presents come at the same time. Summer memories are of sunshine. It must have rained sometimes, but if it did, the memories of wet days are repressed deep in the psyche.
Coming in from a meeting, a message was written to call a friend about arranging a rendezvous next week to talk about finding funds for work in Rwanda. It is a cheerful conversation, despite the deepness of the recession, Irish people are very generous and sums well into five figures have been raised. Challenges and opportunities are listed, as well as intractable problems. Most of next week’s business is already done by the time the call is over.
“I must get on with some work”.
“Have you looked at the time?”
I looked at my watch, it was just before 10 pm.
“I have now. I’ll get a bit more done. It’s quiet at this time of the night”.
Starting to list grant applications from overseas aid groups, the time seems happily spent. Trying to visualize the people who are involved in the projects is reassuring; it says that there are still good people in the world; that the news media that depict the world as a simply bad place have covered only half the story.
10.30 comes and the list is complete and all the applications have been numbered. The Internet connection is very slow late at night and it takes ages to upload all the papers to email to the church headquarters for distribution to committee members.
Maybe it is time to call it a day. There is great contentment in completing the task and pressing ‘Send’. Now I am only about a day behind with the week’s work, but I love what I do.
Outside there is rain and sleet. It’s a night deep in winter rather than one in early spring.
Looking through the raindrops on the window at cars going down the dual carriageway, memories of my Grandad come back. A wet and dark Boxing Day night when I was I don’t know what age. The trifle and cake and the other good things had been finished and he had declared it was time to get on with his work.
He put on an old brown coat which he tied around with twine, pulled his familiar cap onto his head and stepped into a pair of Wellington boots, before picking up the hurricane lamp he had lit and stepping out into the darkness. It was cold and raining and the barton was deep in mud, but the cattle needed checking. The cattle made no exception for the fact it was Christmas.
It always seemed a hard way to end the day, but, four decades later, the thought occurs for the first time, that maybe he loved what he did.