As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column as published in the Waterford News & Star
FOR the first time in a while I feel some hope for the future. I think it started with the realisation that instead of having to wait for five years or seven years, as they said in the beginning of the pandemic, we now have not one but a dozen vaccines that will work against this awful disease.
Over the last few days, I have heard nothing but good news about our elders who have been the first to receive the community roll out of the vaccine. I’ve heard stories of unadulterated joy, tears and the fantastic care given to everyone by the medical staff administering the vaccines. For so many people it will have been the first public outing they have had in almost a year.
My heart goes out to the families of those who have died. As in my own family, there are regrets and sadness for our older generation who are not here to avail of this great occasion. There are still far too many deaths. But as I said, I am beginning to see some signs of hope, and for the sake of my sanity I’m sticking with that.
The last few weeks have been tough. But it has always struck me that for the first time we are experiencing a trauma together as one planet. I know the “We are all in this together” doesn’t really wash, but we are all taking some pain, facing our demons more than usual and grappling with climbing the four walls instead of going where we please.
‘They came all the way from Kilkenny for those holidays. They never thought of it as a “staycation” at all but rather it was the biggest treat of the year’
After so many days of rain and cold weather, the sun came out and so did hoards of people, frustrated and depleted after these weeks of lockdown. Unfortunately the lockdown is still in place and too many jumped into their cars and decided to breach the 5 kilometre guidelines. The traffic jams on the road between Waterford and Tramore gave the game away and the Gardai were there to turn people back.
We are so blessed to have the Comeraghs, the cliffs of Dunmore East and the Copper Coast within our grasp. It is very hard to limit our enjoyment of our beautiful county. But this is what we have to do because just around the corner there will be weeks of summer and more staycations. Anyone for the holliers in Tramore this year? I mean what could be better?
I’m spending a lot of time looking back these days. I have a mountain of photographs of my own but I also inherited the albums of my Grand Aunt Alsie, born in 1898. It boggles my mind to see her as a small child standing with her dog in the yard. Or to see my Grandfather, her little brother, hanging out on the river or picnicking on the beach.
Imagine my delight when I came across her girlie outings to Tramore. Alsie on the Ladies Slip with her arms around her little pal. Summer 1917 it says. She is fully attired in one of those pyjama swimming costumes. I can’t go to the Ladies Slip now without picturing her there, soaked to the skin, with the big smile we loved.
Or the whole family on Annestown Beach with a parasol over two blonde babies, my Dad and his cousin Aine. Waterford was their destination every summer. 1928 it says. They used to rent a house in Tramore, belonging to someone who my Father always referred to as Baby Grubb. They came all the way from Kilkenny for those holidays. They never thought of it as a “staycation” at all but rather it was the biggest treat of the year. Donkeys on the beach, ice cream, fish and chips; it’s still the same, except for the donkeys.
How lucky are we to live here and have summer holidays in Tramore or Dunmore, or any of a dozen beautiful places, whenever we like!
I feel some hope now because all of this is there waiting for us. And it won’t be a moment too soon for me I can tell you! The simple pleasure of a sandy sambo and a flask of tea is all I look forward to now. And I know I’m not only turning into Peig Sayers now but have D’Unbelievables in there somewhere too…
Our precious elders deserve every bit of the care and love we are showing them as a community. I’m following up close behind them, but as an 86-year-old friend of mine said the other day, I’m only a spring chicken in comparison with them.
Please let’s hang in there for all of them and for our medical professionals who are working flat out for us. We are almost there. The last lap might be the hardest.
Catherine Drea blogs at Foxglovelane.com