Old Hag Death Came Trundling Down

Disbelief At The Death Of Our Great Friend Marianne

The carefree wind is sifting through the wild summer grass all around me, teasing the sparse unruly meadow on my own head … 

Here I stand, scarecrow still, in a field teeming and pulsating, under a sullen summer sky that is shrieking  with life.

No reaper has visited this swaying pasture,  but not far away, the grimmest of them all is still wiping clean his vicious scythe …

His black-cloaked back is turned to the devastation visited on dear, dear Brendan, and the four adult children newly unmoored from their mother.

His beautiful Marianne … their beautiful Marianne … our beautiful Marianne … cut down …

I’m still reeling from it … the obvious tragedy of it, flushed at the wanton, needless cruelty of it 

The chills of affection are running through me now as I consider my own small loss and fail to imagine the vastness of the void that will only open now for Brendan, and the children.

The million and one daily practicals no longer there to sustain and prop him, and them …

Together forty years and more, Marianne and Brendan were only getting into their stride …

Marianne had only recently enough dropped the burden of journalism and other unsatisfactory labours, to follow her own self-deprecating path … walking, singing, writing, for pleasure … and enjoying the beginnings of the new generation.

Her second granddaughter not long born …

And then the illness …

Borne with typical grace and stoicism … but, I suppose, I don’t really know much about that …

So eerie now that misleadingly confident Anglo-Irish drawl filling my head, and echoing down the draughty hallways of my past and recent present … the swish of her long dark-blonde hair and the dramatically widening eyes as another laconic barb found its mark 

Too much … 

Such a dramatic confusion and transfusion of lineages …

Her’s …  parents both English, moved to Ireland … bohemian and practical, organic farmers first … her, an artist and a poet … him, an academic and latterly, purveyor of natural remedies and offbeat theories.

His … no deference conscionable, proudly, nonchalantly Kerry … educator father and proud county football heritage in that place they also call the Kingdom, because they really believe they are Ireland’s — the world’s! — chosen ones.

As renowned Kerry playwright, wit and raconteur John B Keane once put it:

“Being a Kerryman, in my opinion, is the greatest gift that God can bestow on any man. … It is almost unbearable being a Kerryman and it is an awesome responsibility”

JBK Poems BalladsMarianne’s parents, long separated, are both still alive, and in their 90s …

What a combination, Marianne and Brendan ..

Marianne, the graceful, the offbeat, or rather moving to her own discrete rhythm, thriftily elegant, brilliant cook, hostess, mother … and Brendan of the unruly beard and badinage, the unvarnished Kerry brogue failing hopelessly to disguise an equal sophistication and refinement …

Marianne was the essence of tolerance and compassion, and a quiet wisdom was there on tap, but only available if you asked. And funny with it.

Thinking now of her mother, artist and poet, I think of the path she, and all artists, have to thread between sincerest commentary and creative intrusion.

Things I have to think about myself with these words.

I have always had an uneasy relationship with poetry. I rarely seek it out, but while there is nothing as jarring or cloying as a bad poem, the good ones offer gilded glimpses of nirvana, or soften our sorrows with words that transfigure the mundane and light the path to forbearance.

Themes of death, as one might expect of a woman of her age, loom large in the poems I have been reading by Marianne’s mother …

I can only imagine the elder is aware of the irony of her writing on mortality and death from the perspective of a long life already lived, a luxury denied her own daughter …

But her words resonate with me now, like from her poem Sour Apple

“O, little sour apple of knowledge,

You lie in my palm as a pain.

I have bitten and tasted your wisdom,

I’d rather be simple again.”

Or, writing on death, in The Milkman’s Wife, written long before Marianne’s illness …

Old hag death

Came trundling down ….

Why old bitch

Did you take her hand,

0, tell us what’s your meaning,

She’d done no harm

And she hadn’t lived long”

Or, from one called Flight:

“Heaven is only for

a little time.

If eternity ended

I would say, Oh,

that was so short”

It’s so hard, right now, to take in the finality of it all …

I know the passing of the wonderful Marianne, a woman I feel privileged to have known and to call friend, is not my tragedy, really … nor my grief to proclaim …

But, it hurts …

PS: And then I hear that another great friend, Tom, has just lost his brother to cancer. Brendan, aged 54.  How hard it is. Rest In Peace.

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40 comments on “Old Hag Death Came Trundling Down

  1. Michael Andrew Morris

    So so sorry you have lost your friend, Enda. May she Rest In Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have written a beautiful tribute to your friend and eloquently, held up your corner or piece of fabric that is yours to proclaim about your friend’s death and the death of your friend’s brother. Please accept my condolences for these losses. Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much, Michele. Immense losses they are


  4. M so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. I’m sure she’s looking down on you, appreciating this lovely tribute to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my goodness that’s a beautiful, heartfelt tribute. So sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful tribute to Marianne – she sounds like a lovely person who made a deep and lasting impact on your life Enda. I think leaving a legacy like the one you describe is a moving and marvellous thing – something I hope I’ll do when the time comes – and I hope I have a family member or friend who could write about as eloquently as you have about Marianne. I’m also so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She really was special, Leanne. Thanks so much for your expressions of sympathy, These things are so important, I realise as time moves on


  7. I’m sorry for your loss, Enda. Loosing a dear friend is hard. Marianne is looking down on you, smiling , and saying she appreciates your words. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christie Hawkes

    So beautifully stated. May you be well-supported and surrounded by love.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Enda which is never easy at any age. Marianne sounds like a wonderful person and you have paid such a sweet tribute to her. Take care and thank you for sharing at #MLSTL.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautifully written and I too love that poem Sour Apple. I am sorry for the loss of your friend and think you’ve done a lovely job of writing these meaningful words. #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a lovely tribute to your friend Enda, you say it’s not your grief, but when someone is lost the grief is shared, and when it is shared so many it proves that the life, that is no more, had made a wonderful impression on you all. Rest in Peace Marianne, and sending caring thoughts to all that miss her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anne. Yes, there was a lot of grief shared put in the church, the graveyard, and everywhere else we met up these days past. Yes, Marianne made a bit impression alright. Thanks so much fo9r your good wishes


  12. This is a beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry you have lost your friend. She sounds like a person that will live on in many people’s memories in the coming years.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m really sorry for your loss. It is a hard pain to bear at the best of times, and harder still in these weird and strange days. Grief is an echo of love, and a life well lived will reach out across time and physical space, and hold you at moments least expected. Remember her well and often. It does bring comfort after awhile. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is a beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend Enda. Marianne sounds like she was a wonderful woman and this is a beautiful tribute to her. I like the two poems that you shared; they certainly resonated very strongly with me too. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Louise, Yes, she was really special. A dreadful loss to her husband, family and friends. Thanks for your sympathies


  16. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost a loved one Enda. Life really does get shaken up far more than any of us deserve. I hope yourself and Marianne’s family have all of the love and support needed to get through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I feel this post is a beautiful tribute to your friend Marianne, she sounds like a wonderful woman! I love her mother’s poems as well. So sorry for your loss Enda, and her family’s, and for her loosing her life too soon. Why indeed, old hag death…? It feels so unfair when someone is taken early, when we feel they had so much more life to live.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS, hope you come back again next time x

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I feel this post is a beautiful tribute to your friend Marianne, she sounds like a wonderful woman! I love her mother’s poems as well. So sorry for your loss Enda, and her family’s, and for her loosing her life too soon. Why indeed, old hag death…? It feels so unfair when someone is taken early, when we feel they had so much more life to live.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS, I hope you come back again next time x


  19. What a beautiful tribute. Life can be so cruel

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sorry for your loss but what a brilliant tribute #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

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