On a Creative Writing weekend in the North Shore of Sherkin Island, facilitated by Margaret O’Connor, seven of us were thrown together to work on our writing skills. One of our assignments over the weekend was to write a short story on a fictitious character called Padraig. We had 40 minutes to do this and came up with seven completely different but equally interesting characters.
My story was based on a letter I received from a woman called Annie (not her real name) who knows someone who has already joined our dating agency. She decided to take the plunge and get in touch with a view to embarking on the prospect of meeting a man who would join her on her journey to find love and companionship together.
This is my offering. Padraig.
My name is Annie. I got your name from a mutual friend and decided to put pen to paper and tell you a little about myself. I have never considered using a dating agency but here we go! I’ll be sixty next birthday and my dear husband Padraig died suddenly four years ago, leaving me to paddle my own canoe. By the time I go used to the shock of his departure, six months had passed by. I remember the moment when it finally dawned on me that he was gone forever. It was Christmas morning and my daughter and her family had called around with presents and kisses and hugs. The youngest one, Sarah, put her arms around my neck and said “Granny, isn’t it strange that Granda isn’t here to ask me what Santa brought me?” in the innocent way that only a six year old could.
It was a combination of her innocence, mixed with memories of other Christmas mornings that caused the lump in my throat and my tears fell freely. My daughter and her husband looked on uneasily as I cried my heart out, my shoulders heaving and a sound erupted from my soul, a moan tearing its ways up and out of me.
Sarah patted me on the back and said “Granda always said you can’t beat a good cry!” We all laughed and the moment passed. There was great healing in it for me and I was able to accept the inevitable and move on. But now I find myself at a junction on the road. I still feel young and hope I have many years left in me. I know you’ll never be able to find someone like my Padraig but maybe there’s someone out there who is at a similar junction in his life, who’s been through the pain of bereavement or divorce and is ready to forge a new path and see where it leads.
Padraig was kind and thoughtful and I was the lucky girl the night he asked me up to dance over thirty years ago! But now I believe he would like me to be happy again; in fact I think he’s up there somewhere having a word with the Good Lord on my behalf! He always wanted me to be happy and used to tell me I had a lovely smile and used to say he was the lucky man in the hall that night when I agreed to get up and waltz with him.
Having written this letter I feel more than ever that the time is right for me to move on and find someone who would be happy to trudge along beside me, a Sunday drive down the country, a show up in the city, a few days away in the West of Ireland. Someone to share the simple joys of life with.