Mrs. Mac and meself go back a long way.
I first met and instantly loved this woman sometime in 1975.
I was a young spotty teen, a friend of her equally spotty teen son Noelie, who had brought me home for tea one day. For some reason I suddenly became friends with a whole family. Mother, father, two sisters and his four brothers became lifelong friends of mine!
Over the years I lost touch with Noelie, my friend, but always kept in contact one way or another with most of his family. His youngest brother Donough, who suffered from Cystic Fybrosis, was one of my favourites. Many the hour I spent banging my fists on his back to release phlegm from his lungs, and we would often laugh about it when he was old enough to have a drink with us in the pub. He died before he was thirty, but not before falling in love and getting married. (Strangely, but nicely, I bumped into, and had coffee with his widow today!)
I went to visit Mrs. Mac two weeks ago to invite herself and her husband to my birthday party. It was early evening but she was in bed. She insisted I come upstairs to spend some time with her, and indeed we spent a good while yappin'! (Even though she has been suffering from chronic lung disease for a while now, and breathing can be quite taxing for her at times.)
I got a message from her daughter yesterday to say that she was in hospital and things weren't looking good. So I went to see her tonight. She is in and out of consciousness, but knew me immediately I walked in the room. We had a laugh again together, and she said she was "so sorrry love for misssing your big day"!
Two days ago her family were told that she is in the late stages of a very aggressive cancer. Though they have told her that she has yet another bout of pneumonia.
Her son, my friend who first introduced me to his family many years ago, has not spoken to his family for many years, for reasons I neither know nor care about. Tonight Mrs. Mac took my hand and whispered to me that yes, he has been to visit every day since she's been in hospital. She squeezed my hand tightly and gave me a sad wink as she told me this.