Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 30, 2012

“You Are Welcome Home!” The Night Before…

We would be gone for a while, and one never knows what to pack, especially for a trip in the autumn anywhere, but especially so for a trip to Ireland.  Sweaters and jackets, or coats and heavy shirts?  Lighter shirts?  Windbreakers? An umbrella or two?

Nah!  The rain in Ireland is always gentle.  It’s the wind all the way from Canada or Greenland with nothing but a high wave to hold it back that gets you.  But those breezes won’t bother us in September.  I was sure of that.  Even so, just to be damn sure…  Well, what’s the use of packing if you can’t have a special session of the legislature and debate what to bring and what not to bring.

To complicate the matter further, on this trip we would be staying at some four star hotels for the first week.  Up here in Cow Hampshire folks don’t think much of four stars on anything but ski slopes and motorcycle races, baked bean recipes and apple picking.  And, I would have thought the same of Ireland twenty, thirty years ago.  But things have changed over there, and the pictures accompanying the ads we got from the travel company, Sceptre Tours, made me wonder if we’d both look like Minnie pearl in some of these places.

Why didn’t I glom my father-in-law’s tux when he exchanged it for a robe and wings back a few years, I thought as I lugged the suitcases up from the basement and brought them into the bedroom which had begun to look like the south of England must have looked on June 5th, 1944.  All I have is an almost 30 year old suit and a blazer that saw thirty years about ten years ago.  Let them stay comfortable where they are I decided as I gazed at the mess in my closet.

I had removed most of the contents of my bureau and arranged them, more or less neatly, in pile of similar articles of clothing, on one side of the bed: underwear, socks, shirts and trousers (do we still use the word?) a lonely bathing suit on top of my pillow possibly wondering what it had done to deserve exile.  Mariellen had done the same with her side of the bed; though her pile was a bit more tall than mine with all those dresses, you know.  On the top of her dresser were neatly arranged a selection of crosses…the only “fashion accents” she wears…which she would choose to highlight whatever she was going to bring with her on the trip.

For the next hour or so we picked up, shook out, folded, put in, took out, put away, took back, measured, consulted, packed, moved around, compacted and, finally with me holding each completed piece and stepping on our patient bathroom scale to get the tare weight of each piece of luggage weighed, sighed and finished.  We had done it; packed  for a good two week’s trip in two suitcases, one large and one small, and two carry- ons everything we would need for a month away.  After three or four “removes” the bathing suit made the last cut and got to go.

The job done, I looked around at what we weren’t taking, thinking briefly that this would be a good time to slim down, select what might be put to better use down at the Salvation Army or the Grey Nuns Thrift Store, and said, as I’d said so many times before in my best Scarlett tone of voice, “That can wait until tomorrow.”

Back it went though, all the unpacked stuff, in about the same condition and place it had been before its temporary deployment in the forward staging area on the broad Bed Plains.  Now we could go to sleep.  The only things left to pack were toothbrushes and pills.  Pills, God love ’em, the sure sign of becoming a Human Being Emeritus, might need a suitcase all their own, don’t you know.  But, we couldn’t do any of that until after breakfast in the morning where the first curse is always a delicious plate of capsules and tablets, some of which are large enough the hollow out and seat a party of warring Maoris or Vikings.

They would be the final load for the large suitcase, lying open on the floor beside the bed.  I left about five pounds for pills, and that’s only a slight exaggeration, during the last weigh-in on the bathroom scale which nearly crippled me.  I’d had to do it twice because on the last time’s first try I had stepped on wrong and had gotten the discreet beep and flashing error message.  Left foot, right foot, is the way it likes to have things done.

It was about 10:00pm on September 8, about time to go to sleep.  I remember thinking that tomorrow would be the first day of my twentieth trip to Ireland, and wondering how many more I had left; certainly not another twenty.  Were that the case, I most definitely would need a suitcase for pills alone halfway through that number.  Perhaps establishing a forward staging area for pills somewhere near Shannon Airport might be a good idea I remember thinking as I was slipping into dreamland.

I certainly did not dream about traveling, nor did Mariellen if memory serves, but I did sleep well, knowing I was going to my favorite place to go to with the best company I could hope for on such a trip.


  1. […] was a good day to start a trip. (You may read  here and here two earlier bits about this trip.)  The weather was fine, just fine, thank you, God.  There were […]


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