Some might remember my Geraldine story from Ireland a couple of months ago. In the midst of learning about sectarianism in Belfast, moving my stuff to Glasgow, and getting to know Scotland, I neglected to tell you the rest of that story.
When Geraldine and I hung out at Kylemore Abbey, she encouraged me to come visit her in the very tippy point of south west Ireland. I was very tempted to take her up on it but my time was getting pretty limited before having to head to Scotland.
On a sunny afternoon I was contentedly writing when my phone rang. It was Geraldine calling to reissue her invitation. Seemed meant to be so I rolled with it and agreed.
6 days later I found myself in her parents home. Her father passed away two years ago and her mother is in a memory care home. I met her nephew, a good lad going to university. Before long we headed out further west into rural Ireland where she currently lived.
In her home I saw her beautiful patio garden. She showed me her final project for her arts degree- clay coffee cups that were arthritis-friendly with a large base instead of a handle.
We spent the next day visiting the beach she played at as a child and wished her mother “Happy Birthday” in big, sprawling letters drawn in the sand.
We saw her mother’s childhood home and her father’s birthplace. I gave her some privacy as she placed fresh flowers on her father’s grave. Even in the distance, I could hear her sing to her father.
We talked about life, love, and the meaning of it all. Two virtual strangers having conversations I haven’t had with some of my oldest friends.
To be welcomed into someone’s life in such a deep way was almost overwhelming. Someone whose life had been so different from mine and yet not different at all in ways that really matter. I found myself immersed in generations old stories and thoughts for the ages.
Geraldine’s hospitality was warmer than a peat fire on a winter night. Her kindness is already one of the most memorable parts of this journey. As a thank you I sent her a copy of my favorite book on creativity – Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.
I’m pretty sure she and I already created Big Magic of our own though.