Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Blue Plastic Bucket

If you were to visit my house and wished to use the bathroom I'd probably direct you down the corridor to the ''Children's Wing''  Shower-room.  The phrase ''Children's Wing'' has a story all its own.

You might notice a small sky-blue/turquoise bucket on the floor.  Nothing significant to notice.  It's just a plastic sand-bucket a small child might have at the sea-side.  These days it serves to hold a can of aerosol, and some bathroom odds and ends.  As I said, nothing significant, nothing remarkable........perhaps you've been in that room and not even noticed it.

It was June 2007, after battling bone cancer for 15 years Joy was thrilled to be in Fethard, her favourite place on earth.  She was very thin, somewhat frail but I remember that she laughed so much that summer, just threw her all into what were to be her last months among us.

That year we spent time in Fethard for parts of June, July, August, September and October.  It was the year of the Elephants, it was also the year of the Blue Bucket.  When we take up residence in the Bungalow each year the first thing I do is go to the local shop and buy a big bunch of flowers, I add foliage and wild flowers to these and we're ''home''.   In the absence of vases I use the coffee pot, cut-down drinks bottles, anything.  that year, as I wandered around Dillons Londis I spotted a tower of colourful buckets beside a stack of spades and boogie-boards.  I took a yellow one in one hand and a blue one in the other, closed my eyes and liked what my mind saw......the blue bucket sitting on the mantle with flowers spilling out all around it.  I brought my bucket back to the house where it served its puropse holding a succession of lilies, honeysuckle, dog-daisies and poppies.

We left Fethard in the middle of July and I brought my bucket home.  Three weeks later we returned to the Bungalow and Bucket came too.  That summer was beautiful, yes it did rain but we were blessed with days of sunshine.  How often we do things, experience things, not knowing that it's to be the last time.

Joy was always first into the water with us young ones.  She loved bracing the rollers on Pettis and enjoyed walking through the water all the way along the beaches.  We think life will stay the same.  That summer, 2007 Joy made it down to the beach a couple of times.  On Duncannon we could just drive onto the beach.  Sadly the majestic Atlantic beaches, our favourites....Pettis and Sandeel were just impossible for her.  One beautiful day that August, Juliet was also with us, Mum and I took Joy to Grange beach.  She managed the slope slowly with her stick and leaning on Juliet's shoulder.  We made ''camp'' at the bottom of the slope ann mum and Joy sat in their chairs while Juliet and I threw ourselves into the sparkling sea.  I swam out a bit and, looking back to shore, saw the tiny figure of Joy sitting happily, holding up the childs umbrella she used to shade her delicate skin from the sun.  I treaded water and waved.  I can still see her as she waved back at me, something in her wave made me know she was smiling, smiling wistfully.  I came in and dropping down beside her told her how lovely the water was.  Her feet were swelling in the heat and from her illness and I so wanted her to be able to dip them in the sea.  I grabbed the blue bucket and brought it down to the waves.  I went back and forward pouring the cool, refreshing sea-water down her shins as she closed her eyes in bliss.

The tide was almost fully in and I saw some children running, squealing from the water.  There were jelly-fish  and small crabs everywhere.  This sometimes happens at high tide in the evening.  I grabbed Blue Bucket and ran into the sea and managed to scoop two small sapphire blue jelly-fish into the brimming bucket.  They swam round and round the bucket like little jets, filling up, puffing up then scooting forward.  It was beautiful and I had to share the moment.  Mum had gone for a paddle, Juliet was sun-bathing and I held the bucket on Joy's lap.  She gazed in at the lovely water-dance taking place.  It was a special, precious few moments.  Because of Blue Bucket I was able to bring the sea to my beloved Aunt.  Soon the crabs were everywhere and all the children ran to safety.  I grabbed Old Bluey and somehow managed to dive head down and eventually I caught a small crab and, delight of delights, a hermit-crab in my hand.  I slipped them into the bucket and ran to show them to Joy.  As she watched them her merry smile turned wistful and she asked me to pour some more water on her feet.  I put the crabs back into the water and gave Joy what was to become her last feel of the mighty sea on her limbs.

We returned to Fethard twice more, packing so much happiness and so many memories into the days.  Joy was never happier.  Bluey was always there....either holding flowers or being used to carry things.

On October 18th we returned to Fethard.  Mum, Joy, their friend Ida and me. There was a big party planned in nearby Horetown House for my Mum's 80th birthday.  Joy had been busy for weeks planning this treat for her sister.

On Friday night just before going to bed Joy went over the seating-plan with me........the following morning at shortly after 7am Joy layback into my arms where I was sitting on her bed, gave one short breath, closed her eyes and died.  I washed her hair for the last time before laying her on a snow-white pillow where family and friends could come to say their farewells....Blue Bucket carried the water I used to rince the shampoo from her lovely head.

Next time you see something somewhere.  Something insignificent, unremarkable......you never know what stories it could tell.


  1. Karin - you should write a book - you have such a gift for narration. It is beautiful!