These are strange days. Eight years ago were also strange days. Bert's father was dying. Had he survived he would have been the same age as my father is now.
Thirty-one years ago there were other strange and dangerous days. Pregnant with my first child I was fearful of the world into which I was bringing an innocent child. Ulster was at war; the Ulster Worker's Council strike was in full swing. I remember walking up our road on a thunder-threatening evening feeling a sense of complete dread about what the future would bring.
The first horrific news was that a young man from Cargin had been abducted and murdered. Our family knew his family. My sister knew him personally. He was a student at Queen's and it was thought he'd been hitchhiking when the people who ultimately klled him lifted him. Daddy and my sister attended the funeral, which was huge as funerals of those who die untimely deaths are. Several of Daddy's brothers also attended. It is told that one of my uncles remarked to another mourner on the size of the funeral. He is also supposed to have said that he hoped not to attend such a large funeral again. Within days he and another of my father's brothers had been shot dead in their pub as a direct consequence of the Ulster Worker's Council strike. Their funeral was massive.
Bert's father was laid to rest on June 1st, 1997. He was a good man. The day he was buried was dry and hot. The Crinodendron hookeranium was in full bloom. I will always associate those waxy lantern shaped flowers with that day. I wish he could have been with us longer but there are so many people who have not had the opportunity to see their beloved fathers and sons grow older. That is why I'll always be grateful for this extra time we've had with Daddy.