Today, we also wish a happy birthday to three Facebook friends of mine who are celebrating their birthday. We wish a happy birthday to Nick Kirby who lives in Lafayette, Tennessee, USA: Olive Kenneally, and Rory Comer who live in Carlow, Ireland. I hope that you all enjoy your special day and Nick, Olive and Rory, and thank you for being my Facebook friend.
For most of his life (apart from the years he played soccer for the County of Kilkenny, as well as for the first and second Irish national team squads), my dad worked as a miner or an industrial engineering labourer. The father of seven children (of whom I am the oldest), my father was a non-smoking, non-drinking, man of industrious character. He was strict, stubborn, principled, religious, and modest in the extreme. He was a proud man whose word was his bond, which once given, it would never be broken. He was a loving husband to my mother and a good father to his seven children. Dad always saw his prime role as being the sole provider for his wife and children. He lived a hard and honourable life, as did my mother, and because they were so different in character, I do not know how they ever clicked in the first place, but whatever they had going on between them, it stayed with them until they had parented seven children together.
My song today is ‘Some Enchanted Evening’. Some Enchanted Evening’ is from Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical ‘South Pacific’. This is the song that I sing today in memory of the anniversary of dad’s death. It is not surprising that dad loved this song as it has long been regarded as being ‘the single biggest popular hit to come out of any Rodgers and Hammerstein show.’ It is a three-verse solo for the leading male character, Emile, in which he describes seeing a stranger, knowing that he will see her again, and dreaming of her laughter. He sings that when you find your ‘true love’, you must ‘fly to her side and make her your own’.
Please forgive me, but I can never sing this song without literally crying, as it is the song with which I most associate my deceased father (along with Sweet Sixteen) more than any other song. Today is the anniversary of my dear father’s death, Harry Patrick Forde (known as Paddy Forde), who died thirty years ago.
Like my dear mother, every sweat that dropped from my father’s brow from his first day of parenthood had been born in a hard upbringing. His prime effort always remained directed towards putting food on the family table, clothes on the backs of his children, and shoes on their feet. In all traditional ways of the times, my father was the head of the household while my mother was the heart of our home. My parents proudly provided all their children with a code of behaviour and a set of values that stood us in good stead ever since. I have previously written much about my dear father and will merely add these extra comments for the purpose of today’s post. Dad was among the strongest of personalities I ever knew, and to use a good old Irish analogy, he was of his generation’s best crop. He believed fervently in an individual ‘doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage’. He viewed the sweat of a man’s brow and his industrious nature as representing the backbone to their character and the spine of their individual worth.
Dad had two favourite songs which he often sang quietly while bathing the miner’s dust off his body when he returned home at the end of his miner’s shift at the local colliery. His collier’s face always fascinated me. He could wash, bathe and scrub for an hour until I imagined his skin would bleed, and there would still be coal dust hiding in his body crevices and skin pores between the last wash and the next. Years of gradual build-up of black coal dust provides a permanent black-glaze-like undercoat to the skin foundation of every miner in the land. This shiny facial look designates any man carrying these distinctive features as once having worked at the pit coalface. It is like a white man giving you a black smile, an image of racial harmony that I find so endearing as being born in the gratitude of life itself.
Love and peace