Catching the Sleeping Weasel
One day while Kevin was standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to pay for our items, I noticed the store had ice cream cones for sale next to the checkout counter. I asked about the price, and because it seemed fair, I placed an order for one. The woman who handed me my cone noticed Kevin standing next to the counter, lost in thought. She knew we were together. “Shall we have him pay for it?,” she asked.
Just then, Kevin finally noticed what was going on and looked up. “Oh, yeah, I know her,” he said. “I guess I can pay for it.”
The woman smiled. “Around here,” she told me, “that’s what’s known as ‘catching the sleeping weasel.’”
One thing that surprised me about Ireland was all the hedgerows lined with fuschias. First, I have never seen fuschia bushes that large, and second, I don't recall seeing fuschia hedgerows in the UK. Did I miss them, or are fuschia hedges unique to Ireland?
A friend suggested that I check out the local papers during our stay in Ireland. I always like doing that—I used to like reading The Leavenworth Echo for its police blotter, which, because the town has very little real crime, was always amusing. (“A man with beady eyes was seen hanging around the Chevron station” or “there was a report of a dog barking on the Camp Four Road.”) So when I got to Ireland, I thought I knew what to expect.
The local paper from County Cork was full of the usual articles, found in small newspapers everywhere: reports of young people winning school prizes, annual festivals, boaters rescued, and community meetings. But there were also pages—and pages—of death notices and memorials.
What surprised me was that the memorials were not only for those who had recently passed away, or who had died only a year ago. Some of the memorials were for people who had been gone for 19 or 20 years, but the anniversary of their death was marked just the same. Some were having masses said for the departed, but others simply noted how keenly the person was still missed.
I have seen memorial notices in U.S. papers too, but nothing quite like that. Many of these tributes take up several column inches, so they must have cost the family some money, even in a small newspaper. Often, in other cultures (for example, the Mexican Day of the Dead or ….) those who have died are never too far away from the consciousness of others; they are still part of the family in a very real way. Life is for living, and grieving too long can keep us from moving ahead, but still, sometimes in American culture, it seems we forget too quickly. There must be some comfort in knowing your family will mark your life in this very public way for years to come, reinforcing that your life had meaning in the community.