Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The 2nd Belfast trip

↑ Matthew - doesn't he look much better? ↑

Matthew isn't well and he might not be getting much better, but he's not getting any worse. A new heart defect has been identified and he has digestion problems...but these are not life-threatening problems and he's holding on.

In my opinion, the outlook is quite good; there is no (currently known) reason why he shouldn't come out of this and lead a normal life. Colm had a very difficult 1st year and nearly died but now he's as strong as an ox; Colleen had a near miss cot death, I was told that she probably had brain damage and now she's as healthy as any 25 year old; Collette, who had heart failure before she was born, was not expected to survive more than a few hours, spent her first few months of life on life support...she's expecting her first child in January!

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← Jenna with niece Shannon

I'm so glad I went back to see Jenna and Matthew! Matthew was a lot better and I was able to hold him lots. The feeling I get when a tiny, helpless baby lies in my arms looking up at me with wide, dark eyes... I can't describe that feeling, but it's unique and incredibly moving. Or am I just a soppy softie? - if so, I don't care!

Joseph, Orla and my eldest granddaughter Shannon (14) also had the opportunity to meet Matthew for the first time. Actually, I was really impressed that Shannon was taking such an interest in her newest cousin. Growing up fast, Shannon is turning into a responsible, caring young woman - a granddaughter to be proud of.

With husband Colin currently unemployed, Jenna's family don't have the funds for many days out. I made it my mission to get them out of their house as much as possible. Additionally, with her family's recent relocation, granddaughter Elisha is rather lonely. Joseph and Orla provided her with all-day company. Surprisingly, there were very few arguments.

If this was by an unknown artist, would you hang it in your living room?

We visited the Ulster Museum in Belfast - recently re-opened after a £17m ($28.36m) refurbishment. For a little city, it really is quite an impressive museum. You can see what it has to offer by clicking here. Less impressive for me was the Sean Scully exhibition which occupied all of the art galleries there. I honestly can't see why anyone would buy one of his paintings. - and I wouldn't hang one on my wall if it was given to me free. I know that the general public side with me since the museum was extremely busy and the art galleries almost deserted.

I have visited the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum several times over many years, but have never seen the transport exhibits. My last trip there was no exception: perhaps I'll check it out on my next visit? However, everyone - perhaps especially the children - thoroughly enjoyed exploring the well presented buildings and their period contents. The authentically costumed ladies and gentlemen plying extinct or ancient crafts were simultaneously entertaining and educating.

Every time I visit Ireland, I go to Dunnes Stores for clothes. The prices belie the quality; and the selection is both large and tasteful. Joseph and Orla found much to their liking during our shopping trip, as did I, so we purchased an amazing amount of clothes for an incredibly small amount of money. There was much which Marie would have liked, but surprisingly, Dunnes Stores has no presence online. I couldn't take the risk that any speculative purchases that I would make for Marie would fit and/or please her critical eye.

← Joseph took this portrait of Elisha. You can tell that it wasn't a planned event!

A visit to the excellent Lisburn Pool provided a very enjoyable aquatic diversion which nicely rounded off our trip.

The trip was an unqualified success. Joseph told Marie that he would like to live there; Orla liked playing with Elisha; Elisha cried sorely when we were leaving and keeps asking Jenna when we'll be back; Shannon told me that she had really enjoyed herself; Jenna had a well-deserved diversion and some helpful company (me - excuse the lack of modesty).

So where was the ugly, strife-torn, low-income, depressing Belfast? Still there, of course, but only providing an insignificant background to the good times being had by our little party. Beauty can co-exist with ugliness!

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Joseph wrote a rather good blog post about his trip to Ireland. Click here to see it, and if you would leave a comment, it would thrill him to bits - and perhaps encourage him to keep writing. The blog post was taken from his essay "Half Term Diary" which was his half term homework. During our trip, he took loads of photographs and several are included in his post. His photographic skills are improving all the time.


Paussie said...

Keeping everything crossed for baby Matthew.

Glad you guys have a good time together. In times like this, it really is nice to have strong family around.

*Pops over to Joseph's blog*

Ethereal Highway said...

I have been reading here for a long time, but never left a comment. I must say I think you are a very nice grandfather and I hope the very best for the precious new baby. (I also have agoraphobia and am lucky to have a kind husband like yourself.)

Nechtan said...

Hi Robert,

A great trip for all. Good on you for getting the kids out and about to lots of interesting places.

It is good to heat that Matthew has stabilised. Its difficult to look down at these beautiful little babies and know there is nothing you can do to make things physically better, helplessness. But if family love is a tonic then he'll be fine.

All the best


Robert said...

Thanks all for the good wishes. Matthew continues to hold his own, so the level on my worry meter is quite low.

Thanks again.