It's 11 years today since my friend Catherine passed away, aged 41, so today's post is for her.
Catherine was the first person I spoke to on the day I started teaching. I was very nervous, especially as I knew that I would have a Leaving Cert class, and I was only 20! I was worried about maintaining control in the classroom, but Catherine put my mind at rest, assuring me that all would be well. And it was.
We both wanted to get fit, so we joined a squash club. The club had a good coffee shop, so instead of playing squash and losing weight after school, more often than not I persuaded her to go for coffee (first, just to give us energy) and apple tart -with cream, of course, as we were about to burn off huge amounts of calories. Then we'd start chatting, and before we knew it, a couple of hours had passed and we needed to go home. Catherine taught a number of night classes, so staying late for the game was not an option.
When Catherine got married, she catered, with the help of close friends, for 75 guests herself. We stayed at her home place for a week before the wedding, and the day before was such fun - balling melons (does anyone remember the popularity of melon balls in creme de menthe?) and peeling mushrooms. I have never since peeled a mushroom , but that week I did it for her.
When Catherine learned that she had a brain tumour, she took the news with her characteristic courage and no-nonsense attitude. She would fight this battle with natural methods, and she would win. There was very little "natural" treatment available, so in the end she resigned to radiotherapy.
She continued to teach up to the Easter holidays,the last school day before she died. She was a gifted teacher, and her pupils loved her and admired her, as did her colleagues and friends.
Her grave is in Co. Meath, on a beautiful hillside beside a field where lambs run around in springtime.
We were priveleged to have known her. Ar dheis Dhé go raibh a hanam (may her soul be a God's side)