by Sr. Sheila Devane MMM Ireland 24.09.2023
It was such a wet day last Wednesday. I wasn’t sure whether or not to go out to Mass. I went and then wondered how I would alight from the car at the church. The ground was flooded. I managed, attended Mass, drove home, and got into the driveway in front of the house to see out of the corner of my eye a large brown parcel filling the front of the porch. I forgot the rain, the severe weather and all the things I had planned to do. The postman had left a parcel. My next-door neighbours were all at home, so this wasn’t a delivery for them. This was a gift for me. I quickly went into Gift Overdrive! Who are the friends who send gifts at odd times of the year? The one or two who send large parcels with a pair of earrings or a small cosmetic or a book but insist on wrapping it in a large box for fun! I do the same myself! I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to get to the porch.
I was so excited when suddenly out of nowhere Fiona appeared at the car window; the rain had stopped. I rarely meet her but here she was full size and in person. She gave me a blow-by-blow account of her mother’s on-going health treatments; I didn’t know Maura was so ill but now I know every single detail, and even the Christian names of a host of consultants. I know who is friendly, who is business-like, who has given his personal phone number and who is a real saint. I kept thinking of the parcel. I felt guilty as Fiona had a captive audience in me, needed to talk and the story was serious, sad, and awfully long. It could have gone on all day. But I wanted to get to the parcel!
Just as we parted company, I saw an email on my phone from Ballyroan library. I asked myself: “is this an overdue book, or one of the two I ordered?” It was both. T he amnesty on fines has finished so I decided to renew the overdue book immediately to avoid a fine; it took a few minutes and then I pressed the wrong key on my phone and lost the message. I had to start all over again, and it took what felt like ages and ages. I succeeded. But the parcel…
Finally, I was opening the porch door to the biggest parcel I ever received. I t was lying flat on the ground with no name obvious on top. I touched it with my foot – it was as heavy as lead. I couldn’t find the address and then saw it was on the side, but I couldn’t reach down to it. I put my phone to the side to try and take a photo of the sender’s name, and my own too, I hoped. As I lent down I saw the writing across the top of the parcel “Petmania.” Oh gosh the penny dropped! This was something or other to do with a pet or with a whole zoo by the weight of it! I sat on the chair and googled “Petmania”- I was right! This was from a company specialising in everything to do with pets. I didn’t have one. How ghastly and it was so big, heavy, and awkward, and blocking the porch.
I was now most annoyed to put it politely. I tried again to see the person to whom it was addressed and managed to only get the phone number. I called and Denis answered immediately. He was thrilled to know this parcel had come; his address was also 33 but not 33 Templeville Drive. It was a mistake. He didn’t seem to care. But it was 33 so the postman got that piece right! He would be down in a minute.
Denis, a sprightly man of 80 or so, skipped up to the porch, lifted the load easily and told me he ordered a double supply of eco-friendly cat litter so 10 kgs in weight, in this way saving on postage. He was ready to talk for Ireland and to stay in the porch for the rest of the day. I was about to scream with disappointment and didn’t care if his pet lived or died or was in an eco-friendly littler bed or at the bottom of the sea! His cat was 3 years old, neutered, called ‘Blue’, highly intelligent, a good hunter and deserving of the best so “Petmania” of Carlow is where he shops. Only there! He talked of diet, grooming, deworming and of course the litter bed. He said he was an ecological buff. Oh, dear oh dear! I couldn’t and didn’t get a word in edgeways; Denis was holding the 10 kg parcel all the time – no bother to him as he too had a captive audience and was delighted to talk about Blue and spoke of having a new friend. Denis and I are friends.
Later on in the day, after that heart-sinking morning, a knock came to the door; was this Denis coming back to introduce me to Blue? I couldn’t bear it. I peeped out the window. No – it was my 9-year-old twin neighbours. They were there with a tiny container of tomatoes which they had grown themselves as a present for me. They took it in turns to tell me about the names of each type of tomato, its taste and then spoke enthusiastically about another really big tomato that was not in the container but which they would bring when it ripened! There were four kinds of tomatoes altogether and although one was brownish, I was assured it was safe to eat; then I was shown an orange tomato which tasted delicious and some very tiny red ones which Edwin said were sweet and to demonstrate this he ate one himself there and then! Brian said he used to like tomatoes “a long time ago,” but now he just grows them and might start to eat them again next year!
We had a special meeting and a little ceremony in the porch but this time with two small boys, a bunch of tomatoes and a promise of another bigger tomato soon.
So, after all I was gifted on Wednesday last but not with a big brown parcel, instead with a visit from my little neighbours bringing their home-grown tomatoes and with two new friends, Denis and Blue!