Mea Culpa – I have been neglectful of my blog. I need to be honest with myself (and you) and let go of the guilt of not updating weekly/bi-weekly, or let’s face it, even monthly.
Life just keeps getting in the way. ‘Want to make [insert a god} laugh, tell him your plans.’
So when I last left off, I had announced that my book Overload: a Brother, a Wake and a Secret, had been taken up by publishers, Sweeney & O’Donovan. A lot has happened to bring it to this final week (Oct 6th 2022) when it will be launched, but more of that later, as I would like to share something with you before that.
Back in May, my Husband (yes, my hubby with capital H) suffered a stroke (blot clot to the brain) – he is 53. To say it was a shock is putting it mildly and life took a different route for us all. I am pleased to say that he is recovering very well physically and the family are all adjusting to the ‘new’ person he is as a result of his acquired brain injury. He personally has a very different struggle and there could be a whole other blog on that I am sure. But I won’t go there.
As it happened we had already booked a short walking holiday for the Camino Portuguese in September and this became our focus to get the Hubby back up and excited about living (with Doc’s approval of course).
The trip would entail a short haul flight to Santiago in Spain, and bus transfer approx 80km south. We would then start walking our way back up towards the pilgrimage-reward that is Santiago Compostela. Each day we walked some, as our bags were transferred to the next hotel ahead of us. (I call it the Posh Camino)
Had all been well we would have walked an average of 20Km per day – but due to the stroke and taking it easy, we focused on the walking and not the distance. We would walk as far as my Hubby was able and then arrange for a taxi transfer on to the next hotel where we linked up with our friends who had walked the whole way. There was one day where I got to walk solo and this was sooooo good for my soul I cannot put it into words.
Interestingly on coming home so many people ask us how far did we walk – as if that was the important part – when in fact I came up with a whole new motto for us, so it did not become about the distance covered.
“It’s not about the Pace but the Sense of Place“
We had a wonderful break. Only 4 days but felt like a wonderful lifetime. Great scenery, walks, food and people. And just being.
Now, again, there are so many blogs on walking the Camino and I will leave those bloggers do what they do best. I do want to share something that connected with me along the way:
When one is walking the Camino there are many foot types, the most common being walking shoes/boots. Feet are the focus for minding and preventing/caring for blisters. If your feet are suffering the whole experience can be a miserable.
I kept thinking of my Brother (whose ashes I had brought with me along the way) and often thought about his boots. Being physically disabled, he didn’t really need boots – his wheelchair did the ‘walking’ for him. But he loved his boots for comfort and heat.
I loved how boots showed up in various images along the Camino way….
and this one below struck me most.
If you look closely, the soles of the boots are not worn.
And this reminded me of my Brother’s soles – which are also unworn – so I thought to share with you an extract from Overload……
For a man who could not walk, my Brother wore a pair of boots that bore the markings of many of
life’s miles. Yet turn them over and the soles are as new and unworn as the day they were
purchased. My Brother’s boots are a good metaphor of how he lived. Mountain boots. Hard core,
designed for trekkers, with reinforced toe, thick soles, high lace ups, ankle and arch supporting. At
first glance, his are fit for recycling. Worn, ripped, scuffed, discoloured, seams threadless. Friction
and weathering has left the once black shiny leather dull, faded, and grey. Almost white in places.
‘Will-do’ laces strain on the Northwest hooks to keep some order on the otherwise as-good-as-fit-
for-the-bin size tens. Years of rubbing off his chair wheels have the upper outsoles scuffed and
threadbare. Seams ripped and thinned so much in places that they curl back on themselves as if
grinning at the world. Droplets of paint dot the grey toes here and there because of his years of
artwork. Red, blues, greens: a unique signature of cosmic-like splodges symbolic of his effervescent
universe. ‘A man without boots feels sorry for himself until he meets the man without feet.’ Anyone
who knew my Brother, knew his boots. They may not have chosen to walk in them but would have
been honoured to have been asked.
If you would like to read more, the book Overload will launch this Thursday, 6th October. And there will be a Dublin event too, Thursday 27th October – feel free to come along. The book will be available nationwide from independent booksellers and on line from Amazon/Sweeney & O’Donovan from October 6th 2022.
Hope to see you there!