The Blarney Crone is in reflective mood, following sad news from Itchy Ankle.
‘Give my head peace’. It’s something harassed Northern Irish mothers say to their kids–or at least they did in the 1960s–when the kids are whining and whingeing and hanging on your hem and generally driving you crazy. It means, go away and leave me alone. Itchy Ankle Andy wanted anything other than to be left alone, and his head had no peace. As a little boy, robbed of his father in a plane crash, he raced like a terror around the house and ran and couldn’t be stopped in the corridors at school. By his teenage years, his mother spirited away by a new husband and the pills that would eventually cost her her own life , Andy was running toward any pair of open arms–and any open bottle. He craved love, constant company, something to do, something else to do, a drink and then another drink. Three weeks ago, he ran himself into real trouble. A drinking binge. An attack of pancreatitis. A seizure in the hospital. Rescusitation. Brain anoxia–a lack of oxygen supply–leading to coma. For a couple of weeks, machines and tubes jolted his life along. It wasn’t possible to know where his head was at, but his being was still tortured and restless. On Thursday, his heartbroken brothers acknowledged that the hospital apparatus had no more power than people who love Andy– machine or man, the power is not for them to wield, and, try as they might, it wouldn’t work to try to live Andy’s life for him. It was time for his running to stop. Andy died on Friday night and is mourned to a degree he would like, but probably wouldn’t believe.
The crone has known Andy since she moved to Itchy Ankle. He was as good and bad a man as any other–generous, and self-centered, selfish and kind; energetic and creative, impulsive, unfocused and all over the place. Simultaneously shrewd and immature he was both engaging and madly irritating. Loving and deeply lovable, he never felt well enough loved and was well-wary of love. Blessed with good looks, a good job, great taste, a wonderful home, close family, many friends and no shortage of party spirit, Andy was always at the center of the fun–cook-outs and crab feasts, boat trips and Christmas gift swaps. At Halloween, he raided the women’s underwear aisle at Walmart in search of outsize foundation garments and became a most convincing St Pauli girl, dispensing drinks from the bladders of wine boxes, complete with taps, snugly contained in each of his ample bra cups. Every night at five, he could be seen with Molly, his golden lab and his heart’s delight, at the ballfields, treating her to a run and an hour in his company. The sadness of Andy’s life is that his yearning and craving and fretting for a perfect all embracing love created in his head a constant clamor and in his heart a dull and chronic ache. Andy died a quiet, pain-free death on Friday. Finally, his uneasy body is at rest and, please God, his head now knows a deep and lasting peace.