Saturday 15 December 2018

Bairbre Power: As a wise sage once said, you may not be able to live under the same roof, but you can live under the same sky

Bairbre Power. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Bairbre Power. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

I find it funny that for someone who was never good at maths, I have a thing about numbers and dates.

It's not that I have a major hang-up about numerology or a belief in the divine or mystical relationship between a number and coinciding events, but let's just say if number 13 was on the dream house I wanted to buy, I wouldn't be put off. I'd simply change the number to a name on the house and get on with it.

There's no room for triskaidekaphobia (fear or avoidance of the number 13) in my life. In fact, I love it when Friday the 13th swings by and the next one is coming up next week - so be warned if you are of a superstitious nature.

For the record, six is my lucky number now. As a child, I was always lucky in draws when I chose five. I share this with Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, who always launched her collections in Paris on the 5th day of the 5th month and named her first perfume Chanel No 5 after reaching for the fifth sample offered to her.

I've interviewed so many winners of the Lotto who kept playing the same numbers because they were emotionally attached to them and I can understand that. The panel of six Lotto numbers I always play are based on family birthdays and birthday months.

I have a thing about birthdays. I feel they are our own point of difference in busy lives and a chance to take time out, take stock of the blessings in our life and to see the people we love most. And better again, it's a guilt-free excuse to eat lots of cake.

I'll always remember birthdays but I have a horrible habit: I buy the great card, put a stamp on it, fill in the address and for some reason, I never post it, which inevitably means an apologetic phone call.

There are several key dates across the year that I never need to mark in my diary. Whatever about failing memory, two things that are forever etched on my brain are the times and dates that my two children were born.

I might have to be occasionally reminded of a friend's new mobile phone number and the odd log-in password for a website I haven't used in yonks, but those two dates are forever scorched into my memory, like tattoos.

Then there are the annual anniversaries and sadly, too many of those are wrapped around the deaths of love ones. In the case of my dad, we bring flowers to his grave in Glasnevin Cemetery in October, going the long way to say a 'hello' to Micheal Collins' grave, and back by the Little Angels.

As for Mum, her cannister of ashes gets lots of extra shakes on her anniversary in August and she'll always get a bunch of those white tulips she loved.

Over the years, certain dates keep coming at you for special attention. The arrival of April means I need to request the health insurance payment from the Credit Union.The 10-year passport is up again for renewal soon and those adverts on the TV jog that memory: when does the TV licence need to be bought and what about the end-of-March cheque for the bins?

There are so many dates, I really should get myself a diary, but that's the thing about this smart phone era we live in. Blue paged diaries with indigo-inked pages are, sadly, a thing of the past and we've handed it all over to the phone to record those dates and send us alerts.

Now that I come to think of it, last week marked an anniversary of a significant landmark in my life: the day I got married, more than 30 years ago.

As I am now divorced, I cannot call it an anniversary, but March 31 still pops out of the calendar at me, no matter what. While it ultimately didn't work out for us, I've learned that people go forward and find new happiness to savour in midlife. And that is all you could ever wish for.

The wisest sentiment I've heard on this topic came, rather appropriately, at a wedding I attended 20 years ago when the father of the bride noted in his speech that while the parents may no longer live under the same roof, they can live under the same sky.

Going through boxes recently, I came across a series of letters and postcards I had kept from a friend who emigrated to the west coast of America.

I'm fortunate to have a clutch of really good friends but as fate would have it, I'm the Dub who stayed at home and they are now scattered around the world: Brisbane, Seattle, New York and London.

As luck would have it, I got to spend some time last week with my very special girl from Seattle. We first met in a queue paying fees for our journalism course. Weeks later, we were paired off as roomies on a college trip to Galway and so began a wonderful friendship. Four decades later, she is part of my tribe and godmother to my son, but it's the sign of a good friend that you can just pick up the conversation like you only saw each other last week.

So there we were having dinner and at the end, she looked in her bag for something and took out her lipstick. It was Tom Ford.

Nothing unusual about that, says you. It's a lovely brand, sold on both sides of the Atlantic, but on closer inspection, there was that number again, 06, for the orangey red shade called Flame.

Hardly earth-shattering news, but I have often wondered about why we choose certain people as our friends. Is it because we recognise a little of ourselves in them? Either way, the 'flame' discovery had just the right amount of synchronicity as we toasted our modern day friendship living almost 5,000 miles apart.

Toasting each other with a glass of Rioja, we decided there and then that come September, we will spend the 40th anniversary of our meeting at the Rathmines College gates across the water in Seattle. Here's to marking, and creating, lots more anniversaries in our lives. You lose some, you gain some...

Irish Independent

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