Music and the sense of smell are the two most powerful emotion stirrers. We all have a particular smell that carts us back to a childhood holiday, or a song that reminds us of our first love.
In 2006 Dad was fighting a losing battle against cancer. On his last night we spent the night with him in hospital but sadly, the following day he passed away. Suddenly we realised that there were things at home that were urgently needed. I said I’d drive back and get them.
I had Paulo Nutini’s album in the car and I played the track Last request on repeat the whole way home to Raharney and back to the hospital, tears streaming down my face. The song is not about someone dying but it is about losing someone you love and I found the lyrics very poignant at that particular moment.
That song is the thing that I most associate with Dad and if I happen to listen to the album I skip that track as I find it too difficult to hear.
Yesterday was an eventful day in my life. Firstly it was the day of school Christmas holidays. Carols were sung, selection boxes were distributed to the kids and roll books were brought up to date for the end of term.
It was also my 50th birthday. I headed into Mullingar after school to treat myself, only to discover that half the town was sealed off due to a gas leak!
Not going to let a little detail like that spoil my day, I sat myself down in the window seat of a little café to eat my mince pie and watch the rest of the mad world scurry by. My mind was racing with making plans for the rest of the night…..shoes to buy, hair to be blow-dried and nails to be painted. Christmas carols were streaming out of the speakers adding to the atmosphere.
Out of nowhere came the distinctive tones of Paulo Nutini singing the opening bars of Last Request. Before it even consciously registered with me what song it was, the tears were flowing down my cheeks. I looked furtively around to see if anyone had spotted the mad one crying her eyes out. If anyone passing the window looked in they probably thought
“God, Noeleen Lynam is taking turning 50 fierce hard!”
But in reality it was probably the best moment of my day. I don’t believe that things happen as a coincidence. Everything is planned.
Why would they play that song at that particular time?
It’s not in the charts and it certainly isn't a Christmas tune.
To me that song was Dad’s way of contacting me to let me know that even though he couldn't be physically with me on my special day, he was still there. I know he didn't intend to make me bawl my eyes out but it was the best way to grab my attention.
After having a little cry I composed myself and ventured out to join the maddening crowds on the streets. There was an extra pep in my step, the happiest I'd been all day.
It doesn't matter what age you are when a parent dies, inside you are seven.