Thoughts on a daughter’s birthday

16th April 1993 was a Friday.

It was a busy evening in the parish.  The Mothers’ Union branch in the parish were holding their annual sale in the parochial hall at 6.30 pm. At 9 pm, the hall would be the venue for the annual old time dance, that usually took place on Easter Monday and had been postponed that year for some reason now long forgotten.

The sale was an occasion where it was possible for a clergyman to be of some use, putting out tables, washing up the teacups, lifting boxes, but the old time dance was one of those moments just to be there and smile nicely, never having learned ordinary dances, let alone the refined form that went under the description of ‘old time’.

Between the sale and the dance there had to be found time for a visit to Downpatrick Maternity Hospital where our daughter had been born at ten past eleven that morning.

It is twenty-nine years since the birth of a girl named ‘Miriam’ after the feisty sister of Moses and Aaron in the Bible, ‘Katharine’ after her mother, and ‘Sorcha’ after the parish of Bright in which we lived.

Not many years later, a determined child at primary school declared her intention to become a doctor, an intention that never wavered in the ensuing years.

It is six years since a determined young woman qualified with a first class degree in medicine from Trinity College, On the second Monday in July that year, she was one of the new crop of junior doctors doing their first day’s work on a ward. The years of exhausting duties in hospitals were endured, the challenge of administering thousands of vaccinations was met head on. Later this summer, training as a general practitioner will be complete.

Having 16th October as a birthday means being sixty-one and a half today and it means being exactly thirty two and a half years older than her.

The passing of twenty-nine years has been long enough to make both of us into very different people.

For for one of us it has been the whole of a lifetime of achievements that continue.

For the young clergyman of 1993, it has been a time long enough to make many mistakes and for there to have been too many moments to regret. It has been a time when there have often been occasions to wish that there were opportunities to make amends for past hurts.

May the birthday be the beginning of another year of achievement.

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