Doreen Hynes was born and educated in Wexford. She worked for nineteen year with the local newspaper group, ‘The Wexford People’ belonging to the Independent Newspapers in Dublin. This is where she learned the art of writing as copy-holder and proof reader. After working as a retail assistant for three year, Doreen moved away to concentrate on her writing. In 2014 she successfully completed a Business and Marketing Course.
By Doreen Hynes
Marybeth stood alone in the cemetery. Staring down on the ebony coloured coffin. The spring morning was bleak as the rain poured down. Holding her umbrella dressed in black, her lace veil hid the sorrow on her face. Fighting back her tears, she tried to come to terms with the sudden death of Jim. Picking up some wet clay she threw it down into the cold dark grave. Her grandfather was now lying next to his beloved wife Rose. ‘Goodbye granddad, love you always’ she sobbed. Gently drying her eyes with her handkerchief Marybeth turned slowly and walked away inconsolable.
Robert Green stood in the background waiting for Marybeth. Offering his condolences, he walked her back to where her family were waiting in the car. A moment of panic struck Marybeth, her stomach felt sick. Turning towards Robert she yelled out. ‘No…. I do not want to go back to the cottage, not yet. Not yet do you hear me I won’t.’ Robert could see the pain on her grief stricken face. Desperately trying to console her, he held her tight in his arms. Looking towards her family, he suggested taking her home. Feeling the same pain Lauren and Dave nodded and waved them goodbye. Their grandfather had loved all three grandchildren equally, however Marybeth was the youngest. Resembling her mother in every manner and movement, she was the closest to her grandfather. Jim could always see his daughter through Marybeth’s eyes and by her every movement.
On arriving at Robert’s house, they slowly made their way into the kitchen. Making her a strong mug of tea he added a drop of brandy to warm her. She sat down on the kitchen chair, her face was white but at least she was calmer now. Handing her the tea he walked towards the range. Thanking him she explained in a sombre tone. ‘All those faces just staring, I did not want to see them, not just yet’. Robert replied kind-heartedly ‘your grandfather will be sadly missed. He was a good man with a big heart’. Lighting the range that was already set, he sat down beside her. Unsure what to say Robert let Marybeth do the talking. Easing into a conversation she spoke timidly. ‘I must look in a right state. Watery eyes and a big red blotchy face I bet’. They had met several times before, when she would come to visit her grandfather, but rarely spoke. She did recall her grandfather telling her once, that Robert was a good friend to have and trust. There was another moment of silence, before Robert suggested. ‘Sometimes it’s good to talk. They say it makes you feel better’. Robert content just sat by her side and let her grieve for her grandfather. It also brought back painful memories for Robert. He too knew the pain of losing someone dear to him, but rarely spoke about it. Marybeth frowned, taking a deep sigh and inhaling the smell of turf. She gazed towards the range, and in a soft tone began to talk briefly about her past. ‘When I was six my parents were killed, returning home from a concert in the capital. It was a terrible train crash and we went to live with our aunt Sarah.’ More relaxed now, with the colour returning to her cheeks she continued to reminisce. ‘I remember granddad bringing us up to his bog. We all helped bring home his turf. Dave had more fun watching the wild bullfrogs.’ Saying this brought a smile to Marybeth’s face. ‘He would hide in the heather, or jumping in and out of the muddy water. Covered in dust, we didn’t care.’ Pausing she closed her eyes to recapture that moment. Robert filled the range while listening to her every word. Opening her dry but swollen eyes, she smiled across at him. ‘Granddad let me sit up front in the tractor all the way home. I always felt safe when my granddad was around. Every summer, I looked forward to spending my holidays with granny and granddad.’ Robert smiled briefly as he watching the expressions on her red face as she remembered. Uttering the word granddad she paused, and was about to cry again, when Robert joined in the conversation. ‘Yes indeed, Jim was a kind thoughtful man. He told many great stories whenever I met him in the pub. That tractor he drove belonged to my father. Every Summer Jim would borrow it. Go to the bog and bring home his turf. Returning then to help my parents, bring their turf home. Jim had a kind heart and always put others first.’
Feeling much better now Marybeth decided to return home. It was still raining heavily, as Robert drove her back. He knew how well Jim cared for his grandchildren, and often spoke to Robert about them. He felt he owed Jim the courtesy of keeping an eye on all of them today. Most of the mourners had now left, and Lauren invited Robert to stay awhile. Offering him some ham sandwiches with his tea, Robert sat down on the soft leather sofa to speak to her brother Dave. Marybeth went to join her children, who were drawing quietly in the kitchen. Delighted to see their mother, they ran and gave her a big hug. Lauren watched her little sister hug her children tenderly, hoping she would be alright. Lauren knew Marybeth would miss her grandfather the most. For the rest of the night they spent sitting around the warm cosy range. Telling stories and toasting fond memories of their grandfather.
Due to work commitments, Lauren and Dave had to return to the city the next day. Any dealings regarding Jim’s business would be dealt with his solicitors. Only one thing was certain, Jim’s wish was to be granted and respected. He had spoken to them about his decision, and all three grandchildren were in agreement. Lauren and Dave were both content, knowing the cottage would be kept in the family. Marybeth decided to stay for a few more days, much to the children’s delight. They loved playing in the small woodland, to the back of the cottage. Wrapped up in her red woolly hat and scarf to match, Marybeth went outside for a stroll. Inhaling the cold fresh air she admired the old cottage. Never really noticing it before, Marybeth stood back to appreciate its charm. The cottage had four bedrooms all the rooms were small except the kitchen, which was slightly larger. The front of the cottage was slated with brown and cream stone. All the wooden exteriors windows had shutters on them freshly painted in red. Decking all designed and handcrafted by Jim, lay outside the back door. A small garage with tiny round windows stood to the side of the cottage. The front garden was beautifully landscaped only last year. Large evergreen shrubs were planted at the back of the borders. The perennial lupin had just started to sprout their leaves in the centre. They would give extra height when they bloomed in the summer. While the long woody branches of the fuchsia, sat out front on the edge. The driveway was lined with cherry blossoms only recently cut back. The black solid wooden entrance gates, Jim had designed, hung on each side of two sturdy wooden pillars. They opened out over a stone walled bridge, underneath a small stream flowed down from the hills. The cottage was within walking distance of the village. Many times Marybeth had made that journey with her grandparents. Recalling all these memories filled her with all kinds of emotions. Everywhere Marybeth looked there was a fond memory. These helped ease her pain. Exploring the garage, Jim’s old green mini cooper was parked at its usual angle. Removing her gloves, she flicked through all the pages of rough sketches of objects and animals that were thrown in a box. These all belonged to her grandfather, as Marybeth remembered scribbling on them, when she was a younger. Going back inside; Marybeth continued on her meander. Realising with a couple of alterations, the cottage would have its own charm inside as well. A beautiful handcrafted oak wooden staircase was the centre piece in the hallway. Leading into the kitchen, stood a handmade solid oak kitchen dresser. This was the warmest room in the cottage. Here everything matched, from the curtains to the detail on the tiles over the range, and the floor. Entering the living room, Marybeth stood in front of the warm open turf fire. This was where most of her memories were. Picturing her grandfather, sitting in his old leather chair, that was well worn listening to his antique silver radio still standing in the window sill. Rose his wife sitting opposite knitting or daring his woolly socks. Feeling a tear fill in her eye she quickly ran outside once again. Looking around, hoping to hear her grandfather’s voice. She loved this part of the countryside, it was picturesque and peaceful. However Marybeth knew she would have to return home later in the evening.
Picking up the early morning post, Marybeth noticed a letter from her grandfather’s solicitor. Where their logo was etched into the right hand corner of the envelope, Marybeth ran her thump across it. Hesitating at first to open the letter, already knowing its contents she still felt guilty. Marybeth was a very humble person and did not care about wealth or fancy big houses. Her children were her life and Josh and Megan always came first. She knew Jim and his wife Rose worked hard all their life. Her grandfather built the cottage for his new bride, and named it ‘Rosey Pine’. His wife Rose worked as a school teacher, and soon became the school principal. They were both ambitious and left it too late to start a family. All these thoughts were etched in her mind as she read down through its contents. Reading the letter once again, she was a little surprised and glad in what it said. Jim had left a large sum of money that would be divided between Megan and Dave. His sister Sarah was left the carpentry business, to do as she pleased. Marybeth rang her sister before heading off to work to discuss her grandfather’s final wishes. While waiting for an answer she sat patiently on the wicker chair in the hallway. Megan knew her sister too well and was expecting the call. An emotional Marybeth cried over the phone to her. ‘Oh Megan I don’t feel so bad now. Granddad kept his promise to the very end’. Megan understood perfectly and reassured her. ‘Granddad left you the cottage in good faith Marybeth. He was very wise and saw things no one else could see. He loved you and wanted you to be happy’. Hanging up the phone, Marybeth always felt better after talking to her big sister. Remaining seated she let her mind ramble for a moment. Managing a thriving business, Marybeth liked the thought of now having other options to explore. Meeting new people all the time, she enjoyed her job, and felt dedicated to helping them. Her clients knew her well and passed on her business cards, creating work for her all over the countryside. More importantly Josh and Megan were settled in school. Marybeth became restless pondering on all these thoughts. Both her grandfather’s wishes and the cottage were now in her thoughts.
Josh and Megan would be getting their Easter holidays at the end of the week. Marybeth was thinking how it would be a good idea to spend the break up at the cottage. Mentioning this to the children, they grew excited about going away. For the rest of the day they talked about building a secret hiding place in the woods. It would be an adventure for them, exploring and running around in the long grass, with their dog Roxy she thought. Organising her work load, she knew there were two contracts that had to be finished by then. Marybeth was confident she would get these done and was a good organiser. She always had a good eye for detail and valued her client’s opinions. Her grandfather was her inspiration, fondly remembering him drawing unusual things. He once designed his own garden shed for all his workload, and Marybeth helped decorate it with him. Most of all, she enjoyed watching him create his own unique designs. Dropping the children off at school Marybeth was soon on her way. Stopping at the office before heading off to her appointments she made a list and crossed them off as she went. Enjoying her freedom and independence, the inspiration she got looking around her and studying the rooms. Been organised was what Marybeth did best. Her supplies were ordered well in advance, making sure they were delivered and collected in time for her next job. Her ideas were drafted onto her laptop with the final touches put in place when she arrived on site. As the weekend was drawing near Marybeth rang the auctioneer, to make an appointment to see him on Monday afternoon.