A Family Rift Precipitated By A Soup Spoon.

My Mam’s diasporic family return often to the farmhouse and 18 acres that nurtured nine of them. In 2003, a scatter of them arrived together from the States and England. Entertainment being exhausted among the lakes and drumlins of North Longford, we hit for Bundoran.

The first night, we shared a jovial meal. The others claiming satiety, I alone ordered dessert. A big bowl of apple tart and ice cream arrived. The implement provided to dispatch my sweet was a remarkably large soup spoon. Wielding it clublike, I jokingly warned the others that should they sally forth towards my bowl, they’d get the spoon. Shortly after, out of the corner of my eye I saw a fork stealthily approaching my tart.

Some malevolent reflex drew my arm back and I crashed the spoon down on my aunt’s pate.
An audible “Bonk!”
Stunned silence.
Stuttered apologies couldn’t placate.
Swearwords with deep feeling behind them were flung at me.
She ran out.
Red-faced I stared at my dessert. At a loss for what to do, I ladled every bit into my mouth with the selfsame spoon.

Despite my Nan’s peacekeeping efforts, a family factionalised by errant cutlery could not be reconciled.
Holiday ruined.
My aunt didn’t talk to me properly for a year or so, and relations were a little stilted thereafter.

On Christmas Day 2014, my Granda was in Mullingar Hospital dying slower than he deserved. We took turns with the bedside vigil. At home that night I ate reheated turkey dinner with jetlagged and grief-tired relatives, my aunt among them.

As I launched into pudding and custard, my Nan said “Watch out for that fella with the spoon!”
My aunt and I exchanged sheepish grins.
Nan giggled knavishly.

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