Hey everyone, I’d like to start by apologizing for being absent lately both here and on Facebook, I have been slightly distracted with family.
My Uncle Raymond has been battling cancer from March 2016, and sadly he passed April 2017, it was an extremely difficult time for the family but we seem to have made it through and stuck together.
Before i get into this blog post, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind wishes and messages over this difficult time.
My uncle Raymond was what you would call a character, I loved him very much as did my mother and brother. Raymond was like a father to my brother and they spent most of their time together.
Raymond moved to America at a young age, in his early 20’s, he spent many years there working and getting up to the most ridiculous adventures. When my mother took Ryan and I to America when we were younger we visited him, he lived in an apartment where we stayed for a few days.
Ten years ago he moved home, he lived with my grandparents on their farm and he stepped back into it like he never left. Buying cows and heifers and selling them on, making money and fixing up machinery. Ryan and Raymond spent some time fixing up the “we john deer” it was their project and they done it proud.
Before Raymond moved home, sadly his heart was attacked by a virus when he lived in America, sadly this caused a series of ill health which did not help in the end.
At this time Raymond’s heart did stop. Luckily the medical staffs were able to bring him back to us.
Raymond lived at home again in Northern Ireland for ten years before he sadly passed, and I had the pleasure of living with him for a few years. I moved in with Raymond and my grandparent for a few years while completing my A levels and then again afterwards, I moved in with him when I was 17.
At the age of 17 living away from my mum I thought this was the ultimate freedom! I was wrong! Raymond knew everything, I couldn’t get away with anything, he was able to tell me when i would get home or where I had been. He was hard on me at times, but it was because he loved me and wanted the best for me. 80% of the time we got up to badness together.
Mum or granny didn’t know I smoked at the time. (Yes I smoke, and I know it’s a dirty habit and costs a fortune) I used to sneak into Raymond’s room at night and sit watching TV with him smoking and talking about nonsense. He was trying to watch TV and I was asking a million questions. I would leave college early on Thursday’s to go to the mart to have dinner with him, it was the best feed of dinner you could get, I highly recommend Enniskillen mart for your dinner. My grandfather gave me a calf for passing my driving test, yes a baby cow! I didn’t have to look after it; I’m not that great with animals! About a year after granddad gave me Patricia (the calf) Uncle Raymond took me to the mart to sell Patricia, it was one of the most fun days I’ve had.
When I first moved to my grandparents, there was young lads who rented the farm or worked for the man that rented the farm, the funniest memory I have of Raymond is when one of the lads asked who I was one day when I was out walking about, Raymond’s response was “ I wouldn’t mess with her, she does kick boxing, you couldn’t handle her”. I was mortified once this young lad informed me of this one night I was out. Raymond always loved a good laugh, he had one of the funniest sniggers that I guess was supposed to be a laugh.
I was extremely lucky to live on my grandparent’s farm, it was a large farm by Lough Erne, Raymond luckily had a quad bike and he let me take it when I wanted, we opened certain gates on the farm and made a circuit for me, I had so much fun spinning about using all Raymond’s petrol! When the boys were doing the grass and Raymond was helping I used to bring him (smuggle) him beer down the field on the quad or in my car.
On my 23rd birthday Raymond was in Belfast city hospital getting treatment for the throat cancer, after I sat my final exam in University (Coleraine) I went to Belfast to see him. I thought this was great, due to the treatment he was unable to talk, it was my chance to wind him up and take the piss out of him. Payback! And give him a laugh through a difficult time. I was wrong, he still had the use of his legs and every time I would wind him up or “slag” him off he would lift his foot and hit me a kick thinking this was hilarious.
Raymond was a character; he loved his family and loved to wind people up. He was a cracker and wound people up to no tomorrow. I have millions of memories of Raymond from when I lived with him and even when I moved out, I won’t pretend they’re all happy memories, the day I crashed my car he went mental and had to be taken out of the room. He wasn’t an angel and pissed some people off but not many! Most people liked him as he was always happy to help, as long as you had manners towards him and didn’t disrespect him. Like any normal person.
I will always remember my uncle Raymond laughing and having a good time, I had the opportunity to see him in the hospital before he passed and was there when he final took his last breath, it was a difficult thing to see but at the time I was numb, I don’t think it hit me until later in the day. Honestly the funeral and wake was so fast, and a distraction to the situation then when it was all over it was time to get back to work.
I was lucky to get the chance to say good bye and tell him I loved him, I got to apologize for not being there more towards the end but I honestly thought he was going to get better, in the past ten years i lost count the amount of times he was at deaths door, the amount of times my grandparents sent me to his room to check on him or the amount of times I received a phone call informing me his heart was giving him bother again or his pacemaker was going off again. I prayed it never happened when I was there as it would be extremely scary.
Losing a loved one is extremely difficult, luckily we have a large family and most of us were all able to put our differences aside and come together, sadly our happy reunion was due to an extremely unhappy situation but it was lovely sitting around the good living room at granny’s talking about times we spent with him and joking about different memories, laughing and joking.
As darkness turns into light
Memories of you, we will always have
Now we will say goodnight
The family have gathered
Sadly to say good bye
Maxi you were loved by many
This is where i try not to cry
You were not just our uncle
You were our friend
A good life you lived with many of laughs
Now you’re gone we will begin to mend
From trips to Long Beach
And days at the mart
Well travelled you were
There is so much you could teach
Keeping watch on Tullydevenish
Fixing the we john deer
Running after the heifers
We know you will always be near
The antics you got up to
Crashed pickups and snow mobiles
Without your stories
I don’t know what we will do
A son, brother, uncle and friend
We will say good bye and good night
Because this is the end
I don’t claim to be a great writer, my grammar proves that point! I also don’t claim to be a decent poet but this is something I wrote for Raymond and I was honoured to have the opportunity to read it at his funeral.
Good night Uncle Raymond, I love you!