At a campsite in Dutch Limburg, as Eoghan Walsh drinks industrial Dutch Lager and snacks on sour cream and onion Pringles, he remembers his mother, who died of cancer at age 47. In this piece at Good Beer Hunting, he recounts that the “beer-suffused memories provoked by that sensory encounter in the Dutch campsite stand out so starkly because they were rare flickers of joy or irreverence in an otherwise unhappy childhood.”
I remember the gray Friday afternoon, sitting with her in that quiet room when it was done, and me mumbling inane banalities about the important life events she would never see and the ones I was so grateful that she had, her face slack and relaxed and impassive.
That was the definitive goodbye, but when a loved one dies of a terminal illness they don’t die just once. They are, instead, dying over and over again, as grim milestones accumulate with you powerless to arrest the dawning inevitability of the final, conclusive death.
I miss her. Not every day, but enough to entertain the odd melancholic notion of how her life and mine might have turned out had she survived the intervening decade, and what parenting advice she might be able to impart—were I in a mood to listen—over a glass of wine and a pint on a quiet Friday night.
For one, the beer-suffused memories provoked by that sensory encounter in the Dutch campsite stand out so starkly because they were rare flickers of joy or irreverence in an otherwise unhappy childhood. Whether I have been successful or not in my attempts to break with my past in my six years as a father, I have tried to will into existence an environment for my children that is more carefree, warmer, and more predictable than the one I endured. It is also a childhood in which beer is much more present.