Lonesome Traveller

It was in the darkness of an early Saturday morning, as autumn bustled and blew into preparing us for the winter ahead, that I walked briskly across the carpark to the brightly lit multi-storey building. The sound of several sets of footsteps, covered the various silent thoughts of those around me. As we reached the entrance doors the cluster around me grew, soon all my close family had gathered. The building was Dublin Airport and they were there to wave me off.

I was leaving home. I was not the first to break the circle, but the two who left before me, did so to begin their own dynasties – they had married and were living in Dublin, not more than 20 miles away from the parental nest. I was leaving the country!

It was not a sudden decision, planning had filled the previous few months. If fact the kernel of the idea had formed with the awakening of Spring.

I was in a steady job that I enjoyed, had a fun social life, and coming from a large family meant I was never short of company. I had realised that in ways I was alone, yet never alone. I wondered how I would cope on a desert island? The practical stuff was no problem, I could cook and clean and sew to beat the band. The major problem as I saw it, was – could I live alone?  Would I be able to stand totally on my own two feet, not having others to fall back on for company, a loan if money was tight, or share the good times with? A letter would take five days to reach most Continental Cities and phone calls were expensive.

Well, walking through the doors of Dublin Airport were the first steps in that voyage of discovery. I took a deep breath and headed for the check-in desk, I presented my ticket, passport and my suitcase. A small trunk had gone on ahead to the address I was heading for that day. Once checked in, I returned to my family for the last few minutes and farewell hugs and kisses. The boys cracked jokes, but they had the air of the first few hushed jokes at a wake. My parents were quiet. There were no tears, just whispered phrases.  The flight was called, a final round of hugs and as I turned to walk away, regained voices wished me a pleasant journey. I walked up the incline with a tight grip on my hand luggage, at the top I stopped and turned to wave, then turning to the right and out of sight, I stopped. Stopped to take a deep breath, I was on my own, next stop Frankfurt, Wiesbaden here I come!

That was forty years ago.

  • I rented an apartment and learned to enjoy the silence of an empty room.
  • I began working with the USAF.
  • I made friends (one of the first was a guy with the same surname, he came from Limerick and had grown up in an orphanage. He had no family so he adopted me).
  • I joined a musical & dramatic society and learned new skills.
  • I travelled widely. One trip was an overnight train journey to Austria (13 hours) At the end of the holiday I returned by day.

Little did I know then, that the exercise in ‘going it alone’ was preparation for the past fifteen years of widowhood. It stood me well.

The topic: First time travelling abroad alone. (not in a youth/School group) was chosen for us by the intrepid traveller Paul/Blackwatertown. So why not set down all the baggage from the past week, pull off the hiking boots and settle in to see where he takes us, before gently strolling map in hand to see what the other active members have to say on the topic: Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

19 thoughts on “Lonesome Traveller

  1. Nick

    As you say, that experience of living alone must have been a useful resource later on in life. Not to mention an eye-opening adventure after a fairly conventional daily life in Dublin.

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  2. Rummuser

    The first flight those days, with the family and friends coming to send you off is so graphic and so familiar that it takes me back to the number of times that I had been part of the send off or welcoming groups in those small cozy airports without all the noise and security problems that one now faces. Great story that continues to inject that little bit about living alone overseas. My brother who did that in Glasgow when he was just a teenager can still hold me enthralled with how he coped. You did well Grannymar and it tells.

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  3. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – How Air travel has changed. I remember when Dublin Airport was one small crescent shaped building. My older brothers and I often walked out there on a Sunday afternoon to watch the flights landing and taking off. In those days we had the freedom to go on the rooftop and watch with the breeze in our hair, the roar of the engines in our ears and the smell of fumes in our nostrils. Back then it seemed magical and thrilling. The smallest airport I ever travelled through was Beauvais-Tillé Airport, north of Paris – It was really just one room back then.

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  4. Grannymar Post author

    Gigi – Being a widow is difficult for all of us, but I feel that sitting weeping would be an insult to the wonderful man I shared 20 years of my life with. I didn’t choose the life I now live, but I make the best of it, and have since met and made new friends with some wonderful people off and online! :D

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  5. Celia

    How exciting that must have been. I was one who left home to be married and stayed near the old homestead in Seattle. It took me a lot longer to learn to live alone. So great how you jumped into a new life with new friends.

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  6. Grannymar Post author

    Celia – It was exciting and I met wonderful people on my travels. Good preparation for when I married and settled down. My husband had no siblings and his parents had died years before we met. My parents and siblings were all more than 100 miles away. We were as happy as Larry (who was he?) in our own cocoon. The earlier independence stood to me then and again once Elly went to University and after her dad died.

    Good friends are Gold dust and I cherish them.

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  7. Dianne

    One by one the children leave the nest and some fly quite a long distance away. Good for you taking on life’s great challenge. I only went to California at age 17. Not to far by today’s standards. Dianne

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  8. Nancy

    Good friends are Gold dust and I cherish them.

    This sentence brought tears to my eyes as it made me think of the Gold Dust Twins of our past.

    Your story was wonderful, as usual… You are just the one who could pull off going alone to Germany and making a success of it..

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  9. Grannymar Post author

    Dianne – Your adventure may not seem far by today’s standards, but we did not have all the modern aids to travel that are available nowadays.

    Nancy – I hope they were tears with happy memories. I spoke to the surviving Gold Dust Twin on Christmas day. I am hoping that by now, she has met up with her visiting niece, who was in Ireland for Christmas.

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  10. Barbara

    I always love to hear the stories of your travels :) You were by far the most adventurous of our family & your stories always made me dream of the days I could fly.

    I’m just no good at languages, but I have picked up the odd word along the way. I remember you being very good. :)

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  11. Grannymar Post author

    Barbara – My little pet lamb, you were a very willing audience and a pleasure to share stories with. I am glad you caught the bug and travelled so widely.

    Delores – Wiesbaden was beautiful, no matter what the season.

    Judy – I needed to do it, and the family needed to learn not to depend on me so much.

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  12. Grannymar Post author

    Maria – Everyone needs to know how to cook, how to drive and most important of all, how to live totally alone.

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  13. Grannymar Post author

    BWT – I thought you were travelling by the scenic route of memory to find a tale for us. Take your time.

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