Making A Wish
It is just as well that I brought cakes to the TV presenting class in the GSA last week, it was emotional! The assignment was to present a piece on ‘The Most Important Person In My Life’, and everyone had an amazingly heartfelt story to share. To say that I was a bit emotionally fragile to begin with is an understatement – I had just returned from a weekend in Gay Pareee and my hangover was only just beginning to kick in – so I pretty much bawled through everyone’s presentation.
The stories were touching, moving, and sometimes bordering on that level of sentimental hilarity that makes you cry anyway? My own story revolved around my special relationship with my beloved gay best friend, Rory, who I have known since I was a child. Ours is a story of friendship, great loss, and re-building what has ultimately become one of the most important relationships in my life. I had to eat three blueberry muffins when I sat back down. And may I add, that course facilitator Bill Hughes thought that my baking skills were excellent. (Teacher’s Pet status intact!)
Keeping in line with my interest in hosting a parenting show, I had an amazing encounter at Paris CDG airport on the way back to Dublin. Passing through security at our boarding gate, a family with two young kids were having a hard time with the authorities, who were taking the kids toy guns from them. That’s right, the family had managed to get through the entire airport, where they have extremely scary looking armed soldiers, until the very last gate, with toy guns. International airport security is alive and well in Europe, people.
The two boys were crying and the parents were very upset and you know, you try not to look over and make them feel uncomfortable and make matters worse, so we were trying to mind our own business but we felt very sorry for them.
While Ass Monkey was having his back searched (bananas, the keys to his cage etc), I overheard the mother pleading with security to return the guns.
‘Non, non, non’, he shook his head.
‘My child has had cancer, please’.
‘Non, non, non’.
Well, I couldn’t help myself. Ass Monkey had one eye on me with the ‘Don’t Get Involved, Sharyn!’ look that he generally has. But he has long been at the behest of my bringing home stray dogs and stray people throughout our time together, so he generally understands how led by my emotions I am. Which he is fine with, so long as I don’t hand over our bank details to anyone.
‘Can I do anything for you?’ I asked the teary mother who got a little tearier upon my arrival. She explained that they had been to Euro Disney on the Make A Wish program, and although I tried to talk to the two boys to cheer them up, they were too upset to speak to me. So off we trundled, Ass Monkey and I, to the coffee shop, to try to mind our own business. My bum had barely touched the seat when I was up again.
‘I can’t!!!’ I told him. ‘I can’t let this be the end of their fabulous holiday in Euro Disney – it can’t end with them crying! Be right back’.
I popped off to duty free and bought some sweets that I delivered over to the family. It was just dad and the two boys who were looking a bit better anyway, and were able to tell me a bit about the fun they’d had at Euro Disney. Mammy was still trying to negotiate with French security. Brave, brave Mammy.
She later came over to thank me when Ass Monkey had popped off to the toilet. We had a great chat, and she told me that her son was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver when he was ten months old, how they had to travel from Tipperary to Crumlin Children’s Hospital repeatedly, to stay a few nights with him for treatment, how her older son had suffered, she felt, for the attention they had to give the baby when he was sick, that the liver transplant had to be undertaken in the UK, and that the surgeon who performed the operation was literally their god while their son’s life was in his hands.
The GOOD news is that her sick child is now four years of age and doing really well. He is three years in remission, mammy is back at work and they’re all trying to get their lives back on track even though he’ll have to take medication for the rest of his life.
Well. I was so touched and moved to have met this family and for this amazing mammy to tell me her story. Bawling. BAW-LING. Thankfully, Ass Monkey returned from the toilets to help straighten me out. I introduced him to mammy Gillian, and then this happened. Pay attention, I’ll make it quick, but it’s magic.
Ass Monkey: You don’t sound like you’re from Tipperary.
Gillian: I’m from Wexford originally.
Me: (To Ass Monkey) Yes, she sounds like Emma Howlin!
Gillian: Emma, as in Emma and John?
Me: Er…yes, I just saw her and her son, Ed, on Friday. She’s a great pal of mine. We were at her wedding.
Gillian: We were at her wedding. In Whites in Wexford?
Ass Monkey: No way! And then we stayed there the following year when Sharyn was pregnant, and she was such a pain in the ass that they upgraded us to the wedding suite.
Me: Ha Ha (daggers looks at Ass Monkey). Yes, I kept texting Emma, saying ‘Guess who’s in your bed!!’
Gillian: Emma was very good to us, when Ryan was sick. She did a lot of fundraising.
Me: Oh my god. His name is Ryan? I donated to his raffle when Emma was fundraising.
Ass Monkey: Yes. And won. The prize was that trip to Whites in Wexford!
Gillian: Oh my god!
Ass Money: Oh my god!
Me: So you see, we already know your son, in a way.
This is why I love people, and want to interview them, and want to talk to them about their family life. We can go about our business and never say ‘Can I do anything for you?’, but imagine if we did, the joy it could bring to us and other people?
TV Presenting for me, and for those who are in my class at the Gaiety School of Acting, are all in it because we want to tell a story. Some of those stories will be happy, some sad, but all, I believe, entirely necessary. The more I do this course, and the more signals I get from the world, the more convinced I am that it is for me. I want to tell the story of Ryan – and his amazing big brother Scott – to everyone xxx
*To see the work that the Make A Wish Foundation do, or to make a donation, please visit: Make A Wish Ireland