I was in Cork recently and went into town to get some things for my father. I was out rather longer than I expected. He telephoned me.
Him: Are you alright?
Him: There’s no rush back; it’s just when you were late I was worried you might have been in an accident or something.
He is 92, I am 48. It looks like parenting is forever alright.
In other news, he told me about the college chaperone. When my father was at college in the 40s and my mother in the 50s, the college employed a chaperone; by the time I got to college in the 80s, they had thrown their hats at it. I suppose it was the 60s did for the institution of college chaperone.
Anyhow, Mrs. Madden (for that was her name – possibly the last UCC chaperone, google was unhelpful in relation to my researches in this regard) was friendly with my father and she told him this story. Apparently the students would be assigned to mind the chaperone in turn and keep her plied with food and spend time chatting to her. She said to this one young man, “This is very hard for you, I am sure you would much rather be out dancing with the girls”. Instead of mendaciously insisting that there was nothing he would rather do than spend time with Mrs. Madden he said seriously, “Yes, but I offer it up.”
My father related this tale over dinner out – my sister and I were triumphant at having got him and my aunt out for my aunt’s birthday. This involved a complex series of manoeuvres with a walker, a wheelchair, a disabled parking badge and a phone torch. This last was cunningly deployed to allow those whose eyesight was less than perfect to read the menu in the dim lighting which the restaurant favoured. You may congratulate us.