The arrival of my sister and her son to Ireland last month resulted in possibly the best three weeks I’ve had in years. The Cooney’s were under the one roof again for the first time in five years. This was some feet-considering my brother Matt now resides in Cork, my sister Sharon remains in Perth, Western Australia and then we have little old me living here in Dublin. I think back to the time when we all called Oz our home, Mum and Dad living blissfully as man and wife, Matt and I winding each other up-correction me winding Matt up, whilst Sharon worked long days as a teacher and kept us amused with stories of her little subject’s antics. Although I enjoyed my own space and often retired to my bedroom to escape the madness, I secretly loved our full house especially when we all piled into the living room to watch shows like Aussie Big Brother or dad’s favourite Survivor. We were certainly a reality TV loving family. It might sound weird to say but shows like Big Brother and Survivor actually brought us closer as a family. We would have intense discussions/debates about who we thought was genuine and who had to go. I remember wishing we could temporarily vote Mum out of the house, as she had a tendency to talk non-stop during TV time.
No one took these shows more seriously than my dad! I remember one instance when he brought a pen and paper into the living room and proceeded to tally the nominations made by the Big Brother housemates, that way he would know who was up for eviction before it was officially announced. Another of Dad’s favourite shows was The Osbournes. One of my most cringe worthy memories takes me back to age 17, Dad and I were glued to the telly watching Ozzy and his crazy family. Next thing out of nowhere Kelly begins to talk about her special 'lady area' and reveals that her sister Amy has made an appointment for her with the all important ‘vagina doctor’ and she doesn‘t want to go. Ozzy’s advice was to insist Kelly tell the ‘vagina doctor’ to fuck off!! Hearing the v word in my dad’s presence was nothing short of a nightmare scenario. I didn’t know where to put my head, luckily Dad was bent over in hysterics and I made a dash for the kitchen insisting I needed a drink!!
Fast forward ten years and I would give anything to have my family back together, sitting around the TV. Perhaps I would have cherished those days a little more had I known they were numbered. We Cooney’s found ourselves back together last month, although our encounter was far too brief for my liking. It’s funny how time can creep by and yet somethings never change. Matt and I fell back into our slapstick mocking behaviour, Mum’s never ending rants picked up where they left off, and Sharon resumed her role as the sensible/normal one (that is until you get a glass of wine into her). The obvious thing that had changed unfortunately was the relationship between Mum and Dad. A big fat elephant had now entered our living room and there was an undeniable tension lying below the surface. Like a volcano it could errupt at anytime. Still I had to appreciate the fact that we were all back together and Jeremy Kyle was nowhere in sight!
The demise of Mr and Mrs Cooney wasn’t the only change within the family.
Something was notably different between us siblings too. Thankfully this change was a positive one. It became clear during Sharon’s stay that the Cooney kids were now closer than ever. Perhaps being so far apart all these years had resulted in a greater appreciation for each other’s company. Instead of being jealous and resenting my sister, these days I spend our encounters trying to get her to realise just how fantastic she is and how much I admire her strength both physical and mental. Not to mention the fact that she is without doubt the greatest mother I have ever seen! Then we have ‘golden balls’ himself Matthew Cooney. There was a time when I used to beg Matt to leave me alone, however these days the roles have definitely been reversed. I’m the one itching to spend as much time with him as possible, something I‘m sure he finds slightly annoying. His gentle nature and quiet confidence makes me very proud to be known around Nenagh town simply as Matt’s sister.
Throughout life we tend to surround ourselves with people we both like and respect, otherwise known as our friends. We can pick and choose our friends however when it comes to the family we’re born into, well that‘s something we have no say in. As cheesy as it may sound, if I did have a choice, I‘d still pick the life of a Cooney everytime! I feel privileged to call my brother and sister my friends and have seen enough episodes of Jeremy Kyle to know that this is not the case in every family. Shaz and Matt I salute you! May life see us back together again sooner rather than later.