My Dad and I are discussing his Olympic career and I am trying to remember which sport he entered. “None of them,” he says, “but let’s go with hurling.”
“Is hurling even an Olympic sport?” I ask.
“Of course,” he replies. “But only at the Dublin Olympics.”
“Dublin?” I say.
“There we were, charging down the field, screaming like we were going out to war, but I can’t remember much of the game, if we won or lost, if I kicked a goal or just spent all four quarters on the bench.”
“How do you mean?” I ask.
Dad shakes his head and runs at an angle. “Did you see the moon rise this morning?”
“No,” I say. “Weren’t you asleep?”
“Always,” he says. “I think maybe always, but I was outside and standing with the grass. There was a lot of grass and I’m sure the moon rose.”
“The grass,” I ask him. “Did the grass remind you of the game?”
“Don’t reckon,” he says. “There wasn’t that much grass.”
We fiddle with our mugs. The tea is getting cold.
“Well, what was it like standing on the podium?” I ask.
“Ah,” he says.
“And what was it like in the Olympic Village?”
“Oh,” he says, putting his mug on the table.
“Did you have much of a reception when you got home, like were you a hero or whatever?”
“Well,” he says. And then my Dad gives me the absolutely saddest smile and then he shuffles off into his room and seems to lock the door behind him.
“Dad,” I call after him, “did you play other sports when you were a kid, like cricket or footy?”
He doesn’t answer.
I get up from my chair, run over and rattle the handle. “Did you play them at school?” I yell. “What was it like when you when to school?”
There is no response.
Now I am banging at the bedroom door. “What about Mum? Dad, can you tell me how it was you met Mum?”
But there is only silence swelling in the house and even though I roar and cry and hammer at the door’s face, there is nothing I can do to break through.