DEPARTURE FROM EMERALD ISLE

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'I had a wife. She ran away...with a priest...'

I listened as the old man in the aisle across from me and a row behind me spoke to the lady behind me. He was telling her how he has lived in New York for the past 45 years, had a wife, and has a home in Limerick and another one somewhere else, I think I heard him say.

This morning's departure from Ennis came later than my usual 9am flights. This meant we got to sleep in three hours longer. It also meant flying through JFK and waiting seven hours until my flight to Austin. Despite the long wait, it was worth it.

The Aer Lingus plane was nearly empty. The flight attendants shifted passengers around so everyone had a row to themselves. Even then the plane had many vacant seats. The flight lasted six hours and 40 minutes - an hour longer than the flight to Ireland.

Searching for flights for my February trip, I noticed there were no flights with Aer Lingus flying from Austin. I asked the agent at the Shannon airport why this was the case and she informed me flights during the first three months of the year were suspended from Austin due to the two planes' 12-week maintenance during that time. In this case, I will need to fly with United Airlines.

As I searched for something to eat at the JFK airport, I recalled last night's dinner. A most wonderful meal we ate together. He made filet steak for himself and salmon for me. He also made mashed potatoes and steamed carrots then served everything with sliced fresh cucumbers and baby tomatoes. Everything was plated beautifully. For dessert, we ate the yogurt cake I baked the day before. Afterwards, we watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset - two films by director Richard Linklater. Even if we had eaten bread with cheese, the simple act of eating a meal together is most important.

Sometimes we take for granted the simple things in life. The everyday things such as someone taking the time to make a meal for you and taking the time sit with you to eat the meal together. Lighting some tealight candles for a relaxing atmosphere or taking a walk together out in the cold winter night are other little things which we tend to remember most.