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Fear no more the heat of the Sun…

July 7, 2012

…The first line of Shakespeare’s poem in which he expounds

‘Golden lads and girls all must

as chimney-sweepers, come to dust.’

I knew a golden lad once.  We were all teenagers together –  a small gang .  Quite naturally, as the years went by, we took different paths. Before that, Seán O’Sullivan was one of  us planets: giddy, spinning, orbiting Youth. 

When we were sixteen, a few of us convent girls were drafted into a Rice College boys’ school performance of the ‘Student Prince’ :  teenage heaven. We didn’t realise then that thirty years later we would still have ties and bonds that bring us together –  however sporadic the meetings.

I was into Art back then. I was horribly romantic. I persuaded my friend Janette to sit for a painting. She had, and still has, a great profile. I hunted down Seán because he – well, he was golden. Seán swam. He was a lifeguard. He had a great body and a handsome, smiling face.  In an American teen film he’d be the one every girl wanted – and he would have an ego to match. Seán didn’t have an ego. He was gentle-voiced and – oh, lovely. In spite of the fact that his friends might have teased him unmercifully, he sat for the painting.

I spent over twenty years in Dublin. Our paths didn’t cross much. I saw him a while ago in Ennis –  in the distance, with his sons. A golden man with golden sons. Other friends, who still live in Ennis, met Seán all the time. Listening to them, it seems to me that Seán never changed.  He was still someone we adult women smiled about, remembering our teenage years. He was a lovely man.

Yesterday Seán went for a swim. The sea kept him close, for too long.

A golden lad is gone.

For Seán  – the last words of that Shakespeare poem –

‘… renowned be thy grave’.

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