September of 2012 was a shitty month for me. My Gran took ill and being based in Scotland and working a full time job, I had to rely on regular updates on her progress/decline from my Da. Being in her early eighties, it didn't seem like she had much fight in her. Respiratory problems and several heart attacks in the space of a fortnight had seen her become very weak.
Oddly, having spoken to my Da at length - it seemed the only things keeping her going were her family and her faith. My Gran is the most Catholic Catholic I've ever met. Me on the other hand - I'm not. I don't believe in God and I abhor the Catholic Church.
I was born into a Catholic family (for my sins!) and raised in a Catholic area in North Armagh, Northern Ireland; yes, I was baptised and I received my Holy Communion. I was, essentially, a Catholic.
I remember the point at which I decided not to be a Catholic. At eight years old, I'd just had my appendix removed. The operation had come only a week after making my First Holy Communion and I was dead excited to go to mass and receive the sacrament (don't ask me why - I just was.) My house was only half a mile from the local Parish, so I begged my Mum to let me go, despite being newly stitched up and rather weak from the operation. She agreed, so long as I bring a friend, so I convinced a friend to come with me and the two of us walked to mass together. Thing is, I hadn't accounted for the pain I would experience during the journey, so by the time I eventually arrived, pale, feverish and weak - I was five minutes late and mass had started. Because mass had started, the pews were full and there was nowhere for me to sit. Feeling very weak, I sat on the floor at the back of the chapel.
The priest giving the sermon at the time, was Father Jordan; a cunt if I've ever met one. Having spotted me sitting on the floor, he stopped what he was doing and started walking down the aisle of the chapel. "You!" she roared, storming towards me. The wretched old fucker proceeded to grab me by the scruff and drag me towards the altar, where he made an 'example' of me in front of the whole congregation. "Good boys don't sit on the floor, good boys have respect for God and stand at the back, if the mass is full. What do you have to say for yourself?"
I was eight. I was weak. And Father Jordan forced me to apologise for my 'disorderly' conduct in front of everyone in the Parish. That was the day I stopped being a Catholic.
In the middle of September, when my Gran was at her worst, I was made redundant from my job as a copywriter at a digital marketing agency in Glasgow.
Twice that week, my family had been called. Twice, my Gran was administered Last Rites by the hospital chaplain. Being the most catholic of catholics, my Gran got a great deal of comfort out of this and each time she received the sacrament, she began to get stronger. She actually started to get better. Weird, right?
With this in mind and having lost my job, I was left with a lot of free time on my hands, so despite not believing in God or the Church - I did something that I never do. I swallowed my pride and went to mass every day. I lit candles. I prayed for my Gran and I wrote her name in the chapel's prayer book.
Now, I'm aware that I sound like a fucking hypocrite. But hear me out. I did all of those things to help save my Gran. Not because some big cunt in the sky is going to hear me praying to him and think 'Ah, right! That Larkin bastard has come crawling back, better save his Nan.' No. I went to mass and lit candles and prayed for my Gran because AFTERWARDS, I could ring my Da and say 'Alright Da. Tell Gran I went to mass for her today. Tell her I said two Our Fathers, three Hail Marys and a Glory Be for her. Tell her I lit a candle.' Tell her I wrote her name in the prayer book. My Da would tell her all these things. And she'd feel good about it. She'd feel stronger. And she'd keep fighting.
My Gran is out of hospital, now. She's still weak and she's no longer mobile - but she's alive. Now, I'm not claiming that me going to mass helped her in any way at all. But I think it did.
The whole thing really knocked me on my arse in terms of productivity and much to my disappointment, I'm still currently unemployed. Sorry, 'freelancing', I'm 'freelancing'. I hope my Gran survives 2013 and I hope I get a proper job soon.
To 2013! Here's hoping it's not as bad as last year.
We're off to a good start - after all, we did survive the Mayan apocalypse!