Friends are special people in your life and they don’t come more special then Brenda and Liam (her husband).
I first met Brenda at a dance in Toureen Ballroom (of romance) in June 1962 when she was a very shy and pretty 17 year-old, as was I (shy I mean). Maybe I danced with her even before Mary my wife. In the beginning they seemed like twins, and maybe four years together in boarding school in Tourmakeady was the reason. Mary and Brenda have been the closest of friends for more than 50 years.
I rate Brenda as one of my best friends, in that on one occasion in my youth I allowed and trusted her to cut my hair: the sign of a true friend.
In September 2008 she had all her injections amidst her terror of needles, to enable her to come with Liam, Barry, Pat and ourselves to Malawi. She was a wonder in the way she took to the villagers and them to her. She is now referred to adoringly as Gogo Brenda (Granny Brenda).
I paid my first visit to Malawi in September 2008. I went with my good friends John and Mary Coyne who set up Wells for Zoë. What a wonderful experience I had. I met some extraordinary people. The women of Malawi impressed me most. They seem to do most of the work as well as rearing their families.
Two very special women I met were Mary and Eleana. They live on the farm where their husbands work. I went to visit them in their homes with my friend Mary. They had such a welcome for us. They brought us on a tour of the farm and had a tremendous pride in all the work that is going on there.
They are such happy people with broad smiles and open arms. They love their children and were delighted to introduce them to us. Their needs are very basic and their food very scarce; still they have such a joy in their lives – that really impressed me.
Our lives are so different. It taught me so much, I could say the whole experience changed my life. I thank God each day for all the good things in my life.