It is Spring now.
If some of you reading this have never been to Pearse Road, Spring means one thing, the cherry blossom trees are in bloom. They stand tall like us, magnificent in their beauty. They sway in the wind and bend with it but remain unbroken. They have been there lining the street as long as any of us can remember. For everyone in Ballyphehane they are part of the local landscape and history, for us at Vita Cortex they are an intrinsic part of our memories.
It is Day 129 now.
The cherry blossom trees on Pearse Road are like sentries guarding the road to the factory; our home, once our workplace now a prison of sorts. It is hard to imagine a day when this will be over. But that day will come. We will tell the story of our lives at Vita Cortex to our children and grandchildren. We wonder what pieces of 44 years will survive in the dusty corners of our memories longest. Will we remember Eleanor running around with schedules and sales orders arranging deliveries? Will we recall Helen humming at her sewing machine or Cal arriving on his bike at dawn to collect a truck? In years to come will we still hear Greg directing trucks in and out of the yard or Kevin singing rebel songs on the factory floor? Will it be Denny on his forklift or a young Martina smiling and full of news as she arrives for her shift that we see in our minds eye? Will we hear the hum of the machines, the click of typewriters, laughter coming from Sheila, Maurice and Henry in the office?
Will we remember the tragedies that befell us over four decades? Loosing wives and husbands, co-workers taken from us too soon, sitting by the phone praying together and waiting for news after Big Jim’s accident and Eleanor’s illness. Will it be those days in the 80s, when the economy was in turmoil and we moved to 3 days a week that spring to mind? Or will it be the good times? Big Jim dressed as Santa at the Christmas parties, supper dances, Greg and Eleanor having their usual hilarious arguments, weddings, babies born, the prosperity of the 90s returning the hum of busy machines to the factory floor, the deepening of friendships that will last beyond forty years.
Through all of these, seasons would come and go and when Spring came the cherry blossom trees would once again guard the street, watching over all of us as we worked. Greg recalls bright mornings arriving at the factory and marveling at their beauty. For Alan, Jim and Cal after tiring journeys and long delivery schedules the branches bending over with the weight of the blossoms meant they were finally home. The lads in the yard recall the petals blowing everywhere on windy days, showering the trailers in pink confetti. Many people who have moved away from Ballyphehane, as far away as Australia, have told us that the cherry blossom trees and the Vita Cortex trucks form some of their earliest memories of home.
When this is over we hope the memories we have will be good ones; the strength of our friends, the 5000 strong crowd supporting us in Patrick Street, the children’s paintings in the canteen, the days of hard work on the factory floor, the feeling of accomplishment and self-worth after sales orders were met and delivered, the sunny spring days. We will remember Vita Cortex as it was. We will remember the smiles of our friends. We will remember the cherry blossom trees.