“Irishmen are dreamers, musicians, and stubborn people…” That is the lead for the newspaper article that was written about my father. That is what he said. He was a dreamer and a true musician of the mind. Although he did not play an instrument, his hard working spirit and his decency as a person make me honored to call him my father.
For some reason I am not really feeling the wordy stuff today. I do feel I want to honor my mom and dad by posting pictures.
So many people are getting ready to eat their corn beef and cabbage and drink their green beer. For me, this holiday is about the roots that are deep like the crevices in the Emerald Aisle’s shoreline. These crevices go back to Ireland, as my great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from Ireland. I have his immigration papers. I don’t know if the Irish are secretive, but I do not know that much about my grandparents or my great grandparents. I never met my dad’s parents as they died before my parents met. I do know how proud my father was of his Irish heritage. I asked my dad when he was sick with cancer, “Tell me about my grandparents.” He said, “They were secretive,” and he gave me a cold look. I know my dad had a hard childhood. He was literally born into the Great Depression (October 1929). His family owned movie theaters on the South Side of Chicago and lost everything in the Crash. I think that is what makes the Irish so beautiful is the pain they have had to endure (as a country, as a culture, and in history) to survive. It was never easy being green, like they say.
I get sad when I think about my dad. Here is a link to a post I wrote about him teaching me the beauty of nature and poetry: My Father — My Thoreau. I want to tell him so many things and hear his voice. I know all about prayer and how “I can still talk to him,” but it isn’t the same. Sorrow is a deep ocean.
I wish I could walk into the kitchen of my home in Wyoming, circa 2002, before he got sick and smell his corn beef and cabbage stewing on the stove. I wish I could sit down in the living room (Dad would be in his white arm-chair and Mom would be in the other) and listen to him tell a history lesson or recall a St. Patrick’s Day from his childhood in Chicago. I wish I could tell him how brave he was fighting his way out of Inchon in Korea.
I wish I could tell him I finally mustered up the courage to watch, Chosin, and now I understand why he couldn’t sleep through the night, why he wouldn’t let us watch M.A.S.H. on TV, and why he never talked about the war. I wish I could tell him everything I never said, with just one more hug, one more hand shake, one more gentle Irish kiss on his cheek. But I tell him through words, through my writing. My best friend, Heidi, was my maid of honor at my wedding. She is in the photo below. My father told her at my wedding, “Make sure Megan writes. She is a writer. It is in her blood.”
I wish I could tell him how deeply grateful I am that he quit drinking, cold turkey, to be a better husband, to be a better father, to be a better man, and ultimately to save his own life. The memories of war and the Great Depression as his childhood backdrop haunted him. He lived through so much and never complained about it. The fact that he got out of bed each day, with 70% frostbite effects to his legs, from Inchon, to go to work as a security guard at the Northern Trust Bank in Chicago and work the second shift, makes me so grateful. He was a man of integrity, honor, and true Irish spirit. I wish I could tell him thank you. Someday I will go to his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetary and introduce him to his grandson, Benjamin. For now, I honor him on his favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day.
As most of you know, my mother has brain tumors. She is in a nursing home. She says my father comes to visit her. They were soul mates. Here is a picture pre kids, when my parents were falling madly in love. My father, ironically, was a photographer. He did not have a zoom lens or a fancy camera, but he captured the magic in a photo. I get my “eye” from his Irish eyes!
I leave you with a video of images and music from Ireland. Blessings to you on this wonderful day that celebrates the Irish and their tenacious and hard-working spirit. May you find your pot of gold. I know mine is carried within the memories and love I have for my Irish family.