Monday, March 17, 2014

The Reason Behind The Smilin' Eyes

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far....
-Irish Blessing

I am an Irish-American.  Dad was the first person on his side of the family born in the United States.  I cannot remember whether I found it more humorous than sad or vice versa - when cleaning out his desk at home thirty-three summers ago - I found his passport, which contained a black-and-white photo of my father as a baby.  The passport had a couple of stamps on it. 

As I recall what Mom told me way back when, Grandma Kenny had traveled to the United States to have him, had returned to Ireland with him shortly thereafter before returning again to the States.  Dad died at fifty-seven.  His one and only passport photo was of him when he was less than one year old.  He had not yet developed the habit of putting the end of one of the arms of his eyeglasses in his mouth and sucking on it.  At least he was not doing it in the photograph.

Mom's parents were - to the best of my recollection - both born here.  Before Mom married Dad her last name was Kelly.  Grandma Kelly's maiden name was Callahan.  We have been a Bangers and Mash crowd for generations. 

Today is, of course, St. Patrick's Day.  Having been 100% Irish-American for every second of every day of each of my forty-seven-plus years - and having been an obnoxious drunk (Ah, Alcoholism - the Gift that Keeps on Giving!) for more of them than I would care to admit, today is a day that has always had an "amateur hour" vibe to it.  Kind of like a kissing cousin to New Year's Eve or some such nonsense.  Wherever you go today and whatever you do, be careful.  Whether you are "celebrating" it or not, you are more likely than not to encounter one or more persons who are and it is a reasonable likelihood that among their number will be at least one "Irish for a Day" asshole creating a danger for him or herself and the world that comes into contact with them. 

When I think of St. Patrick's Day I think always of my niece Katie.  Katie is the youngest of Kelly and Linda's three kids.  Much to her father's eternal pleasure, Katie is a St. Patrick's Day baby.  I remember - as if it was yesterday - standing in the hallway of my apartment at 943 Broadway in Boulder when Kelly called me on St. Patrick's Day, 1988 to report Katie's arrival.  

The Kenny men are not known for our love of extended telephone conversations.  As I remember it, the call that morning was typically brisk in its pace and brief in its length.  A report of Katie's arrival and that she and Linda were both doing fine from him, a "congratulations and give my love to one and all" from me and that was it.  Twenty-six years.  Where does the time go?  

Happy Birthday Katie.  Keep on wishing big....

May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of you wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you....
- Irish Blessing


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