St. Patrick’s Day and More

St. Patrick’s Day continues to be celebrated by my family. We are born of Irish heritage, quite the contrary. We are Polish, but we celebrate it as though it was a high holiday.

My Polish speaking father was born on St. Patrick’s day. He felt he was lucky to be born on this day.

Many looked at his life and thought he worked too hard. If he were alive today, his reply to this assessment echoes in my mind, “I’m the richest man in the world. I have a wife who loves me. She is a great cook and baker.  I have six children, twelve grandchildren, and ten great-great grandchildren.”

My dad ‘s life reflects an unwritten saga, but one St. Patrick’ Day story imprinted in my memory is the night my second sister was born. Dad brought mom home from her checkup and the doctor told her to ready herself, the baby may come any day.

I was in first grade. The school prepared a St. Patrick’s Day program that night. My dad dropped me off at my classroom and said, “I’m going to get a good seat so I can’t see your dance. I’ll pick you up when the program ends.”

 My mom stayed home because she was tired. After the program, it seemed like a lot of kids left really fast. There were only a few of us left, so Sister Lillian told us to put our heads down on the desk and wait until she would call our name. She turned off the lights in the classroom and let the coat room lights on. I fell asleep.

In the meantime, my dad never made it through the program to see me. A neighbor grabbed my dad’s arm and said, “Wally, we need to take Marie now.” The neighbor drove my dad and mom to the hospital. Dad planned to take a taxi home and get me along the way.

Early the next morning dad returned home to find out that no one picked me up. He ran to the convent and rang the doorbell until someone answered. Mother Superior woke the janitor.

They both entered the school and walked down to my classroom and called my name. “Daddy, it’s very dark out.” answered. “I was sleeping hard. I am really tired what took you so long?”

My father laughed, “Have good news! You have another little sister. She was born during the school program. Let’s go home and sleep in our own beds.”

So each year we celebrate my dad’s birthday and every year since we celebrate my little sister’s birthday. St. Patrick brought my dad a healthy child on his birthday while keeping another child safe.  

Ligeann se a!

Ligeann se a! (Let the party begin!) Party on America enjoy the day and if you stop by my place the corn beef is cooking. The cabbage is simmering. We’ll toast to my dad contributions and to my sister’s health with Irish whiskey.

One Man’s Journey

I just finished reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  It is a biographical story of an American white male’s rise from the rust belt of the Midwest to the halls of Yale Law School. His journey is not a  meteoric path. The journey is painful, complete with potholes and distracting obstacles.

Vance takes his reader through the agony of his childhood. His “Mamaw and Papaw”  (maternal grandparents) provide adult belief in his talents.  It is at the moment when you think all may be lost when a teacher discovers his true  ability and reinforces what his grandparents always saw in him.

When J.D. applied for college and receives his financial applications, he realizes he has gaps in his education and finances. Skills missing from his resume included consistency, follow through, discipline, stability, social aptitude and awareness. He marched down to his local Marine recruiter and enlisted for four years.

He seeks to discover why he succeeds and grows out of the his home town. This need to know takes him on a self-discovery journey that doesn’t seem to align with his personal experience. You read the book and let me know if you see if he left the puzzle unresolved.