St. Patrick’s Day has always been special to our family. Both sets of my mother’s great-grandparents were born in Ireland. Even though she had never gone there, she always had a heartfelt attachment to the beauty and mystery of her ancestor’s homeland. On her 80th birthday we had an Irish musician come to her house and serenade her along with a group of her friends. Later, she said that was the best birthday that she had ever had.
As I observed the different levels of my mother’s aging, I listened to her reminisce about things, having to do with Ireland, that I knew, in reality, she had never experienced. She insisted to all of us that she had mastered Irish dancing at some point in her life. My parents loved to jitterbug and occasionally entertained us with their talent but Irish dancing was never part of it. Towards the end of her life, I heard her tell someone that she was born in Ireland and she was not.
My mother was a very honest person with a great sense of humor. So, at first, I thought she was kidding until I heard the seriousness in her voice. She always lived in her reality and was very aware of life in general so for her this was unusual. We never questioned her when she said these things because we could see that with her health issues and her aging she found comfort in believing all of it to be true. It became very obvious that it gave her much joy to fully embrace her love of Ireland if only in a dream.
When I think of her, I remember her face when she recounted the stories of her imagined Irish birthplace and I could once again see the light in her eyes and the joy in her smile. This fantasy was a gift to her and well deserved. Her Irish eyes were smiling!
An Irish blessing:
May your heart be warm and happy
With the lilt of Irish laughter
Every day in every way
And forever and ever after.