Irish Legacy

imageToday I send my kids to school with their green accessories, much the same way my mother sent me.

I believe it was fourth grade, and we were living in Jacksonville, Florida. Mom stopped my sister and me at the front door. She seemed more excited than usual. In her hands were two little buttons which she proceeded to pin on our chests. They said “Erin Go Bragh” and had green ribbons hanging from the back. We were confused.

“Erin Go Bragh?” What did it mean?

“Long live Ireland,” we were told.

‘Whatever,’ I thought. Ireland was like a mythical place that our great grandparents had come from. I had no idea that my sister and I bore the hope of generations.

I also had no idea that I would grow up to marry a man who carried more Irish blood than me. Someone with ancestors who “got off the boat” in Philadelphia and stayed, making livings as servants to some of the city’s wealthiest families. The combination of our DNA meant I would have children who are technically more Irish than me.

But now, I carry hopes for them – just like their great, great grandparents who labored under visions of a better life. And the more I learn about the struggles, troubles, and hardship of the Irish people, the more I am grateful for this land of plenty into which my children were born.

Today we celebrate by wearing green and eating shepherd’s pie. Some see it all as frivolous fun. I see it as a day’s rest after hundreds of years of toil. It is a blessed moment in which we acknowledge the perseverance of many, and the joyful hope that springs eternal from hearts filled with love.

May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.

-Prayer of St. Patrick 

Green Cake

The nurses asked me to hold his thin little arms down at his sides while he sat facing me on the examination table. “Hold tightly,” they said, “because there will be a pause.” Each nurse had two syringes, and I could see my son eyeing them with trepidation. My head flooded with thoughts.

Four vaccinations for my five-year old. How have I blocked the memories of doing this with my older two??

This child causes me angst…I know what’s to come, or… not, rather. At one-year old, the doctor stabbed him in the leg with a shot, and he didn’t flinch. When he was three, he cut his forehead open on a tree branch, and he stayed still as stone while the ER doc glued the 3/4 inch tear in his paper-thin skin back together. This is the child who doesn’t cry. At least not when I wish he would.

So I braced myself. And they jabbed him with needles. It felt like it was my heart being stabbed. He didn’t make a sound. I saw his body tense, and then his left arm start to bleed after the first jab on that side. The nurse wiped the blood down his arm in a long red streak and kept at her task. Another needle in, and my young man just flared his nostrils. He watched it all – the crimson cotton balls, the band-aids, the nurses’ murmured consolations, the collection of trash, and their hasty departure when it was all over.

I hadn’t moved from in front of his knees. His eyes were just spilling over when he looked at me squarely and said simply,

“It hurt-ed, Mommy.”

And all I could say before hugging him to stop my own tears was, “I know. I know.”

I am so, so blessed. My son is healthy. And in the local newspaper this week, there was an article about a fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s. Wonderful, generous people shave their heads after collecting donations for children fighting cancer. Families engaged in this awful fight have seen their kids stuck with more needles than they could ever count.

I was thinking about that when I went to bed last night after watching my son be so brave about four little shots, and I woke up this morning, determined to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day thankfully – as the Feast Day that it is. Saint Patrick said:

 “Hence I cannot be silent, and indeed I ought not to be, 

about the many blessings and the great grace

which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me.”

So, I put off my to-do list and made it a day about enjoying my son. He will start Kindergarten in the fall. This is my last St. Patrick’s Day with a preschooler in the house. How did we spend it?

He took a very loooooong and leisurely bath, with bubbles of course, and used almost an entire tube of red bathtub paint turning the water an atrocious shade of pink. This also enabled the plastic Spiderman band-aids to fall off – and neither of us was sad to see them go.

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We attempted a St. Patrick’s Day photo shoot with our “Irish” mutt, Seamus, and got one Facebook-worthy picture out of the experience, along with lots of giggles.  Our Seamus is so darn sweet.

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We baked a cake, made frosting, licked beaters, and even managed to get some green stuff on the cake. We also jazzed it up with dark green sprinkles, because they make everything better!

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And we played Cars 2 on the Wii. I lost every single race. You’re shocked, right? In his knowing way, with all the wisdom of his 5 blessed years, my son reassured me that I will get better. I couldn’t care less. Just to see his smile….

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Whether you are Irish or not, may you and yours be especially blessed this Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte!