Thursday, March 17, 2011

3/17/2011 Irish Girl

Katrina got into St. Patrick's Day! She'd picked out her green pants -- complete with green underpants -- days ago. Her preschool supported the effort, with a leprechaun hat and green necklace.

I wish I had time to explore my Irish heritage. Is it true that my maiden name "Berry" was a change from the original "O'Bara" because of discrimination against immigrant Irish Catholics? Did my grandfather's grandparents really come to the USA as part of the wave of refugees from the famous Potato Famine? My paternal grandfather was raised in the Boston area, where many Irish immigrants landed -- that lends weight to the rumor. My father did a great Irish accent and knew classic Irish expressions -- where did he get those? Hours on and the Ellis Island websites are waiting for me, not to mention yet more hours poring over my grandfather's old photos searching for clues.

I wish I could ask my father. His memories are locked away; the bridge between them and language shattered by Alzheimer's. With this disease, the loss and grief occur without the mourning and closure. He's completely there while being completely gone at the same time.

I know my father would laugh and joke about the horrible offense of wearing orange on St. Patrick's day if he could, or embarrass us by pulling out his pennywhistle or baughran and just playing and singing aloud in any old place. I'm sure he still knows how to say, "Top'o'the morning to yah!" "And the rest of the day to you," in his perfect Irish brogue.

Previous St. Patrick's day were days I just wore green, but on this one, I miss my father intensely. And I know he'd relish his adorable St. Paddy's Day decked-out granddaughter....if he could.


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