My father never wore green on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, once he told me that he wore black on purpose, because the Irish aren’t a free people. I agree that we should not assist in the clownification of the Irish, but I think some fun is ok. With a blessing from John O’Donohue, I give you some St. Patrick’s Day pictures.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
I’ve been researching family history and the best I can tell, my grandfather immigrated in 1911 and my grandmother in 1915. My grandmother, Nora Ward, was born in 1897 in Ireland and died in Cincinnati in 1972. I am not sure where she was born, but by looking at records, she was a live-in maid in Cincinnati; I think maybe an indentured servant. Census records indicate that she had a 4th grade education.As I mentioned yesterday, my grandfather lived longer, from 1893 to 1982. William Ford was born in Tuam, Ireland and immigrated in 1911. He lived with his aunt and uncle in Cincinnati. He was in World War I and made his living as an auto mechanic. He had an eighth grade education. He owned his home and my father was his oldest child.
William and Nora Ford also had two daughters and two other sons, one of whom died as a young adult in a boating accident. From looking at records, I think it’s possible that my grandfather had another daughter who was stillborn, but those stories are lost. Often when I spend long enough feeling sorry for myself to be irritated, I think about my problems compared to what these two faced. Humbling, indeed.
Here are my silly children at the St, Patrick’s Day parade in 2008. My daughter was a dancer for a local Irish dance school that participates in the parade every year. Despite the fact that they never met my grandparents or my father, I try to make Irish history tangible for them.
Here they are at yesterday’s parade.
I worry that we bury our history in order to believe that we are self-made men and women. I don’t want the struggles of the past to be eclipsed by those of today. I want to celebrate all people, all struggles, all triumphs. I think there is a time and a place for all just fights, including mine and those of my forebearers.
Yesterday was my day to honor that.
One day, a few hours, even in a silly way, I can stand up and say, “Look. This is where I come from.” It might not sound important to you, but I ask that you respect that it is important to me.I want my ancestors to have their day to be remembered.
Support me in what I think is this small request, and you can be sure that I will fight on the front lines for you. In fact, many have found it’s not easy to shake me. I appreciate everyone who offered their support and understanding to me during this complicated unraveling yesterday.