One Happy Mick

Our sense of smell is acute and amazingly discerning allowing us to associate aromas and smells with our seemingly unlimited banks of memory.
How about the smell of a box of crayons?
Yeah, that’s a good one.
How many wonderful memories can you come up with there?
I thought so.

I think the holidays tend to elicit the strongest evoking power for obvious reasons.

  • Christmas = peppermint, balsam, sweet baked goods and . . .
  • Thanksgiving = roasted turkey, cranberries, cinnamon,
    clove and . . .
  • Easter = floral scent (Easter lily), marshmallow peeps (yes, they have a scent), hard-boiled eggs (alright, not so good)
  • Saint Patrick’s Day = corned beef and cabbage

When my mother was alive and well no Paddy’s Day went by without her making the Irish dish.
I’ve missed riding out to the house knowing full well my mother would have a pot full of it on the stove and delight in stuffing me silly.
Her corned beef would be cooking all day long and truth be told it must have taken weeks to get the cabbage stink out of the place.
It’s remembering days like those when I really start to miss her.

I worked the entire weekend and had no time to stink the fill the house up with those sacred aromas (you’re welcome, sweet Irish daughters ‘o mine).
It looked like I might go without this year and I must say it thoroughly depressed me.
Murphy + Saint Patrick’s Day = Irish Turkey and a freshly poured Guinness Stout
There’s a restaurant in Boston called Jacob Wirth’s and it’s said to be one of the oldest in the city. Someone mentioned that they may possibly be serving the traditional dish. (Check their link and read the menu. Yeah, huh?)
I called and sure enough, it was on the menu.
Knowing how popular this restaurant is, I had my doubts as to whether I’d actually get a seat.
I opened the old creaky doors and spied an open spot at the bar and immediately sat down.
Perfect, I thought. (And ironically it was right in front of that beautiful Guinness spigot)
The bartender promptly brought me a menu which I politely pushed away, “No need for that; Corned Beef and Cabbage, please.”
I asked for a large ice water but changed my mind when I saw him pour a Guinness with a 2″ frothy head.
He served me my dear Stout and I raised it slightly to the heavens and toasted my Madre for the many years of awesome corned beef and cabbage dinners.

My meal came minutes later and I dug in.

If you’re wondering how my lunch was, it wasn’t like my mother’s but the last place I wanted to go was back to work.
I wanted to stay at Wirth’s forever.

As they say, all good things must come to an end.

I left Jake’s with a stomach full of Irish Turkey and one heavenly Guinness under my belt.
And I was one happy Mick . . .

~m

A wee bit o’ the Irish Humour

“The Brothel”

Two Irishmen were sitting at a pub drinking beer and
watching the brothel across the street.
They see a Baptist minister walk into the brothel, and one
of them says, “Aye, ’tis a shame to see a man of the cloth
goin’ bad.”

Then they see a rabbi enter the brothel, and the other
Irishman said, “Aye, ’tis a shame to see that the Jews
are fallin’ victim to temptation as well.”

Then they see a catholic priest enter the brothel, and
one of the Irishmen says, “What a terrible pity …one of
the girls must be dying.”

“Irish Cemetery”

Three Irishmen, Paddy, Sean and Seamus, were stumbling home
from the pub late one night and found themselves on the road
which led past the old graveyard..

“Come have a look over here,” says Paddy, “It’s Michael
O’Grady’s grave, God bless his soul. He lived to the ripe
old age of 87.”

“That’s nothing,” says Sean, “here’s one named Patrick
O’Toole, it says here that he was 95 when he died!”

Just then, Seamus yells out, “Good God, here’s a fella
that got to be 145!”

“What was his name?” asks Paddy.
Seamus stumbles around a bit, awkwardly lights a match
to see what else is written on the stone marker, and exclaims,

“Miles . . . from Dublin.”

“Irish Last Request”

Mary Clancy goes up to Father O’Grady after his Sunday
morning service, and she’s in tears.
He says, “So what’s bothering you, Mary my dear?”
She says, “Oh, Father, I’ve got terrible news. Me husband passed away last night.”
The priest says, “Oh, Mary, that’s terrible. Tell me, did he
have any last requests?”
She says, “That he did, Father…”
The priest says, “What did he ask, Mary?”
She says, “He said, “Please Mary, put down that damn gun.”

“Lent”

An Irishman moved into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry.
He walks into the local pub, orders three pints of Guinness takes them to a table and proceeds to drink them taking his time.
He repeats this two times and then leaves the pub.

A few nights later he returns to the pub, orders three pints of Guinness, takes them to a table and drinks them taking his time. He repeats this two times and leaves the pub. He continues this for several weeks.
Soon the entire town is talking about the “Three Pint Man.”

Finally, one day the pub owner on behalf of the entire town broaches the subject to the man. “I don’t mean to pry, but folks are quite curious why you order three pints each time you come in .”

The man replied, “I have two brothers – one in America and one in Australia. When we parted ways we all promised that each time we had a drink, we would order an extra two pints as a way of keeping up with each other.”

The pub owner and the entire town thought this was wonderful and were pleased that the brothers meant so much to each other. “The Three Pint Man” became a celebrity not only to the town but to the surrounding area.

One day the man came into the pub and orders only two pints of Guinness. The pub owner poured them with a heavy heart knowing in his soul that something dreadful must have happened. The news spreads around town and people are offering prays for the “Three Pint Man.”

This went on for a few weeks and the pub owner says to the man, “I want to offer our condolences due to death of your brother. We are all heart broken. You know the two pints and all.”

The man ponders this for a few minutes and replies, “You will be glad to hear that my brothers are alive and well. It’s just that I, meself, have decided to give up Guinness for Lent.”

“Vat O’ Guinness”

Brenda O’Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.

“Brenda, may I come in?” he asks. “I’ve somethin’ rather important to tell ye.”

“Of course you can come in. You’re always welcome here, Tim.” says Brenda. “But where’s me husband, Shamus?”

“That’s what I’m here to be tellin’ ye, Lass. There’s been a simply tragic accident down at the Guinness brewery…”

“Oh, God no!” cries Brenda. “Please don’t tell me…”

“I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is gone. I’m dreadfully sorry, Lass.”

Finally, Brenda looks up at Tim and tearfully asks, “Please tell me how it happened, Tim.”

“Aw, Lass, it was terrible. Poor Shamus fell into a vat o’ Guinness Stout and drowned.”

“Oh my Sweet Jesus! But please tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?”

“Well, no, Lass… not exactly.”

“No?”

“No, fact is, he got out three times to visit the men’s room.”

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, folks!

And a tip o’ the hat to this Lass
For tomorrow is her birthday (39! . . . same age for the past five years!)
Breithlá sona duit!

~m

 

Shamrock

the whisper of a song…

In the summer of ’98, we moved my mother to an assisted living facility called Hearthstone.
At the time, it was getting downright dangerous for her to stay at home for a number of reasons: she was driving my father up a wall with questions, she was becoming increasingly paranoid and she would leave the house on a whim and disappear in a wisp of smoke.

The facility we placed her in was secured and specifically designed for people with progressing dementia.
This was to be my first foray into the deeply fragmented world of Alzheimer’s.
So many things happened while she was out there.
From the clinging and uncomfortable goodbyes to the sad moments of epiphany when I realized I was becoming a total stranger to her.
I liked to think I took it all in stride, showing the world my brave face and big shoulders when in reality, many a visit found me in my car afterwards weeping bitterly while forsaking the heavens above.

The God I thought I knew was turning His back on my mother with a deep negligence and offering me little to no discernible shred of mercy.
I was the only one that saw the situation for the tragedy that it truly was.
I felt He “owed” me.
These days I’m beginning to believe that maybe
He was there after all.
They say that hindsight is 20/20 and I believe there were many small “miracles” that happened way back then.
I was just too angry to realize it.
This story is about one of them…

It was St. Patrick’s Day in ’99 that I went to see my mother.
It was a routine visit at best.
I sat with her in the common room at Hearthstone and talked using my one-way conversation that had become a learned ritual.
Usually, when I ran out of things to talk about it was time to leave.
I went into the kitchen and poured a cup of juice for her and went to leave.
For some reason, I decided I would check her room to make sure everything was clean and in order. (Another story in and of itself)

Everything was fine and after talking briefly with one of the aides that took care of my mother, I went downstairs to leave.
There’s a long corridor that takes you past the common room before turning left to the thick oak door that led to the free world outside.

My memory of that walk down the hall goes into slow-mo right about here.

I had a gazillion things buzzing through my mind at the time.
As I approached the doorway leading to the common room I began to hear music—Irish Music—Danny Boy, to be specific, one of my mother’s favorite songs simply because her father sang it to her when she was a child.
As I walked towards the door leading outside, I stopped.
Someone was singing the song.
I turned and walked back towards the doorway recognizing the voice of my mother. I looked into the room and saw that all the residents had their heads bent down, prayer like.
There in the middle of the room was my mother, head back; eyes closed, singing every familiar word I’d known since I was a child.
Ten minutes ago she couldn’t say or remember my name and here she was going solo.
I began to mouth the words sotto voce along with her.
It was about as close as I could get to her in that one solitary moment in time. And it felt wonderful.
It was really her once again.
I’d been given mercy.

~m