Wishing you a rainbow for sunlight after showers
Miles and miles of Irish smiles for golden happy hours
Shamrocks at your doorway for luck and laughter too
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through
I’ve heard stories of random acts of kindness and the anonymous hand who feeds the stranger. I’ve seen thankful cries in desperate times for the help that she once lent. If love is patient and love is kind if it does not envy and it does not boast. If love is not prideful and does not dishonor others. If it is not self-seeking, easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Then I’ve touched a hand that’s touched God and it keeps me afloat amidst the current.
I can see her standing there on the sidelines, rosary beads in one hand and a shopping bag full of 20oz Gatorade bottles in the other. It is a Saturday in mid-January and this sixty-some-odd-year-old lady is bundled up in a green jacket, a scarf, rain boots, and blue jeans. Her hoots and hollers are slowly followed by referee whistles as the frost of the winter morning gives way to little league football. I am 9 years old. As the game ends we line up to shake hands horizontally across the gridiron and snow flurries drift through the air. This woman in the distance is my grandmother and she has once again made her way down to the football field to watch me play on this early arctic New York of a morning. She never missed a game! With a smile on her face, she passes a kind remark to those who walk by and slowly hands out bottles of Gatorade to the unfamiliar faces of young players who slowly drift away. Selfless, loyal, elated to give, no questions asked.
A Joy in giving and in being! Love of action and triumph! Willingness and sacrifice for the underdog! She would take us to New York Giant football games when she was in her 70’s, laughing and rooting with the best in the Meadowlands. Love of good over evil, standing up for what was right, never backing down. She chose to take the road less traveled, to face the beast with all of her chips on the table, to do what was right regardless of the consequence. The universe rewards the brave and shamrocks appeared along her path!
To dig in and carry on through chronic shingles and cancer reveals grit. To not complain or show weakness reveals true strength. She held true to who she was and guarded her honor with an iron fist. She was the pinnacle of a mother! Banging nails well into her older age and feeding the birds daily, she balanced strength with gentleness and love like nobody I have ever met. Children made her truly happy. I can still hear the sound of River dance Celtic music, Jessica by the Allman Brothers and Sugar Ray. She would play music as she cleaned the house. It seemed like she cooked and cleaned for us all day. Bacon and eggs on Saturday mornings, football Sundays, and Walker Texas Ranger at night – she loved a good fight!
33 years now, I’ve seen many people come and go yet she was different than all the rest. Her qualities as a mother, a grandmother, and a person are hard to match. On the wall in her kitchen hung an old Irish shillelagh and the picture of an Irish greeting. That was her to a tee. Tough but welcoming, just but loving, rigid at just the right times yet sweet as can be. Her refrigerator always stocked with food for whoever came to visit. It stood covered in pictures of her sons, daughters, and grandkids. She never had to tell us how much she loved us, it was more than evident in her presence. She was selfless and she treated strangers as if they were her best friend.
I can only be so grateful as to be raised by such a figure and as I reflect on my life, I know that I am blessed in this way. As I travel on I take her with me always as her message deserves to be shared. As I reflect back on her life I realize that she was much more than just a mother, grandmother wife, or sister. She was the welcoming hand that pulls you out of a ditch when the world is closing in, a true angel in the flesh. She was the disguised omen that those in need often pray for, an instrument of the heavens.
To me, she was a Hail Mary touchdown pass with no time left, Irish whiskey in a coffee mug, the sound of bagpipes in the distance, and the feeling of sunlight upon my face. She is an appetizer sampler platter, a lobster tail with butter, and a Manhattan straight up. She was a Brett Favre fan at their best, a sunny day at the race track and tea at 2 pm. She was a warm blanket when I was cold and a cool rag when I was sick.
It is said that there is no greater love in the world than to lay down one’s life for a friend but only saints and martyrs for the divine can prove that their whole life was devoted to others. My grandmother wouldn’t say it but she proved it.
We are left with impressions, thoughts, and messages. At times we may hear voices, catch a glimpse and then look back, or feel the touch of someone who has left us. I am left with an intimation from the lady in green. She has left it through example, action, and suggestion. I sense in a way that her life was lived as a blueprint on what to do and where to go, on how to find joy and peace. She lived for doing what is right and she did her part in making this world just a little bit better through her presence. Mere words will never do her justice but as we all look forward, we can use her message and what she lived for as a map and guide leading to beneficence.
Stand your ground and fight for what is right. Don’t give up! Make sure to always help those in need. Find glory and peace in showing your sword when the wolf knocks at your door. Be stubborn in love! Forgive quickly! Give your all to what is important! Stand up for your friends. Embrace the beauty of children and animals. Show your love in your presence and by the way you act! Live in the moment and be joyful in making do with what you have. True beauty in life is found in simplicity, forget about the material! Take a vacation every once in a while and always find time for a good meal. You are who you associate with so surround yourself with good people! Give generously but stay humble, don’t forget the man upstairs. Do not gloat or brag but always stay true to who you are! Look to serve others and do the best you can. Put others before yourself and DON’T TAKE SHIT FROM ANYBODY! Remember that the universe rewards the brave so make some shamrocks appear along your path!