3/17/2006

Happy St. Paddy's Day


For many years I dreaded this day even though it seems almost sacrilegious to hate a day that celebrates my Irish heritage. When I was growing up this day meant some sort of legalized excuse for my father to take the day off work and get blitzed. He's Irish, the real kind, home grown from Belfast. It was in his blood, the tendency to drink that is. The rest of the days he was inebriated I had right to resent him but not this day, everyone gets drunk on St. Paddy's Day. I remember one year that my friends and I went to the parade then out bar hopping. I was pretty intoxicated by noon and as pleased as I felt with myself, I wasn't prepared to see my reflection staring back at me. As I sat there laughing with my friends I spotted my father sitting across the bar from me. He hadn't seen me but I saw him in all his drunken glory. He looked ridiculous throwing his head back in laughter, women hanging on him, slamming those beers one after another. My father is an alcoholic not only on St. Paddy's day, but every day. As anger swelled inside of me sounds echoed in my head. It was the sound of my own drunken laughter. I was my father, he was me. There is nothing more sobering than a reflection of disgust mocking you from the other side of the room. I left that bar, I left that place. I'm not an alcoholic but I believe it's because I'm always aware of who I could become if I let that path choose me.

This year is the first St. Patrick's Day that I don't dread. My father came up to see me about a week ago and he, my daughter, and I attended our first Chicago St. Patrick's Day parade, together. As I stood there watching my dad hold my sweet girl, kiss her cheeks, laugh a sober laugh that filled my heart with ease, I realized that my dad was giving me what he could, a day in his life where I was more important than booze. I caught a glimpse of the man I knew before that disease tainted my memories. My dad is still an alcoholic, that's something you don't erase, but he drinks less and more importantly he doesn't drink around me or my child. I've learned that sometimes you have to take what you can get and cherish it for what it is.

The picture above is the Chicago river which was dyed green a week ago in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I'll leave you with my favorite Irish blessing:

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far.

8 Comments:

  1. NML said...
    Wow, you're really making progress in your relationship with your father. This was a very heart warming post :-)
    Caterpillar said...
    What an amazing blessing. I've never heard that one before, but I'm going to print it out to look at often.

    I'm so happy that you had such a good day with your father. It's definitely a heartwarming story!
    Tab said...
    ((Net!!!))

    My heart skipped a beat when reading about you and your Dad.

    It hit very close to home .

    You have a wonderful way of sharing and I Thank you for that ~

    Have a fab' weekend :)
    WDKY said...
    That's fantastic... it just takes the will to make things better, and they'll get better.

    Wouldn't want to swim in the green water though... Happy St P's Day, NWC x
    Lori said...
    I'm glad that you have a relationship with your father, because it could have so easily gone the other way.

    And as far as alcohol choosing your path, YOU are the one who made the choice to have something better for you and your family. That takes wisdom and strength and insight; seeing the future and knowing what path to take to make it the best.

    I admire your strength, your ability to accept what is, and your choice to walk in your own footsteps.
    NMAMFQLMSH said...
    Happy St. Patrick's Day NWC.
    I see you,
    JJ
    Rex said...
    Wow, your story is o much like mine! You are blessed. My Mom cannot do those simple things that you have gotten from your Dad. The disease has robbed us of those small blessings. I love the quote at the end. Thanks for sharing.
    TJ said...
    Unfortunately I could relate very much to some prior St. Patrick's Day memories with my Dad as well, but it sounds like you had a fantastic holiday with him this year.

    sorry I've been away so long--I've got some catching up to do!

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