From the Desk of Mr. Zissman

The musings of an over-stimulated mind

What St. Patty’s Means to Me

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It would make a pretty sweet tattoo

Ah yes, Saint Patrick’s Day. To some it’s a celebration of Saint Patrick and to others it’s an excuse to get absolutely smashed while listening to the Dropkick Murphy’s or some other Irish band. To me, it was little more than another day to ignore or rather a day to wear green, lest I get pinched by over zealous people. I never really considered much of the Holiday, even with my Irish blood. (My great-grandfather, on my Mom’s side, had immigrated to the USA from Ireland.)

Now two halves make a whole and every person comes from two different families: in this case my Mom’s Side and my Dad’s Side. Growing up I was never really close to Mom’s Side, besides a handful of relatives. Instead my “family” was just Dad’s Side, with Mom’s Side almost like strangers I was close to. Very rarely did I ever spend time with my maternal grandparents and when I did, it was usually a quick “oh hey how are you, only doing this so I don’t feel guilty” type of thing. When Grandpa was dying, it never really struck me till the day of his death, though he was in a long hospital stretch leading up to this. It was the first time I can really remember death hitting me hard.

Years went by and Grandma trudged on, as tough as nails as she ever was, and our relationship never changed, though it was clear she adored and loved me. Every time she saw me, I was always greeted with a “And who is this handsome guy!” followed by a nicotine kiss on the forehead. I always received birthday and Christmas cards from her, though those holidays were never really celebrated with her. It didn’t stop her from showing her love, though.

The years flew by and eventually Grandma had to be moved to a home, where I still continued to visit her. This was a struggle for me because I find nursing homes to be a tad creepy, if not somewhat depressing. Surrounded by people pushing towards the end of their lines, some needing oxygen masks just to survive to see the next day or even hour. I felt as if my very life force essence was being drained from me, just by setting foot in that place.

But it didn’t slow her down, no sir. She still smoked (had a particular brand she had to smoke and nothing else.), still loved her old polka tapes and more. Her mind was starting to slip and it was becoming painfully obvious each time I visited her she was getting worse. Still, even with her mind foggy from the ravages of old age, she still greeted me with that same nicotine kiss and “And who is this handsome man!”

It’s me, Grandma. It was always me.

Eventually the days came and went and her earthly body gave out on her and she passed on to merge with the infinite and holy. Her death hit me deep but not as hard as Grandpa’s passing had been, mostly because I had been mentally preparing myself for The Worst for years now. I, regrettably, could not attend the actual funeral due to my work schedule, but I did attend a special post-funeral ceremony in her honor. It was beautiful, to say the least. My Mom’s family has never been…shall we say, as solidified as my Dad’s, and to see everyone putting aside any differences, qualms or woes they may have in order to simply honor this woman was inspiring.

In the end, I did contribute to her memorial by downloading and burning a mix CD contained of songs she loved. I’ve always felt a deep connection with music so listening to these songs helped me develop a new appreciation for who she was and what she stood for.

Now looking back, I’m nearly thirty years old as I sit here in a new chapter in my life, looking back at the pages I have already written. I feel a fathomless remorse knowing that I could have done more to connect with her. She never wavered nor faltered in her devotion for me, however.

To some St. Patrick’s Day is a train wreck of drunken debauchery, celebrated by a loud, boisterous clique of popped collars and Forever 21 apparel. To others, it’s a time of celebrating St. Patrick himself and what he accomplished in his life. To me it’s a time for me to sit back and remember this woman to whom I played a big part in her life, even if she never played a big one in mine. She had her flaws, sure, but who among us doesn’t? In a sense, we can learn a lot from her love from me. She never stopped loving me, regardless if I gave her a moment of my time or not. And to me, her love is what St. Patrick’s Day is all about.

Till we meet again, Jean McCune-Wagner.


Written by MrZissman

03/17/2011 at 1:00 PM

Posted in Religion

Tagged with , ,

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