Thursday, March 14, 2013

Irish Girl


My father moved us to my beloved homecity when I was in kindergarten. It didn’t take many St. Patrick’s Days to realize our school had lots of Irish kids. These pals were descendants of Irish farmers who settled in New England to flee the famous potato famine in Ireland and most had families with deep roots in our city and were proud of their heritage. It was on St. Patrick’s Day that I concluded that I was a newbie and in a way, always would be. That doesn’t mean I didn’t embrace my city or that it didn’t embrace me, but I always felt a little apart from the pack when March 17th rolled around each year.

My mother embraced her heritage too which was Italian and therefore, we were not encouraged to wear green on St. Paddy’s Day. Neither were we encouraged to wear colors in support of the great Italia or in support of Scotland, home to our other ancestors. We went to school un-green and learned that St. Patrick’s Day in Marlborough was sacrosanct.

In second grade I was home sick one St. Patrick’s Day. Aside from the small agony of a cold which was quickly forgotten, sick days meant Mom’s sweet attention, and that was not forgotten. Lunch was delivered on trays and the portable TV was wheeled in to enjoy between naps. The periodic touch of cool hands on our feverish cheeks was balm to the very soul. But on this particular sick day, Mom thought it would be ok to take me out to Shopper’s World for a little fresh air. It was a warm almost spring day, a rare March gift, and as I slid into our station wagon I was thrilled to have a day out with Mom all to myself, another rare gift. We both wore our lightweight spring jackets and even today I recall the warm breeze and the smug glee I felt that day.

I skipped ahead of Mom in the outdoor corridors of the shopping center, my sneakers sliding across the windswept sand and salt left after the melting winter snows. We shopped for thread and buttons and paused so I could dip both my hands in the large button bin and feel the cool disks fall over my fingers like a small waterfall. We ate at W. H. Grant’s luncheon counter and I was tickled when Mom ordered the same thing as me, grilled cheese and chocolate milk. My skinny legs dangled from the round stool and I could barely stop twirling to take a bite of my sandwich. Later I trailed behind Mom as she searched for greeting cards in the card department. It was then that I noticed a display of St. Patrick’s Day accessories, especially a large dazzling green leprechaun hat with a buckle of gold glitter. It was way too big for me and as I dared to try it on, Mom raised an eyebrow and asked, “Now why would you want that thing”? Still, the look of longing on my face implored her enough to buy the cardboard hat as a keepsake for our special outing.

On the way home, I sat in the back seat of the station wagon, proudly sporting my new hat, its brim repeatedly edging down my forehead. I caught Mom glancing at me a few times in the rearview mirror with a half smile on her lips. Then...suddenly, she called out, “My you are a pretty Irish girl today”! And alone in the roomy backseat, and underneath a ridiculous oversized green hat, my dark Italian eyes were smiling.

5 comments:

  1. I love the way you share your memories. Your writing is so vivid I can almost "see" your stories. Your sister shared your blog with me (thanks Debra!) and I have followed it ever since.

    Happy Spring!
    Christy
    www.christymccullough.com/blog

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  2. Thank you so much Christy! I love comments and yours is very sweet...

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  3. I'm Irish and this brought back so many memories for me! St Patrick's Day meant that we didn't have to go to school which was celebration enough in my book. Beautifully written, as ever.

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  4. What a charming memory - I too adore your memories. Your blog is like a breath of fresh air.

    Speaking of which - do you know if the "Return to Loveliness" yahoo group still exists?

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  5. Nice article and great knowledge. Thanks for the share. I love this story and enjoy with your words!
    Green Onyx

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