And so this festive feast day rolls ’round again, leaving me pondering my (supposed) green roots.
I grew up wearing green on this day just so I wouldn’t get pinched at school.
We weren’t Catholic, so for a long time I didn’t understand the history of saints and feasts.
I did understand leprechauns, however, because I loved books of legends, lore, and mysterious creatures.
The generations before me were Protestants hailing from rural eastern North Carolina, and despite my ancestry of Rileys on one side and Mayos on the other, our Irishness wasn’t discussed.
I write about this every year: My Granddaddy’s middle name was St. Patrick.
He didn’t love it at all (being a Methodist, or… because that’s really odd?) He had it legally changed to the initial S. in my lifetime.
But my aunt Pat was already named for him.
When I was a young adult, my dad tried to trace the Irish family line, maybe in search of a reason for this peculiar name choice borne by his father (whose brothers mostly had Biblical names like James, Hosea, Job Enoch, Asa…). And Granddaddy’s rustic accent bore traces of Elizabethan English: His brothers Hosea and Asa were Hosey and Acey; a neighbor, Etta, was Etter. Listen to Brits pronouncing Diana today and you may catch it: Dianer.
In short: All I can recall from my dad’s research is a convoluted story without a clear end.
I did hear Granddaddy mention his grandfather speaking of Dublin. Just once, long, long ago.
Nowadays, with all of them gone, I am left to wonder, except that my DNA report says my ancestry is 92% British and Irish. As for strongest Irish evidence, County Dublin is listed second; County Mayo, fourth.
I do know that Saint Patrick’s Day wasn’t an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903…Granddaddy was born in 1906, so…hmmm…
All in all, despite the mysteries, I feel an affinity for the ancient Apostle of Ireland and his Christian ministry. My grandparents were devout salt-of-the-earth people. I am who I am largely because of their faith, their prayers. My husband and oldest son—with a surname tied to an ancient Irish family seat—are ministers.
That’s enough green threads for me to honor the day with a few favorite quotes attributed to the saint. There are prayers that I find profoundly beautiful and worth meditating upon, every day.
But I’ll leave you with these little pearls that make me smile:
Never trust a dog to watch your food.
May the light always find you on a dreary day.
We cannot share this sorrow if we haven’t grieved a while. Nor can we feel another’s joy until we’ve learned to smile (#WhyIWrite).
And from one of my life’s verses, Psalm 46:10:
Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.
I shall, Saint Patrick.
Honestly, Granddaddy did resemble this a bit, sans beard.
with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the monthlong Slice of Life Story Challenge