Tuesday, June 14, 2016

This one's for you Dad...

Photograph by Judi Getch, Doolin, Ireland

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

With Father's Day coming, I thought it would be a good time to talk about my Dad - funny, I could talk about him for hours and hours.  I could tell you what a good man he was, what a great sense of humor he had, how everyone loved him and how much he loved my mother and his "three girls."  But I really want to tell you about the dream that he had of taking us all to Ireland -- a dream left unfulfilled when he died young. 

It was something that I had struggled to understand for years, not that I constantly thought about it, but when I did, I could never make sense of it.  We were of Lithuanian descent!  There was not a drop of Irish blood in us.  Why did he want to go to Ireland?  

Finally a few years ago, I decided that I had to make that trip for him - had to discover why he had wanted to visit there.   I asked my sister if she wanted to go... that I was going no matter what.  She hesitated at first and said Ireland was not high on her list of places to see, but yes, she and her husband would meet us there.

And so we all flew into Dublin and started our adventure.  Our first stop was the Guinness Factory.  We toasted Dad in the glass lounge at the top.  We felt that if we didn't discover what we were looking for, at least we were here and part of his dream was fulfilled.  

Since my sister's husband and I had both driven on the "wrong side" of the road before, we did all the driving, swapping off days.  We headed south, stopping at Glendalough and then onto Kinsale where we had a rented cottage on the water.  I wish that I had space to tell you about all the funny things that happened, but those are best left for another time.  Our next overnight stop was at the Parknasilla Lodge at the beginning of the Ring of Kerry.  After driving the Ring, we went onto the Beara Pennisula and then ferried across the Shannon River.  I thought of my Dad here.  I wondered if that crossing would have brought to mind the stories that he told of my Grandparents living on a river in Lithuania?  

Next, we visited the Cliffs of Mohr and then went onto our house in Doolin.  We loved Doolin and couldn't wait to visit the Pubs and listen to the music.  We had been told that Doolin was the center of Irish music... and so it was.  As I sat there in McDermott's Pub, I could imagine nights long ago when cigarette smoke and the smell of peat filled the room.  I asked for a couple of songs and as I listened, it came to me why my father had wanted to come here - it was the music.  My sister and I looked at each other and I could feel my eyes fill... it was the music.  My Dad was a wonderful musician and he played the accordion, the banjo and the guitar as well as several other instruments.  I could see him there - playing with the band, tapping his feet, maybe even singing.  

We had done it - we had seen to it that we lived Dad's dream.  Our days in Ireland came to an end finally, but I have never felt closer to my Dad since he died than I did in Ireland.  His presence surrounded me - at Old Head, the Slieve League Cliffs, and especially in Doolin, where the roots of his dream were anchored.

When the plane lifted off and I looked down at green meadows, coastal cliffs and the Aran Islands off of Doolin, I knew that I was leaving a part of my Dad there and maybe, a piece of myself with him as well.

Happy Father's Day to all... and this one's for you Dad!


Friday, June 3, 2016

Reliving old... making new memories!

I'm writing from campus because it's Alumni Weekend.  Given that I'm on the Alumni Board, I'm involved in many activities these next few days.  But I wanted to take just a moment to jot down a few  thoughts because a time like this is such a rich environment for a writer.  

Tonight will be wine tasting... I'm one of the bartenders :-) You know how bartenders always hear everyone's stories :-)   And tomorrow there is a BBQ and after that, I'll be loading the Duck Boats with Alumni.  If I'm lucky, there might be an extra seat for me.  I love these tours because the drivers relate so much history and many untold stories of the city and it's founding fathers... and mothers!

Being a writer makes a weekend like this even more enjoyable.  Just think of the tales that I'll hear as I wander the quad or drink with a group of classmates in the Cafe/Pub later tonight.  The pub wasn't on campus when I was here - we only had a coffee shop.  Times have changed haven't they?  But it's a wonderful addition to the College allowing the students to gather and unwind with classmates or boyfriends and girlfriends and enjoy a few quiet or not so quiet moments away from the books.  The revelers will be there late into the night this weekend laughing, reliving individual and group memories and recounting what has happened in their lives since they last met.  Some are planning weddings, some have children in college, some have grandchildren and talk of retirement, some have suffered great losses.  Many of us have wandered down roads very far from our original dreams.... are our lives better than we dreamed they would be or worse?  Sounds like some wonderful stories woven throughout this weekend including my own.  Never in a million years did I ever think my life would play out like it has... and other than the losses I've suffered, I wouldn't change a minute of it!

I'm off to join the 'gang'  -- will write more when I can.