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!