Here is a link to a poem that I wrote about St Patrick’s Day. It was published a little while back in the Ghost City Press Review. I penned it while at a workshop led by one of my favorite local poets, Justin Karcher, who also edits for Ghost City. I was very pleased he wanted to include my poem in the review. I know I shared the poem on the blog already when I wrote about going to the workshop, but I would like to talk about the poems deeper meaning today, and the current feelings the approaching holiday evokes.
The topic that we were given at the workshop was “home.” I expressed “home” in that poem in three ways. The city I live in, the country my ancestors come from, and the people who made me- my grandparents. Without Pat and Jim Hannon, there would be no Brigid. Sometimes I like to think about the great architecture that brings us as generations forth after so many eons of existence on Earth. Thing is, aside from my great-grandma Ag, I didn’t know anyone past my grandparents. They are the relics of my family, the keepers of the knowledge of our ancestry.
Three years ago this week, my grandfather passed away. It was the worst Saint Patrick’s Day we have had. Obviously, my family has a tradition of passing around major holidays, which is a little annoying because it tarnishes very happy days that my family always celebrated together. One of those very happy days has always been Saint Patrick’s Day, and when I was young we would go downtown to the big parade- apparently second only to New York City. Buffalo has a huge Irish population, so we have a really big celebration- and we have another one that is only slightly smaller, too, called the Old First Ward parade.
When the bulk of the family stopped going to the big one downtown, my mom got the itch to go to the one in the Ward. We started taking the kiddos yearly, and she would make them a big Irish breakfast and give them non-alcoholic Irish coffee and bake shamrock cookies. The kids were always excited- I remember one year when L was only 10 and he shook Byron Brown’s hand. He thought that was pretty cool- I kept my mouth shut, letting him enjoy what he thought was a celebrity encounter. The girls always seem to have the most fun and look forward to it, so it was no surprise to me when both of them said they wanted to attend this year. But then, my heart hurt.
See, I celebrated Easter with my mom last year, but we only did a small breakfast. Plus, I have the unfortunate side effect of PTSD that makes you black out the time surrounding traumatic events. For instance, I do not remember third grade because my grandmother had just died. And, I do not remember Easter last year, because within the week my mother was in a coma. I do remember last Saint Patrick’s day though, and it occurs to me that this holiday will be harder than the other have been. It is both my first St Patrick’s day without my mother, and the heralding of the end of a year without her.
Yes, Momma died on Christmas, but she left just after Easter- our last conversation was in April, and that is quick approaching. In many ways, we are closing in on a year without her, and that is painful. But then I look to the good. Because she would want me to, you know? The good is that the girls still want to go to that parade. They want to keep my mother’s favorite tradition alive somehow, and for that I am forever grateful to them.
So, Saturday I will bundle up and face whatever crazy weather comes here in Buffalo in March, and I will go watch people walk through the street, cheering and singing. And I will be with my family, whom I love so dearly. And hopefully, my mom will be watching from above, finally having the best seat in the house.