I’m Irish

My friend Dot just sent me a list about how you know you’re from an Irish family. Herewith a few items from that list that sure enough resonate with me.

You can’t make a long story short. True enough in my family where for 90 minutes every night my sister Nan and I had to sit at the dining room table presided over by the much older version of the guy in this picture, here seen as a young man returning to  Ireland to look up his parents’ kinfolk. Also,

Many of your childhood meals were boiled. Make that ‘most’. Poor David with his rich Italian heritage! I met him at 19 and brought him home for dinner and he could NOT believe what passed for routine meals with us: Squash, boiled. Peas, boiled. Even the beef  was boiled unless it was a Sunday when we roasted it grey. I also identify with the statement that…

There isn’t a big difference for you between crying and laughing. I point to my whole 30-year writing career and especially that oddly toned second book of mine Vacationing in my Driveway in which even the most sudden wrenching deaths are served up with an odd garnish or rue and mirth. Then we have…

You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer. Don’t get me started on Mortal sin and the Catholic Church. I will only say that in Lent after the 90 minutes listening to our grandfather hold forth at the table we had to kneel next to our dining room chairs and endure the drone of the Rosary as delivered over the radio by the nasal-voiced Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston.

The last way I will quote that lets you know you’re from an Irish family is that ‘at least two family members don’t speak to each other’ but I have to say I can’t identify with that. The more time goes by the more connected I feel to everyone in my family including even the most distant thrice removed cousins who I know better and better now thanks to this frisky little Internet. Plus it all goes so fast; how sad would you be if you didn’t believe that the dead are all still around? Look at these two young women: one is my girl Carrie born in 1976; one is my mother’s mother born in 1878 and just look at the similarity!  Here too for history our family pioneers: in the top left the father of the young man at the top. He was Dennis Sullivan born in 1830 who got off the boat in Boston and had this picture taken with his four brothers just before they got their legs under them and went off into the vast American landscape.