Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Luck o' the Irish

Here it is, Saint Patrick's Day, and I have not a stitch of green on my body. I don't even really know if I have any Irish blood in me, so this bothers me not at all. I have plenty of Italian blood, mixed in with some German, some Polish, and a little bit of Cherokee, but if there is any Irish blood in there, it's incidental. I am a bona-fide, New England-born, American Mutt.

I don't get visited by leprechauns, my ancestors didn't work in the coal mines, and corned beef and cabbage is not a favorite meal of mine. And I used to think that this was a problem. After all, the Irish are a proud lot...and I wanted to be proud too. I didn't think to examine what my own background was and become proud of that.

In the last few years, I have really grown up. I didn't even realize it was happening, but it has happened, and I find many things different about me. I am more firmly grounded in reality, but I am still aware of my dreams. I no longer think that my Prince Charming is going to make me happy...that's my job. And I know that my ancestors left me plenty to be proud of.

On my maternal grandmother's side, we come from a prominent family on Mount Desert Island in Maine. By prominent, I don't mean rich. However, the Dollivers are on that island even today, and they continue to prosper. My great-great grandfather was a lobsterman who worked hard to provide for his family. And lobsterman still work the shores of the island...what a great legacy.

My grandfather on my mother's side was a Nassau County police officer and detective on Long Island, NY. I remember him as a man who loved his family and loved animals. He had squirrels visit him everyday to get peanuts and sandwich cookies on the back porch. We used to visit him and have big feasts of seafood and Polish foods like kielbasa. He was also a brave and decorated police officer, although that was before I came to know him as "Poppa."

On my dad's side, my grandfather's family hails from the South. In fact, we had ancestors who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, and a many-times-great-grandfather was even a prisoner of the Union during the war. While I now live north of the Mason-Dixon line and would have to lay my loyalty on the side of the Union, I have to admire the people who fought for what they believed in during those earlier days of our country.

Both my grandfathers fought in World War II, and I also admire them for their willingness to risk their lives to protect the people at home and those in the other countries with whom we were fighting. It was because of people like my grandfathers that the world is the way it is today...and I can't help but be proud of them.

So this Saint Patrick's Day, I celebrate the fact that, although I may not have much (if any) Irish blood in me, I am proud of where I came from. And I hope to be proud of where I am going so my children and grandchildren can someday look back at my life with that same pride. And I don't even had to drink a green beer to do it!


Rebecca said...


I didn't know about the background of the Maine family. I do, however, remember Grandpa (as I recall him) having "pet" squirrels! Thanks for bringing me this little smile!


JustMe said...

I think that it's really cool and really touching that you know so much about your family and your grandparents lives and that it's something that you are proud of...too bad more people don't invest the time in their families and grandparents especially that they should. I know it's been too long since I have seen my grandparents.

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