I have an affinity to St. Patrick’s day. It’s the Irish in me you see or, at least, what I imagined the Irish to be.
It all started when I was a little girl, perhaps 5 or 6. Back then I had a speech impediment. I couldn’t differentiate between my S-es and SH-es; TH –es were next to impossible and Rs were said with great difficulty. Only my family and close friends understood my tangled web of consonants. Interestingly, I never felt constrained by this. I talked non-stop, sang songs and carried on with careless aplomb. Even when people asked why I spoke funny—and they did—I told them it was because of my Irish accent. I truly believed it. And why not? To back it up I danced an Irish Jig or something I thought passed as one. Resting one foot on my inner leg I would hop up and down on alternating feet while twirling around with my arms arched above my head… worked for me. Unfortunately, as everyone else but me knew, I didn’t have an accent. The little Irish that was in my blood was at least three generations back… I just needed speech therapy.
I wrote this paragraph on March 17 because the day always makes think of my jig, which then leads me to my TH-es and SH-es and finally to my Nana who is the tenuous link to my Irish ancestors. I say tenuous because I know little of her history. She was born in Boston in 1898. Her maiden name was Fitzgerald, a good Celtic name, and was baptized catholic. And there it ends. Oh, I also know she liked St. Patrick’s day and would wear a green ribbon to mark the occasion. Perhaps she told me more back then when I was babbling about shnakes and soulders but I don’t remember. She died just before I turned 14.
I loved my Nana. She was my rock. She read me to sleep, walked me to the store and shared a room with me for seven years. And if she had some ethereal hold on the Irish, well then, so did I. Irish she was and Irish I would be—speech impediments be damned, it was the luck of the Irish that twisted my tongue.
So, a rather belated but very sincere, happy St. Patrick’s Day.