Mar 17, 2007

My Name is O'Dwyer

I grew up in a Irish/Catholic home. St.Paddy's Day was a huge holiday for us. We ate Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Soda Bread and drank green Beer, and partied till the cows came home. We were surrounded by green beer drinking Irish, The Kelly's, O'Connor, Callahan, O'Donnell and the like. My Dad drank whiskey and minced no word about it. He passed that on to me and up until this past year, I never touched anything but Bourbon whiskey and I rarely drank a mixed drink. I started with Old Granddad and it took me years to break from that. Give me the bottle or a double with a swallow of a coke chaser. Note, that I am not recommending this. But as a good Irishman, we took our drinking seriously. It's ingrained in me. We're so Irish, let me tell you the last thing I said to my Dad...

Not to poop on anyone's party, let me say that this was a good thing, in my mind, as it held on to the rich culture, a sense of endearment passed down from generation to generation. My Dad was dying. He'd been hit with the Big C, cancer and was in the hospital. I knew it was bad. I knew their wasn't too much time. I knew I could not say, all that I wanted to say. Why? I wanted to cry, hold onto him and not let go but I didn't. The last thing, I said to Micky O'Dwyer of
County Cork was wrought with hope. I'd sat there in the room with him and could hardly speak but sat there, holding his hand. We weren't hand holders or big huggers and we didn't cry.
I had to go, my kids were with a sitter. So, the last thing I said to my Dad, well, I didn't want to let on that I knew he was bad. I didn't want him to give up. I got up, right after I'd said, I'll see you tomorrow and he said ok. I was at the door to leave and hesitated. How do you leave your Dad, the man that gave you pony rides on his back or danced with you, your feet on top of his or wiped your tears with his own handkerchief. He'd then tell me to blow my nose. I'd blow it all into his handkerchief and he'd put it right back into his pocket where he'd had it to start. How do you walk out of a room, holding the skeleton of a man,who was always bigger than life. He was the man who taught you to fight, always carry two guns and never pull it unless you mean it and are willing to cross that line? How do you walk out on a man who came to your rescue, guns locked and loaded, willing to kill and go to prison, to protect you from an abusive man? How do you walk out on a man who told you, that one of his proudest moments, in his life, was when you shot that same abusive man. That man who put you, in the hospital with a serious blood clot in my brain both eyes beaten closed and two weeks later, after police released from jail, I almost killed him? I shot him point blank, in the stomach with a .22 Long Rifle. Dad smiled, when I went to him, sneaking out, as I was on house arrest. I had no phone as this abusive guy had ripped it out and all the wiring. As I told him and I was about to cry, he told me not to cry, they'd never convict me because I had police records of his abuse. As I was leaving him to sneak back home, He said, "Barbara, you are Fighting Irish and I love you." It was the only thing that comforted me at that moment. I'd gone to my Father to ask for forgiveness for what I had done but walked away with strength.
As my Father lay dying and I had to walk away, I remembered what he'd said to me. I turned, smiled, raised my fist and said, "Dad, We're Fighting Irish and know that you are loved." He died the next day and that was the last thing, I ever said to my Dad. So, for me, today, on St.Patrick's Day, I celebrate my Dad, Micky O'Dwyer and all that means to me because I am Fighting Irish!

1 comment:

Dear Prudence said...

Holy Shit Babs. Talk about a life and love. My ex never actually physically beat me, close but not quite but my dad didn't see the distinction. We are McCarthys and the drinking is genetic for sure along with the temper if not guarded. Bless you for your strength, it is inspiring.