A lot has changed in the dynamic of my family over the years. Since the passing of my Grandparents (on my Mom’s side), no one really sees each other like they used to. A few casual encounters here and there, other times for business reasons. Where there were dinners every Thursday night with my Grandparents when I was little, there is maybe a once every few months I see my Mom’s siblings. Drifting away is a part of life but it doesn’t make it any easier not to see the large contrast from the days of old.
However, I find myself closing my eyes…
I can see the stair case in front of me, the china cabinet to my right side and the obnoxiously large map of Long Island to my left side above the armoire where my Grandmother kept all of her bills. I can smell the corn beef and cabbage, and feel the plastic of the yellow table cloth as we set the table to eat. Both my brother and I seated next to each other and my parents opposite us with my Grandparents at each head. We spent every Saint Patrick’s Day like that until my Grandparents moved to Florida. At the time I didn’t realize how much those times would mean. I was a kid just doing what she was told to do and sit where she was supposed to sit, and dealing with the norm of family tradition but now as an adult, I’d give a whole helluva lot to be back there again.
This year is the second year without my Grandmother and Grandfather, we lost Pop to lung cancer in 2009 and we lost my Gram to a heart attack last January. It’s hard to really fathom these holidays without them and I long for the comfort and stability of tradition. Despite, the great loss we feel each year, the memories and the tradition is something that lives in the people they left behind. My mother cooks corned beef and cabbage each year, my Uncle and Aunt just the same. Each year, I look for the American version of St. Patrick’s Day and when I have my own kids, I will learn to cook my own version of this priceless tradition.
Today I am proud to be Irish but sad to be without the two people in this world that loved me without fail. Each holiday, each milestone stings a bit without them but it’s the memories that make for a good enough band aid to keep pushing on.
Sending all my love to my friends and family today, whether you celebrate the day or not, hold onto your own traditions. You’ll never know how much you’ll miss them.