Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Last night, I sat down in front of my computer to download a few pictures for the blog. The pictures were of the spit splice I am doing for Italian's sweater, but the camera stayed off and the computer screen remained dark and blank. I couldn't do it. The topic seemed trivial and insignificant. You see, I had just returned from driving across the state for a funeral. My uncle had passed away last week and the funeral and burial was yesterday. I was hoping to use the blog as an escape. It was a chance for me to focus on something else instead of a loss, but what I failed to realize is that this blog is my story and my family was going through the end of a story.

My family is Irish. We came to Ireland in the 1300s and lived there for centuries. One part of the family immigrated to the United States in the 20th Century. (I believe it was my grandfather's parents, but honestly, I'm not sure.) I mention this because stories are very important to the Irish. We have great poets and novelist. Our history is comprised largely of ancient stories and legends. Fairy tales and myths are part of every day lives and beliefs. Stories are found in the knitted sweaters and in bar songs. And every Irishman (and woman) prides on knowing stories and being a master of storytelling -- a seanachie for the family.

My uncle was a storyteller, but he told stories of a different kind. His storytelling consisted of letters to editors focusing on political and social issues. His life was a story as well, filled with pain and sorrow and joy and love. I learned a lot about him yesterday and about my family. I learned that my family is broken in many ways, but it is also solid as a rock when a storm approaches. I saw my family pull together, and I saw my family share stories of their past.

I found out things that I never knew before, like how Cokes at one time where only a quarter (after inflation, they were only a nickle at one time). I found out that my uncle and my dad shared a room and they had similar taste in music, that the kids would rarely ever get soda, that privacy was hard to come by in a large family, that little sisters adore older brothers, that my uncle knew the mayor, that he had received rewards, and that Taps is heartbreaking when heard in person. I found out that my dad's cousin couldn't turn a heel on a sock and she would mail the sock to my great aunt who would turn the heel and mail the sock back to her. I found out what my grandmother was like as an aunt, what my uncle was like as a cousin, and what my family is like as friends. I heard many, many stories yesterday. I look forward to hearing more.

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