I can hear your soft Irish lilt humming into my drowsy ear, waking me to a morning filled with sunshine.
Half a century later I still see us sitting at your kitchen table, I’m a six year old, spooning warm tea, dribbling a soft boiled egg onto a piece of buttered toast.
I remember smiling at the laughter you and grandpa enjoyed at my proclamation that I ate three breakfasts every morning.
You were my connection to the wisdom and ways of the old world; extolling the luck of the shamrock, the lore of the shillelagh, recounting the haunting mysteries of the banshees, the mischief of leprechauns and the magic of nymphs.
You were my passport to a gathering of the proud O'Brien and Cook clans.
You opened my ears to the thrill of distant Philadelphia cousins crooning folk tunes to happy bagpipes while my widening eyes watched young Colleen's ecstatically jig the night away in full regalia with stiff armed step dances.
You are my maternal cartographer, your DNA etched the map of Dublin onto my face.
You are the wellspring of the Liffe that courses through my veins.
You were the cook who conjured the nourishing aromas of a Sunday’s sustenance from a boiling ***; simmering ham, cabbage and potato to succulent perfection.
It is a meal that still sustains me.
The warmth of your apartment, the dainty doilies and light filled lace curtains, the spoken hopes for a sweepstakes ticket and the hushed murmurs of deep sadness the devastating toll alcoholism extracts from a troubled family steeps deeply within me.
I see you kneeling in prayer; the muse of your brogue whispers endless strings of Rosary incantations.
Angelic fingers anoint each blessed alabaster bead with the piety of an honest soul.
You endlessly cycled through the family’s litany of sorrow and hope.
With a matrons fortitude and an inner strength women possess to bear the weightiest of burdens; you sought the resolution of release from the crush of worry and woe, by diligently lifting these delicate hosannas to the Mother of Sorrows compassionate ear.
Your petitions to the Blessed ****** as intercessor, allays all fears that your light prayers will not be lost in the incomprehensible clatter resounding amongst the heavenly spheres.
You knew The Mother of Perpetual Help understands and will ask her Son to whisk all burdens away with the flick of his feather of absolution.
When your daughter became ill you came to mother us.
You fed us Thanksgiving Soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner till the last drop of gratitude was consumed.
You made sure homework assignments were completed.
You drilled me with spelling quizzes made difficult by my inability to decipher the letter H through your Gaelic Haayche.
Your exclamations to “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” was fair warning to give Grandma Tippy extra sway.
You were fond of cats and took pity on our mangy Tom sympathetically imploring us to “look at the face of it” before laying down another fresh saucer of milk.
It took me years to understand why you would commence to polish my mothers tarnished silver plated tea service as the first thing you would undertake upon entering the house.
As a house keeper for the wealthy, the sparkle of your daughters silver plated tea service was confirmation that class mobility and your enduring belief in America’s economic democracy was real.
Your daughters tea service was just as worthy and on equal footing with any tea service adorning Englewood’s finest homes.
At bedtime your silhouette would would fill the doorway of my bedroom.
The lullaby of your blessings filled the room.
From that safe distance you would dip a brush into a jar and sprinkle holy water onto your grandchildren.
When you passed away I beheld your magnificent presence in a state of eternal repose. You wore a blue flowered dress. Your clasped hands held a Rosary.
I surmised your closed eyes were filled with the visions of rest and the soft light of a glowing glory.
Your lips gently smiled. I knew you were in the tender arms of your loving Lord.
The Blessed Mother now tended you, coddling a newly arrived saint in the loving embrace of a mother’s unconditional love.
I thank you and bless you my beloved Grandma Tippy. I am caring for your Rosary Beads. I consider them a precious gift and most valued treasure.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Margaret "Grandma Tippy" Minehan Love Jimmy