My wonderful Daddad died a few years ago, and St. Patrick’s Day is the day I miss him most. Every year, since I was a little girl, he delivered a green corsage to all his girls on St. Patrick’s Day. My Mommom, my Mom and my aunt, my sister and myself–we all got one to wear on this day.
When I was younger, I was so embarrassed to wear mine to school. No one else had one, and I felt silly. The teachers would ask about it, and they thought it was charming, but kids don’t really like being different, do they?
The first year I really loved his tradition was when I moved away from home to attend Penn State. Daddad ordered a corsage to be delivered that year, and there was a minimum amount of purchase for delivery. What arrived was a corsage that resembled a small green poodle. Green carnations, green baby’s breath, green roses. It was ridiculously, absurdly large. My roommates and I broke it up amongst the six of us, and we all wore one that year, and they were so excited and felt so special and blessed. My Daddad had managed to give us all a corsage, and suddenly and belatedly, and because of the appreciation for his tradition I saw in their faces, I was proud to wear mine that year.
He was an amazing man, and I miss him so much. He was quiet, and brilliant, and funny and kind. He was easy to take for granted because there wasn’t a bit of flash to him, and he was often overshadowed by the large personalities around him. But those who stopped and listened, those who spent time with him, they saw his beautiful heart, and fell in love with him.
He swam with me every day in our lake in Maine, because he magically made it safer. If my Daddad was in the water with me, the man-eating snappers most definitely couldn’t get me. I called him PJ, and with misguided teenage loyalty I named my first dog after him. The dog was stupid and mean, and Daddad seemed bemused by the irony. Daddad gave me away at my wedding, while I wore the dress my Mommom made for me. Two of my sons bear part of his name, and one of them looks just like him. That means the world to me. At my boys’ urging, his headstone reads, “A Good Man.”
We had to have two funerals in two states, and both filled the churches to overflowing. Someone showed up outside the church in Pennsylvania in a kilt and with bagpipes to play “Danny Boy,” and all I could think was that Daddad would have grumbled about those bagpipes being more Scots than Irish. Irish was one of his only sticking points.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.