Sunday, October 10, 2010

Irish Wit(t)

It has turned out to be an Irish themed weekend for me, full of celebrations of life.  Yesterday I was at the wedding of my 24 year old cousin Maggie, a celebration of life for a young couple starting out together.  She chose an Irish theme for her wedding.  On my side (her dad’s side) we are part Irish but she’s very Irish on her mom’s side.  So the bridesmaids wore green, the groomsmen’s vests were pale green, there was an Irish blessing at the wedding ceremony and there were shamrocks on the cake.  The bride’s twin sister, Mollie, gave an Irish toast, and there was much laughter as everyone claimed she mangled it. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it was supposed to be:

May the saddest day of your future be no worse
Than the happiest day of your past

It’s a nice thought.

But there will always be sad days. 

Today I’m going to an “Irish Wake”.  My old friend Jim, who had battled cancer for a long time, died last weekend.  He was always a strong-willed man and toward the end they say he didn’t want visitors.  He also insisted that there be no funeral service.   He always hated funerals.  But he did allow that there should be a wake.  An Irish Wake.

There is an old Irish Blessing that goes like this:

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

I don’t know if Jim believed in heaven, but having his wake a full week after his death is a good way of fooling the devil.

The celebration of Jim’s life will be at a local Irish establishment and I’m sure we’ll lift a glass or two in his honor.  And I’m sure we’ll tell stories about him. As the Irish say, “There is no tax on talk.”   Some of the stories will evoke nods, “Oh I remember when he did that”, and others will be new.  And maybe there will be a few tears.  But there will also be laughter.  It’s what he would have wanted. 

So it is an Irish weekend with both ends of the emotional spectrum represented.  

And there is a twist to both celebrations. My cousin Maggie married a nice Texas boy with a good German last name: “Witt”.   My friend Jim came into my life when he married my friend Deb, who grew up next door to me and who died a few years ago.   Her maiden name was a good German name: “Witt”.  That seems like something out of an Irish novel. 

I’ll leave you with a final piece of Irish Wit:

If you’re enough lucky to be Irish...
You’re lucky enough