By: Jeanne Charters
This summer (August, 2011), I had the dream trip of my lifetime. Actually, since I’m writing this in July, I haven’t had it yet. But as you now read it, it’s over.
Confused? Funny isn’t it, but that’s the stuff of deadlines.
Anyway, for my last birthday, my four wonderful daughters gave me a magical gift—a trip for the five of us to Ireland. No men included! All our husbands (well, four of them—one of my daughters doesn’t presently have one) are jealous, of course. I feel bad for them, but hey, guys—that’s life. This one belongs to us.
I’ve been to Ireland before with Matt and, each time, I’ve thought of how much I wished I could share the experience with my girls. You see, I’m 100% Irish blood and so are they. My first husband, now deceased, was Irish. I realize that, considering all the nations who have invaded that magical isle before and since the Iron Age, I probably have some Spanish, Swedish, British, and God-knows-what-else mixed in my bloodline, but all my ancestors came from Ireland, so I think that counts as 100% Irish blood.
If you disagree, keep it to yourself. Let me have my Celtic dream.
So, on August 19, the five of will converge on Newark Airport, having flown from Asheville, California, New York, Maine, and Raleigh. Upon gathering, we will get on a 10:30 p.m. flight to Shannon where we will pick up our mini-van and head out on our adventure. Up for debate is whether I’ll have a Guinness before boarding. I don’t like to drink before big flights but will probably cave to the festive excitement of being with my daughters.
Some friends have raised the issue of having a Plan “B” in case someone’s flight is delayed. I figure we’ll check out Limerick until all flights have arrived and then head to Killarney, our first stop. If everyone does arrive in time for the “together” flight to Shannon, we’ll go to the Cliffs of Moher before we go to Killarney.
My eldest, Cori, will do most of the driving. She spent a year in Japan, so she has driven in a country where they drive on the wrong side of the road in a vehicle with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car.
I won’t bore you with our itinerary. Suffice it to say I feel the most blessed of women to be on this trip with my four favorite people on earth (Matt’s up there, too). You see, my girls are my best friends, besides being my children.
Am I prejudiced? Nope.
Cori, the eldest, has a heart as big as the state she now inhabits (California). Same with Stacia who doctors in Maine. Julie, from Raleigh, is loving, funny, and finally (I think) willing to admit that Republicans are nuts. Don’t write me if you’re right-wing. It won’t do any good. I’m not changing my mind.
Caroline, my baby from New York, is the only single among us. I suppose in my heart of hearts I fantasize she’ll meet a gorgeous Irishman who shares his time between a cottage on the Dingle Peninsula and a penthouse apartment in Manhattan. Of course, he will be single, love music, children, and crazy dogs like her Lizzie. (Sorry, Caroline—even you must admit that Lizzie is a little bit nuts, albeit beautiful.)
Late in the trip, I’ll take them to the museum at Cobh, the harbor from which our family probably departed back during the Great Famine. I think they’ll cry as I did upon witnessing the wretchedness of what those ancestors suffered that forced them from their native land. I know that my daughters will take pride in the strength of those ancestors who survived life on coffin ships when so many of their country people perished.
What I wish for you, dear reader, is the opportunity to visit the land or lands of your heritage as we are doing. There’s inspiration there.
Americans, excepting Native Americans , are immigrants—whether our forebears came over on the Mayflower, coffin ships, or slave ships out of Africa. We must remember that and realize the strength of bloodlines that preceded us.
Such memories are a really great reality check as we ponder what in heaven’s name has happened to our country since the Bush years . It helps us remember that we’ve survived worse.
God bless us all.
Jeanne Charters is a writer, wife, mother, grandmother, and happy faux Southern lady since moving to Western North Carolina nine years ago from New York. Her book funny, isn’t it? is a collection of her favorite columns and makes a great gift of laughter for you or a friend. The book is available at Malaprops, Mountain Made Book Store in the Grove Arcade, or at jeannecharters.com. Jeanne recently completed her second novel and resides in Asheville with her husband, Matt Restivo. Contact her at email@example.com