Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day Memories

Today as I was picking out which green sweater to wear, I remembered an interesting encounter with my paternal grandmother that took place on Saint Patrick's Day in about 1958. I remember that I was in junior high, and I think my cousin and I decided to walk over to our grandmother's house after school. Right away, I noticed that my grandmother was not wearing green. Since her mother had been born in Wales, I thought that grandma would be wearing green. Boy was I wrong to assume that. In an indignant tone, she said, "I don't wear green on this day. The Welsh wear orange." Wow, that was news to me. I didn't know that a Welshman would wear orange on the day that the Irish wore green.

I was about to get a lesson about my heritage. It turns out that the Welsh would wear orange to show that they were protestants, while the Irish Catholics wore green. To this day, I always think about this history/culture lesson that I learned about my heritage on St. Patrick's Day when I was just a very young teenager. I have yet to wear orange on this Irish holiday, but I always think about it.

I wonder if my grandmother would be dismayed to see me wearing green. She most likely would be somewhat disappointed. After all, when I named my first-born son Ryan, she said, "Why did you give him an Irish name?" It's a good thing I added William as his middle name. William had been the name of her Welsh father and was the name of my father, her first-born son.

This holiday also holds another special memory for me. Forty-nine years ago today, on March 17, 1961, I had my first date with the young man who would one day become my husband. Yes, Jim Wessely and Sally French had their first date on this day many years ago. We went to the sixteenth birthday party for the girl who actually introduced us, set us up, and I think even arranged the party so we would have a reason to go out together. I was a very shy, skinny sophomore in high school. He was a very popular senior. Now, I'm not sure I should kiss and tell, but he did kiss me on our very first date. Shocking, isn't it? I was a bit mortified. We went to the prom together about a month later. At about the same time as our first date, the following quote by him appeared in the school newspaper: "The perfect date for the prom for me must be cute, sweet and short." I fit the short part...I guess that is how I made the cut!

It took 31 years for us to marry after that first date and first kiss. Today, I made new St. Patrick's Day memories with my wonderful husband when we fixed ourselves some corned beef and cabbage for dinner. I've been a very lucky girl to have this great guy in my life through all these years. I hope we have many more St. Patty's Days together.