“Chuck, is that box of St. Patty’s Day stuff down from the attic?,” I called from the bathroom while applying green eyeliner. I was heading out to join up with my friend Maureen and a few others to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Chalk it up to the procrastinator in me to wait until 20 minutes before leaving to need access to the box of decorations, hats, beads, cups, etc.
Chuck took a moment from reading The Huffington Post on his computer to climb up the ladder to the attic, and within minutes, he called down, “Here,” meaning he was up there ready to pass the box down.
“Yay,” I reached up and lowered the see-through Rubbermaid container brimming with all things green. I placed it on the window seat and took off the lid, to find a small cheery leprechaun on top. Numerous other décor, along with plates, napkins and other party serve ware lay beneath. I retrieve the small leprechaun hat and shamrock scarf that my Trudy wore in one of my favorite pictures of her. My own Irish eyes smiling, yet starting to well up, I place the hat and scarf back in the box.
“Oh, my God, remember when we used to actually have St. Patrick’s Day parties?,” I asked aloud, without expecting an answer. I thought about the last one we had, back around 2003. My brother Brian and his girlfriend (now wife) Kim were in town from Austin, Texas; they had helped with pre-party decorating, then went home and changed, returning later to a houseful of people they had never met. They wound up having a great time, and later, I had a few friends tell me how much they had enjoyed talking to Kim.
I am glad to have those memories, yet sad to know things have changed so much over the years. It all seemed to start sliding downhill after the death of my mother.
The death of my mother, how could I forget? I was so busy pulling myself together, assessing St. Pat’s décor, etc., that I forgot that this, March 11th, was the 5-year anniversary of my mother’s passing.
For a brief moment I felt, and believed, the stinging accusations from Brian that I was “selfish, uninteresting and toxic.” After all, how could I not wake up this morning with my mother on my mind, as I had exactly five years ago, when Brian called me at 6:00 a.m. to tell me the news?
Thirty minutes later I have joined up with Maureen and her small group of friends and 13-year-old daughter Tess along the parade route, and they (the adults, anyway) have already had a few of the Jell-O shots that Maureen traditionally hands out to parade marchers. I discretely pour a Coors Lite into a plastic handled green cup with shamrocks, and we cheer the high school band that is passing. I think for a moment about when I was in my high school marching band, pounding at the bass drum; hard to believe that was 40 years ago.
I think about my mom a few times as we watch the parade, and I wonder if she would still be proud of me, as she always seemed to be. I grow melancholy for just a moment, but I look over at Maureen and Tess, mother and daughter dancing and cheering, and soon I am caught back up in the merriment.
After the parade our small group heads over to Balboa Park where the St. Pat’s festival is in full swing. A few from our group make a beeline to the food booths, but, not hungry, I instead meander over to a jewelry booth. This jewelry is made from old utensils. I think about my mom again, and how she loved rummaging through yard sales, second hand stores and swap meets for old utensils. She would buy them, shine them up, and either resell them, give a few pieces to her kids or hold onto them.
I buy a pair of earrings made from demitasse spoons. They’re embellished with little crystals and creatively bent wires. I tell the man (who makes them) and the woman (his wife) at the booth how much they remind me of my mother, and why. Their smiles let me know they understand. I wish them luck with their business, then I join back up with my friends.
I read somewhere recently that green is a very calming color; anytime you are stressed, look at something green — whether it be a plant or other form of nature, green cloth, green walls, etc. — the color can sooth you. The crowd in Balboa Park is vibrant and happy, and green is all around. Not so much soothing as it is nourishing; nourishing to my soul, and a reminder that life is beautiful, and that, no matter who goes out of your life — either forever or temporarily — your own joy is up to you.