St. Patrick’s Day is a bit of a challenge for me.
Being an Irish girl raised on the south side of Chicago, I’m proud of my heritage and relish every tradition; red hair, pale skin, fiery temper, fatty foods and exceptional liquor tolerance included. The original Comiskey Park was within walking distance and quickly became my second home. As was Shinnick’s Pub, where my stepfather would take me after a game so he could enjoy a cold brew while I would play horseshoes with the waitresses in the backyard. The bartender was usually nice enough to give my underage ass a shot glass of beer on the sly. Back in those days, you could get away with something like that without fear of being shut down.
But also on this day, I lost one of the most prevalent male figures in my life. 24 years ago, my Grandfather Asher, my dad's dad, passed away of a sudden heart attack in his home. And things haven’t been the same since.
Correction ~ I haven’t been the same since.
Growing up, he was always a kind and gentle man, yet feisty when necessary. His laugh was so intoxicating, you couldn’t help but laugh along with him. He came to America from England as a boy in the early 1900’s and would love to tell stories of his childhood. He considered bacon and Yorkshire pudding a food group, and enjoyed his tumbler of whiskey on the rocks each night after dinner. Every time I would see him, he would polk me in the belly and play-fight me, only to quickly to pull me close for the most amazing hug ever. He spoke his opinion and never apologized. He loved wool coats with the brown elbow patches (the height of late 70’s/early 80’s fashion.) He could wear a London Fog raincoat like a rock star. He use to have an old-school roll top desk in his den, where I would play as a child, inhaling the intoxicating smells of pulp paper and fresh ink. He could be boldly crude yet spot on-mark. He taught me how to play a wicked game of Yahtzee and the true definition of the phrase ‘colder than a witches tit in a brass bra.’
Yea, he was that cool.
I loved the hell out of him. I respected him. I needed him to complete me.
When he passed, I was devastated. Being the first person close to me to die, I was overwhelmed with devastation, disbelief, heartbreak and anger. This process took years. He would visit me in my dreams, perhaps as a form of closure, but these visits would be so disturbing that I eventually asked him to leave me alone so I can grieve properly. Eventually, years later, I finally reached the state of acceptance. And in that state of acceptance came a sense of peace. I realized that even though he’s no longer here, he’s still with me. Death is just a different phase in our relationship.
Now, as a grown woman with kids of my own, I take comfort in knowing that he’s out there somewhere, looking after his great-grandchildren and me. If I ever reach a turning point in my life, I know he’s there to guide me. To pay homage, I gave my son the same middle name as him. He’s always in the background of my mind and will forever be a part of who I am. Opinionated, blunt and ballsy, yet kind and ever faithful ~ yea, apple doesn’t fall far. And I’m proud of it.
I love you Grandpa, and I miss you every day. I’m looking forward to the day when we can be together again to laugh, hug, and play a killer game of Yahtzee while sharing an epic tumbler of whiskey.
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