Monday, March 23, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

 While it may have originated as a holiday commemorating 'the arrival of Christianity' in Ireland, it's now commonly observed as a 'celebration of Irish culture'...and the Irish are famed for their luck.

My Nephew, Jimmy: March 17th was my birthday ~ my mantra as a Senior Citizen is:  I'm not old...I've just been young a long time.  My day began with numerous congratulatory from my nephew in California whom I've known since he was 5 years old. (That event was when visiting Chile, having my 4-year-old son with me. Next time I met him was autumn 1992.  Jimmy spent 6 months visiting his Aunt Alice in Montreal and us in Burlington...conveniently here for my son's wedding. Upon his return to Chile, he married...then a little later moved to a computer job in California. Such a   a joy for me to meet him and his wife a few times while my son was on work assignment there also!  Communicating frequently, we keep well-family-oriented!  This morning he sent me Birthday Greetings including a family photo with his wife and two boys...who had prepared posters honouring my Birthday.  I share his words with you, dear readers, as they are the most precious any nephew can write to his favoured aunt:
Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday!
To my dear Tia Merle...the great, unique and favourite aunt.  I wish you, dear Tia, the happiest birthday ever.  I will never ever forget the great expectation when I was a child, of your coveted birthday card with one Canadian dollar enclosed for me...which would come every single year for a time remembered as a true lifetime.  I even get emotional when I think of nice of you, dear Tia!  Thank you for being so cool...always there...present and ready to read and advise.  Thank  you, thank you, thank you dear Tia.  These colourful flowers I send represent my truly deep feelings for you, Dear Tia Merle.  I send you a big hug and best sentiments from Marcela and boys.
(This message and flowers brought tears to my eyes.)

My Son's Wife called at 10:30 to wish me Birthday Greetings...along with their children whoexpressed congratulations and chatted about University and High School. They plan to meet next week with a commitment time convenient for all. In early April my son will be home for medical appointments.

Lunch with Friends at the RBG:  It was 'Spring Break' ...the Royal Botanical Gardens was packed with families galore visiting exhibits and participating in structured activities...and The Frog Show  was on display…featuring 17 species from around the world. At 11:30 I met with long-time friends for lunch at The Garden Cafe...the food delicious and the ambiance superb!  These ladies have been friends over many, many always a pleasure when we get together!

A Little Boy Made My Day:  In honour of St. Patrick's Day, I was dressed in a gauzy forest green dress threaded with fine silver striping...wore long green-stone dangling ear rings and green hand- jewellery. At the table behind me, sat a mother with two small blond-haired boys.  Mommy rose, leaned over my shoulder and said, “My younger son commented to me about you and said, 'She's Beautiful!'.  I glanced at this little boy who appeared to be 3 or 4 years old...and motioned for him to come to me.  Very shy, he was reluctant to do so.  I went to him...hugged him...and with a kiss on his cheek, said,
“Your words were very sweet!”  Quietly he murmured, “Thank you.”

The Coffee Club is a group of about a dozen or more women from my seniors' complex who socially meet every Tuesday afternoon from 1:45 to 3 pm for social friendship, coffee, tea and light snacks. A birthday cake with candles celebrates those whose birthday falls within the month.  Each person also presents a Birthday card to the honouree(s). Jeanne and I blew out the two candle flames making a wish.  One of the attendees, Jane had asked me to show her a photo of me in younger days. My wish was to look like this black leathered motorcycle gal complete with black helmet...a photo from 1993. (in those days I was a “Harley Honey”…as females were called). I read all the card messages and exchanged so all could view.  A card from Barbara ~ depicts a tropical rain forest  'scape' of a series of tumbling waterfalls. On the left inner side, a Biblical quote from Genesis 1:27:  So God created people in his own image;  God patterned them after himself. The card further reads “and the world needs you just the way you are.”  
 With her signature, she writes,“Enjoy Your Day...Happy Birthday, Merle.”

The Mailbox:  A birthday card from my son arrived...postmarked from New York City...with his usual humour to MOM.  I don't have the inspiration to write poetry like you do.  But I know you would be thrilled with a birthday card...and further adds...I know to you, 'Age is just a number” you can privately enjoy your special age!

Back to St. Patrick: Returning to my apartment, I'm was in receipt of an email from my son who forwarded the following from an article by Ted Olsen...The Real St. Patrick:

'Tis the season for parades, green beer, shamrocks...and articles talking about why St. Patrick's Day isn't all about parades, green beer and shamrocks.

First, a few misconceptions about Patrick:  Having never been officially canonized by Rome, Patrick isn't really a Saint.  And Patrick couldn't have driven the snakes out of Ireland because there were never any snakes there to begin with.  He wasn't even the first evangelist to Ireland.  (Palladius  had been sent in 431, about 5 years before Patrick went.)  Patrick isn't even Irish.  He's from what's now Dumbarton, Scotland (just northwest of Glasgow).

Patrick was 16 years old in about the year 405, when he was captured in a raid and became a slave in what was still radically pagan Ireland.  Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager.  Even though his grandfather had been a priest...and his father a town councillor, Patrick 'knew not the true God'.  But forced to tend his master's sheep in Ireland, he spent his 6 years of bondage mainly in prayer.  He escaped at the suggestion of a dream and returned home.

Patrick was in his mid-40's when he returned to Ireland. Palladius had not been very successful in his mission...and the returning former slave replaced him.  Intimately familiar with the Irish clan system (his former master, Michu, had been a chieftan), Patrick's strategy was to convert chiefs first...would then convert their clans through their influence.  Reportedly, Michu was one of his early converts.

Though he was not solely responsible for converting the island, Patrick was quite successful.  He made missionary journeys all over Ireland...and it soon became known as 'one of Europe's Christian centres.'
This, of course, was very important to fifth-century Christians...
for whom Ireland was one of the ...'ends of the earth.'

Audrey Hepburn said, “If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, the excitements and worth-whileness I have been lucky enough to have had ~ not the sadness...nor miscarriages...nor my father leaving home...but the Joy of Everything Else.”

We're lucky to be exactly where we are...with or without the 'pot of gold'. 
Let's make everyday a “Green Day” for the environment!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 18, 2015
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