I blew the dust off Gram's bible. When gram died, the family bible was passed down to me. I remember the first time I laid eyes on the ancient family bible.
It was the year I turned thirteen. It was a magical time. It was me first trip to Ireland and the first time I would meet my beloved Maimeó.
My transatlantic flight would take me from Chicago's O'Hara International Airport to Belfast International Airport. Because I was only thirteen, I had to wear a special name tag. In big bold black letters my name PATTY O'SHEA was plastered on the ugly white tacky paper. I felt like a baby.
I finally arrived in Belfast, I thought I never would. My gram lived in the historical city of Londonderry in the North West part, about 1 hour from Belfast. I had to take the bus. I paid my fare.
“Welcome aboard Patty O'Shea,” the bus driver said with a thick brogue.
I couldn't figure out how he knew my name. He pointed to the hideous name tag I forgot about.
The Irish countryside was magnificent, breathtaking. I couldn't
believe I was actually in Ireland,the birthplace of my parents,of my
I remember the stories my parent's would tell me about growing up in Northern Ireland. They told me they were blessed to have been born in a beautiful country, full of rich history, but also sometimes violent and unsafe. They immigrated to America about two years before I was born, for a better life. Gram wouldn't come with them. She said, “I was born in Ireland and I'm going to die in Ireland. I'm an
Irishman and Ireland is my homeland.”
I couldn't wait to finally meet her. It was the day before Saint Patrick's Day, the day before my birthday. I happened to be born on March 17th and Gram said it was a sign from Saint Patrick himself.
I didn't believe in “miracles”, but if Gram said so, it must be so.
I finally arrived in Londonderry, the town of “Derry” is what the inhabitants call the town. It is a historically beautiful town.
When I arrived the people were getting ready for the huge Saint
Patrick's Day celebration. My cousin Declan was at the bus station to meet me. He had a gigantic sign with my name written on it.I was so embarrassed.
“Patty O'Shea?” I could barley understand him.
Declan didn't drive, he was only 15, so we had to walk to Gram's, luggage in tow. I made Declan carry my luggage.
Gram was waiting when we arrived at her cottage. It was small, but quaint.
Aroma's of bacon and cabbage waifed passed my nose, making my mouth water.
Gram greeted me with hugs and kisses. I couldn't believe how much I looked like her.
“Me dear Patty”, she hugged me again. “Me prayers have been answered. Blessed Saint Patrick has answered me prayers and sent you to visit ye Gram.” She was crying.
I unpacked,we ate, we talked, we slept. The next day was Saint Patrick's Day, a big day for me. It was the day I became a teenager.
We got up before the crack of dawn, ate an “Irish” breakfast of Black and White pudding,eggs and tomatoes,with toast and tea. It was delicious. I'd never had Black and White pudding, which is actually pork.
We got dressed, Gram insisted I wear a “traditional Irish dress ”Gram said I was a beautiful lass. We left for the festivities in town. I had a great time.
Gram didn't want to stay long, she tired easily. When we got back she made me an Irish chocolate cake.
I didn't get a birthday present,instead she told me a beautiful story of the miracle on Saint Patrick's Day.
She pulled the bible from her cedar chest and let me touch it. She said Patty before you were born I prayed to Saint Patrick for a miracle and he answered my prayers.
She opened the bible and inside was written her prayer.
"Blessed Saint Patrick,
I write me prayer down in me bible so only ye
and the Lord know what I prayer for.
I am getting to be an old woman and I
pray that ye see fit to bless me with
a granddaughter. A Saint Patrick Day miracle."
You see me dear child, me prayer was answered.You were a blessing to ye parents but ye were a miracle for me.
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