No, I am not talking about the band. Though, if I were referring to Green Day the rock band I’m sure my husband would have something to say about how the trio is underrated. Today is March 17th, so I am talking about none other than St. Patrick’s Day!
Frankly, I know very little about this holiday other than what I quickly read on Wikipedia before writing this post. I don’t really care to elaborate on its origins; what makes the day special for me is that it was Ro’s favorite holiday. The man loved Jesus, but Christmas and Easter didn’t unearth nearly as many dollar-store items in our household as St. Patrick’s Day did. Ro owned no “Kiss me, Jesus is Risen!” buttons, but Lord knows on March 17th the “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” button was pinned to his black and green plaid cardigan at the top o’ the morn’!
To date, Ro is the only person I’ve known who, on St. Paddy’s Day, would receive as many store-bought cards and incoming phone calls as he would for a birthday. He was not shy about his love for the day; if his words didn’t express it, then the Shamrock sticker on his Bible sure made it clear. One year he decorated the kitchen with green streamers cascading from the chandelier to the kitchen walls like the spokes of a wheel. This was a day to be celebrated!
The leprechaun cut-outs Ro hung around the house were cute too, but to have a day where you are practically obligated to drink a stein of beer – I believe this cuts to the core of his Paddy’s Day passion. Ro grew up in a Nazerene church where things like dancing, playing cards, and drinking alcohol were pooh-poohed, yet out of this strict upbringing grew a man who loved to have a glass of wine or a tall, stout beer with his blazing hot shephard’s pie – just a glass or two at a meal to give his lips a refreshing blast of heaven. We rarely had any alcohol in the house as I grew up, so any chance for him to have a drink was a treat.
St. Patrick’s Day, 2001, Brian and Ro went for a midday green beer. I was at my parents’ house when the phone rang – another Happy St. Patrick’s Day call for Ro. It was his sister, my Aunt Virginia. Ro had such a sweet, close relationship with his sister. I also adored and loved her. I don’t recall ever meeting her in person, but before she became too weak to use a typewriter she and I were Pen Pals. She would send the most sincere, thoughtful notes to encourage me, pray for me, and tell me stories of her life. Sadly, she passed away last year, the summer before Ro did.
On this particular day, Aunt Virginia and I exchanged a couple updates with each other. I knew she wanted to talk to Ro, but I explained to her, “He’s out drinking green beer with Brian.” She laughed. I laughed. But later that day I learned that we were laughing for different reasons. She laughed because she thought I was making a joke. I laughed because I was thinking oh, that Ro and his green beer.
What I didn’t know until after the phone call was that Aunt Virginia never knew that Ro consumed alcoholic beverages, let alone that he had an acquired taste for them. A devout Christian and product of the Nazarene church herself, she adhered to the no-drinking rule and assumed that her brother did as well. I know heaven doesn’t look back at Earth or celebrate our holidays or resemble life as we know it, but I still find myself creating a story in my head of Ro and Aunt Virginia together. Ro is chuckling with a Paddy’s Day beer in hand as his sister discovers this little secret of his, and then starts to make sense of that phone call I had with her eight years ago. Of course my little fantasy is so irrelevant for them now, for as much as Ro loved to celebrate this day, there is no holiday or event on this Earth that can come close to matching the celebration that they know now and will experience for eternity.
Thinking of you today, Ro!