Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Good day to all the lads and lassies at your various homes, and domiciles,

"Top o' the morning to ya (and your reply, me darling ones, "and the balance of the day to you".

We are all back to normal, as normal as I can be, in any event. We are awash in the mighty joy of living in this most favoured of places.I am reminded of my sainted grandmothers, one Norwegian, and one the Irish Catholic Queen of the Nerney clan, formerly of Ireland, and forever in my heart.

She was to have twelve children, and I was blessed to be one of her grandchildren. It is a matter of pride for me that she is my grandmother, on my father's side, and I am honored to be Mabel Irene Quam Green's grandson on my mother's side.

Nana (Helen Margaret O'Shea Nerney) was the matriarch of her family, and she lives in all of our hearts. Irish Catholic and then some, and always smiling, and always willing and able to play the piano. She played it at her 90th birthday party at the recreation hall in Millbrae, and she played it at her 102nd birthday party at TLC in Felton California, and she played it at the ranch house at p.o.box 2805 in Ben Lomond, California (I don't remember the street address, but the mail box on Alba Road was 2.805 miles up Alba Road and that was what I saw when I would drive onto the ranch property).

When she was born it was in New York City, and she worked for a magazine. The name of it and her title I do not recall. She was married to Officer James Clare Nerney (of the New York police department) at the age of 20, and James was 31 years old. He lived until 1955 and I was at his bedside within the last two weeks of his life on the ranch property, and I recall saying goodbye. That is my only memory of him, and then I was to bask in the glow of my love for Nana until her passing in 1989 (her age of 104 years casting a huge shadow over my life).

I would visit dad and she and I would sit at the old table in the kitchen when dad was at work, and she and I would talk. Some of my most treasured memories are of her at that table learning about her life, and her joy of life was just wonderful. We would watch the Lawrence Welk Show and she would sit at the old piano in the living room, and play the music by ear that we had been listening to. She always loved to play lively music, and she always loved to sit and talk. My friends came up and were enchanted by her. Steve and his friends would come up and me and my buddies, and she would cook us dinner, and occasionally dad would be the cook. We all enjoyed spending time with her. I have had many family members die on me through the years, and my father's brothers were among them. Jim, and Jack and Allen, and Fred, were the uncles that I spent the most time with. Especially Jim (named for his father, also sharing the same middle name) and I spent time together in Millbrae at he and his wife Viola's house on Landing Lane.

Jim and I would sit in his den and he would play his 78's with his favorite jazz musicians, and big band music, and I would talk to him of the old days. Jim and I would talk of Nana, and we would talk of Steve and my sisters, and I would discuss the Post Office (Jim had worked at the Post Office, and his father was also a former postal employee). We talked of the civil service and how it was a great job to have during the Great Depression. Jim and his brother Jack both wore the map of Ireland on their faces, and they were great story tellers. Dad told me of how Jim's job in the depression helped several families, and that Jim and Vi had been very generous with those in the family who had had especially hard times during that era.

I have never been to Ireland, but Jack and Jim went, as well as Dennis Michael Nerney, and Jack's older daughter Susan. They brought back photographs of the "old sod" and they told me stories of their travels.

I would like someday to be there in the land of my ancestors and trod upon that green land. The "troubles" are mainly behind, a thing of the past, though now and then a policeman, or a soldier will lose his life. For their families the "troubles" are today, and last week. The world knows not of what it means to be Irish. I have these shining examples of Irish Catholic nobility in my family. I am the black sheep, a "Protestant" and they sometimes cast their eyes as they roll them at me. Still and all they talk politely to my face, and as to what they say behind my back, I have no knowledge.

Actually the Nerney's and the Stack's, and the Roger's, and all the others that count themselves among the children, and grandchildren and great grandchildren of Helen Margaret O'shea have a love for all of her descendants. She was a fine, fine, woman, and a great story teller and my heart will always be filled with her and her children.

So, the old Irish toast I raise, "May the Good Lord take a liking to you, may the road always rise to meet your feet, and may the devil not know your dead for at least a fortnight, upon your passing".

Hear, hear, and pass the Guinness,

Love and hugs, and begosh and begorrah,


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