Would you like to hear a story?

It’s St. Patrick’s Day.  The Irish love to tell stories and I’m 1/2 Irish and my story involves a St. Patrick’s Day.  Also, my good, good friend Mary left a comment earlier that alluded to this story — it’s a good story and I hope I can do it justice.

At some point after my mother died, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  I am sure he had it long before the diagnosis – he was a stubborn man who did not go to the doctor willingly nor often.  So anyway, now he was a widower with Parkinson’s disease. This experience has taught me that men without women don’t do well.

He did manage to live a normal life for about five years, but then Parkinson’s began to take its toll.  He could no longer live in our family home in Pennsylvania on his own, but refused to move in with me here on Long Island.  So he settled into an assisted living facility in PA.  That lasted for about a year or so — he kept them on their toes by sneaking out to the bar across the street.  A full scale panic would be sounded and then someone would go over there to haul escort him home!  He was also very bad about taking the medications that would have possibly helped to slow the progression of his disease and ended up needing full time nursing care.  Up until this point, things were not terrible — he seemed happy enough and managed to keep himself in just enough trouble to make things interesting. 

Once he moved into a nursing home however, things went downhill fast.  At that point he came here to Long Island and I was able to visit every day.  The girls were in elementary school at the time and I could go up during the day.

Parkinson’s was winning the fight and Dad was often in the hospital with varied and major problems.  He received the Last Rites a number of times.

He died on St. Patrick’s Day six years ago.  It is difficult to say and maybe only those of you who have been through a loved one’s protracted illness will understand what I mean when I tell you his death was a relief.  I was glad that he was no longer suffering, but I was also glad to have my life back.

That night, after calling all the relatives, the funeral home and getting arrangements made, I called my girlfriend Mary.  She and I have been best buds since we were 10 year old.  Her father is also a stubborn old Irish guy.  On some level we understand these men – on other levels, we don’t.

We began toasting my Dad.

We toasted him for hours.

Hours and hours.

I have never been (nor ever will be again) that drunk in my life!

We stopped drinking only when Mary said she had to hang up to go get sick in the bathroom.

It was two in the morning.

Even in my alcoholic fog, I was worried about Mary.

I decided to call her back to make sure she was okay.

Her phone number is quite similar to my Aunt’s.

I heard my Aunt Kelley on the other line.

I realized that it was two in the morning, that my father had just passed away hours earlier and that my Aunt might be alarmed by a middle of the night phone call.  I didn’t want my Aunt to worry about me.

In my very best I’m-not-really-drunk voice I reassured her ,

Oh, it’s only Ann Elizabeth  Aunt Kel.  No – everything is fine, I’ve just been drinking.

Mary and I were the talk of the funeral that weekend!

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