|The newly married Mr. and Mrs. Farragher|
Greetings from Key West!
As you read this, my toes are in the sand and my bride is by my side as we celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss. With two college tuitions facing us and conflicting schedules too busy to comprehend, there is never a good time to get away from it all but we got away nonetheless.
Watching the tide roll in with a stunning sunset on its back while sipping a sugary bar drink puts you in a reflective mood, and I’ve come to the conclusion that certain parts of what makes me Irish have had to die over the years so that my marriage could live.
One of the things my family told me growing up was to “stick to your own kind.” That explained one disastrous date after another with nice enough young Irish American women pulled from the fertile yet boring stream of the church choir.
My tastes were more exotic and the heart wants what it wants, which caused considerable upset when I first brought home the Jewish woman I met at college who is currently sitting on the chaise lounge next to mine.
It wasn’t until my cousin Monsignor Frank said to my mother, “the Blessed Mother was a Jew, so what the heck are you so worried about?” did the resistance melt on our side. Everyone has gotten along famously ever since. (Note to self: buy Father Frank a pint of thanks at the bar during his 50th anniversary celebration of his priesthood next month.)
I heard a great quote recently: “Irish Alzheimer’s is defined as forgetting everything but the grudges.”
So true about our race, yet those among us in successful long term marriages and partnerships know that having your head hit the pillow heavy with a grudge produces a restless night’s sleep and a row that would wake the dead the next morning.
Letting the little things go keeps ugly big things from sprouting up. That’s not an Irish saying, it’s a Mike original!
If I had to pinpoint one myth that I could take to the bank all these years later, it would be the advice my Uncle John Rabbitte gave me while I slung my arm around my bride’s waist as I headed to the honeymoon suite: “You can be happy or you can be right, son. You cannot be both.”
My marriage isn’t perfect, but it is pretty amazing. On those times when it’s been less than amazing, it has been because I was so obsessed about being right about something.
The Irish saying “you can tell an Irishman but you can’t tell him much” made for some unnecessary cold shoulders around the house.
Well, I am as stubborn as any Irish American man out there, but I am clear that I am sitting on this beach instead of in some divorce court because I learned early on to listen more than I spoke. You know the Irish saying: “it’s often that a person’s mouth broke his nose!”
I made it through the first 20 years with no broken bones and in the case of my spouse, I borrow the Irish phrase “the older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune!” I’m looking forward to many more years of beautiful music!
Mike Farragher’s collection of essays about life and family can be found on www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com.