…and Happy Birthday to Uncle Art, another of the voices in my head. He is not as frequent a visitor as some of the others, but I do hear him occasionally. Uncle Art gave me my first typewriter, back in the day when we still used them. I don’t know how he knew that I would end up writing, but I guess he did. He was the type of adult who actually listened to the answers when he asked a kid a question.
Growing up, I thought Uncle Art just didn’t like the color orange, because he would say “Hate orange.” It was years before I understood that the “Orange” had more political and religious connotations for the Irish. And yet, I still say it now and then, without even realizing it. My five-year-old niece Aria recently informed my mother that Auntie Tara doesn’t like orange. I’ve no memory of using that phrase to her but I guess those voices slip out even when I don’t know it.
Having been a religious brother, Uncle Art was, at least to me, the expert on religion in our family. Once on a trip to visit him in Boston, I refused a giant chocolate chip cookie, because I had given up cookies for Lent. “It doesn’t count when you’re traveling,” was his response. I took his word for it, even though I wasn’t sure a day trip to Boston counted as traveling. He would know, I guess…and the cookie was delicious.
The other, oft repeated, Uncle Art-ism that sticks out for me is that if a company has their name on something, “they expect you to take it.” This is why, somewhere packed away in a box, I have a place setting of Sheraton Tara silverware that he brought home for me from some trip or other. It’s become something of a running joke for some of us, pointing out things we could take because they expect that.
I think of Uncle Art most at St Patrick’s Day, because it is his birthday, and at Christmas, because he loved it so much. He would arrive at my Nana’s house on Christmas with presents for all, and still have us all to lunch at his house on the 26th, where we would find another pile of gifts under his tree. He was truly one of the most generous people I’ve ever known.
And not to forget the holiday itself, as Great Nana would say, it is always Saint Patrick’s Day and never Saint Patty’s. If you must shorten it, it’s Paddy’s. I will celebrate with a pint of Guinness and boiled dinner, with my brother’s “Gramps” playlist gracing us with Irish music. And despite the fact that green is not my color, I’m wearing a green t-shirt. After all, as Great Nana would say, “Green, green, you’re the queen.”