[This year I wore her teapot earrings, since they go so well with my bright green sweater!]
Nonetheless, we had all sorts of fun at school on St. Patrick's day (and yes, we were always on the lookout for Leprechauns and their pot of gold (though mostly we were interested in candy)). We would have green snacks and build traps for them, placing gold beads inside, or gold candies, or spray-painted gold rocks, and concocting all manner of tricky devices to trip them up. And it was all so shiny :) and so much fun.
I remember watching the movie "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" at home with my sibs. Often we would go to the Knights of Columbus St. Patty's dinner and eat corned beef and potatoes and cabbage and have vanilla cake for dessert with delicious shamrock-shaped candies on top! So many tasty memories of those. I remember bargaining for the candies with my parents and oldest siblings (Beth and Viv were too smart to part with theirs).
By high school, and later college, St. Patrick's day lost some of its luster from childhood. It wasn't that I disliked it, but I didn't make traps anymore :) and I didn't bargain for candy shamrocks either. But, I also didn't go out drinking (even when I was old enough) and generally let the day (which was invariably during Lent) pass by without much pomp or circumstance.
And again, St. Patrick's day is changed for my family. Momma's funeral was on March 17 last year, and we spent the day very differently than other years together. Although the viewing the day before was hard on me (seeing my mother's body laid out, wearing make-up, stiff, and cold--it wasn't her anymore and I knew it), the funeral in many ways was harder, but (as there is always grace in sorrow) it was also very good. [Here is the homily from the funeral.]
The saddest part for me was when she was lowered into her grave. It seemed so final. So ultimate. I will never see her body again in this world. That is hard.
But life is never without humor or joy :) While Momma was descending, Michael went over to look down and almost lost his gum (that wouldn't have made Momma happy, who spent much of her time as a teacher telling her students to spit their gum out in the trash can). Also, look at Daddy's face. Know what he's thinking? "Gosh, that's a deep hole!" :)
And so, here we are at the anniversary. There is still sadness, but even reading through the homily again, and remembering all the events of these recent years, I am not sorrowful. There is joy behind the tears and I am able to smile, despite the mist in my eyes. Not all tears are an evil. And when I think of Momma, especially, I am often reminded of a line from the Return of the King, as Frodo sails to Valinor:
And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West until at last on a night of rain, Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And it seemed to him that...the gray rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.