Becoming Irish

December 12, 2012

Today I finally, fiiiinally began the process of becoming Irish.

12 years ago I studied abroad in Italy. Not only did I gain a broadened world perspective and a love for the Italian language and all things Italy, but I met one of my best friends, Katy, who was also from California. Once the two of us returned to Los Angeles after our semester abroad, we began to dream of ways we could return to live in Europe. She was a lucky duck and had close family members born in Italy, so she was eligible for Italian citizenship. I had no inroads to Italy, but my father had been born in Dublin in the 40s before being adopted by American parents, so I discovered I could get an Irish passport. With the European Union’s flexible borders, it was just as good.

But for some reason, I’ve never followed through on beginning the process. I suppose part of me was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find the missing document necessary for the process, my father’s original birth certificate, and my dream of EU citizenship would be dashed. And perhaps another part of me was afraid of dwelling in the dark and shadowy recesses of the past.

Going through this process is bringing up some deep emotions, old family and ancestral pain. Just looking at my father’s pitifully sad passport photo, issued when he was four so he could come to California, makes my eyes well up with tears. He’s small and pale, his brow furrowed over sad, scared eyes, little mouth frowning. It looks like he’s dressed in a potato sack. When the photo was taken he’d already spent the first four years of his life at the horrific Catholic orphanages during the 40s, where beatings, rape and emotional abuse of children were standard. I can only imagine the abuse he went through that led him to being the angry alcoholic he grew into.

I looked just like him when I was young. I was a bright, precocious, strong-willed, talkative child, and I imagine he was too. Which I’m guessing made him a target for abuse. I got in trouble enough in normal public school in California, and I imagine he didn’t keep a low profile.

My father died almost a year ago, alone, drinking himself to death in a motel in Arizona. I asked him once if he ever wanted to go back to Ireland. “Why would I want to go back to that hell hole?” he snarled. End of conversation.

I haven’t been to Ireland yet. But I’ve always longed to live in green places, which I like to think is some kind of ancestral echo programmed into my DNA. My father’s ashes are still in California; I haven’t been back in the country since his death. Perhaps once I have my citizenship I can take some of his ashes back to Ireland with me, and release the fear and pain that still radiate from the past.

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But then I remember Maya. Maya Lila. These lives we’ve lived, these rolls we’ve played, are all just part of the illusion, the game of forgetting we are infinite, divine, creative cosmic consciousness. I do believe this, I just don’t always remember. Part of the game is healing these wounds we incur while playing human. So this is the game I’m playing this lifetime. Seeking healing, wholeness, and joy. I’m making good progress.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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7 Responses to “Becoming Irish”

  1. Mike g said

    I remember your Dad. He was a good man, he had a good heart, and loved you very much under his rough exterior. And he gave me URL, who lived for a looong time! Dredging up the past can be hard, but it dies help heal old wounds…best of luck on your journey.

  2. Mike g said

    Does not dies!

  3. Dale L. said

    So, while reading your blog entry this morning over coffee I got to the part where you mentioned that your father had died about a year ago and I thought to myself “Wait, did I know that?” So I clicked back and realized that I would DEFINITELY have remembered reading that entry. Very moving.

    I knew most of the pieces of that story, except of course the part about his death, but I also didn’t know about the Irish part and the orphanage part. (“Perry” duh!) I can only imagine what went on there and about how that cruel horror ended up affecting the lives of so many other innocent people, not the least of which, his own. And I can see why he couldn’t/wouldn’t go back.

    But that doesn’t mean that YOU can’t go back. Maybe in some way you’re helping him reconcile with his past and overcome that alienation when that was something that he wasn’t able to do on his own.

    Good luck with the process!

  4. China Brooks said

    Wonderful article! I felt the same way the other day at Runyon. My Grandmother was very afraid of heights. My Mother thinks I inherited that from her. When I hiked west ridge, part of me did it for her. In honor of our family. Because, they did the best they could with the consciousness they had. Every generation expands more than the last.

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