Lucky EnoughWritten by Carol Rice
I'm LUCKY enough... are you? Along with almost 40 million other Americans, I consider myself LUCKY to have Irish ancestors. One of my Irish ancestors, in particular, became very important to me at the age of 18.
I had moved away from home for the very first time. All the way from Utah to Idaho - a whole state away. I wasn't worried though, I was brave. Or so I thought. After the excitement of the first few nights wore off I was ready to go home and sleep in my own bed. I was ready to have Mom make me some dinner- all I'd done is kind of snack on stuff in my kitchen. I was ready to get a big, warm hug and have someone ask about my day.
I worked up the nerve and swallowed enough pride to let my mom know how I was feeling. It wasn't long after that that she and a friend of hers decided they wanted to make a road trip - to Idaho. My mom arrived with a big, warm hug, made me dinner and asked me how everything was going. Then, as we sat there on my dorm room “cot,” she told me a story.
I'd heard the story before but it had never meant so much. She told me about a young girl who lived in Ireland and lost her mom when she was about 12 years old. She was a good girl and took care of her little brothers so her dad could still provide for them. She kept house, she made meals, knew her place in her home and was happy with it. But a few years later when her dad remarried she didn't know her place as well anymore. She missed her mom more than ever and was invited by an aunt to go to America. So at the young age of 16, she packed up her courage, and utterly alone, got on a boat. As she waved goodbye to her home in Ireland - she knew she would never return to the land and family she loved.
I hugged my mom and thanked her. All of a sudden things didn't seem so bad compared to what my great-grandmother had done. Her blood ran through me and her story reached out to me like a lifeline- if she could move a world away, I could handle one state. After that Mom pulled out a little package. Inside was a doll dressed in a little red, wool tartan and carrying a bag with a luggage tag that said, “To America, From Ireland.”
I love that doll - to this day it is still a reminder that I can do hard things. It's also a reminder that I'm lucky enough to have an Irish ancestor named Jenny, who knew she could do hard things as well.
I grew up in a home rich with family heritage. My mom loved genealogy and knew how to breathe life into dusty documents and color to faded black and white photos - my mom told me stories.
As a grown woman with five children of my own, I've tried to do the same. For years I did it through scrapbooking. But it didn't take long to realize that it wasn't my artistic skills my children really cared about. They never stopped on a page and said, "Mom, you matched that paper to my shirt - perfectly!" Nope. What they did say as they leaned across my lap, pointing at photos is, "Tell me the story!" "Tell me mom about the day I was born... Tell me mom about the day I cried when everyone sang me happy birthday... Tell me mom about my grandma and her garden..."
Don't worry if you haven't done it forever, just start today. The consistency and cumulative effect of one good question - just sharing one story a day, adds up.
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