My grandfather came to this country when he was twelve years old from County Cork, Kildare in Ireland with five brothers and two sisters in tow. He was twelve years old. Despite an eighth grade education he found a trade, worked hard, prospered and made a whole life for himself.
He married a strong, loyal, capable German girl, a baker’s daughter with five sisters and two brothers from solid stock.
They’d have three sons and their firstborn, a daughter. They named her Ellen.
Family came first, tradition followed and love was omnipresent.
I adored my Papa, being one of ‘his dollies.’ He stood 6’2″ I had to crook my neck to look up. He had silver white hair and a gold tooth that sparkled when he grinned.
Sunday outings were our special time. I felt goosebumps alive to be riding with him in his shiny Cadillac with power windows.
He placed a green carnation corsage in the fridge on St. Patrick’s Day. One for me and one for his Irish baby girl, Ellen.
Without tradition, legacy, family, there would be lackluster stories to tell.
There would be no Black Irish girl falling hard for the larger than life, mesmerizing Italian man.
Their stories would paint mine with enough adventure and adjectives to fill blank pages and pages.
Legacy is a lofty word and weight to carry.
Pride, respect, honor are terms I inherited with no borders.
Storyteller, moments retold, stored and catalogued through cracked pictures that hang on the walls.