Paint me a memory
Of family gathered round
Dinner menu parties
Traditions set in stone
Paint me a memory
So bright, so clear
So true, that when
the last child has left
I’ll still remember you.
On Sunday, our family celebrated our annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. We have to do it on the weekend because it’s a huge gathering with John’s family coming in and my kids and mom as well. I spend the week before along with the kids pulling out what has become a rather extensive collection of Irish decorations and little by little our home goes from the winter doldrums to a study in yellow and bright green. I’ll say one thing, it’s cheerful.
The menu is set in stone. Grilled Cornish Hens with the famous and traditional Kelly family stuffing that is lovingly slaved over the day before. John is the grillmaster and mans not one but two grills in the backyard to accommodate the growing number of family that attends the event. The meal is rounded out with Cranberry-cherry sauce, (to die for) Green Beans with bacon slivers, (not diet food) Asparagus, and an assortment of desserts and beverages.
An entire day of fun, laughing, kids playing, adults talking and then complaining loudly about how full we are is a given. It’s been compared to Thanksgiving in the Spring and that is probably the most accurate definition for the day there is.
The day has more of a purpose behind it though then just seeing who can stuff the most miniature turkey-shaped hen down their tummy. The party is given in memory and in honor each year of Thomas Kelly, John’s father, who passed away the day before St. Patrick’s Day several years ago. It was the year I met John, in fact, only three weeks before I met him.
I feel like I know him.
A man so well loved that his family has kept him alive through stories, pictures, memories and celebrations day by day,month by month and every year at St. Patrick’s Day and at the St Patrick’s Day party. So much so, that walking through the party, it’s easy to feel his presence in the hearts and joy of everyone there. His grandchildren were little when his physical body left the earth. My children never actually met him. Yet all of them know the stories. All of them toast to him every year, in celebration of his life, his joy of being around his family, and his love of standing outside and cooking those hens on the grill year after year and putting together that meal that now we put on for each other.
Thomas Kelly was an artist. He painted watercolors. Many of which are hanging in each of our homes, delighting us daily with his everlasting beautiful art. But his paintings were not his greatest gift. His greatest art was in the strokes he painted with the memories.
Memories and traditions he created and gave to his family that are being carried on year after year. Memories that will keep him alive and loved until the last child is gone. I may not have met him in person. But I am forever grateful to know him.