It is 25 Days Until Christmas …
It is 25 Days Until Christmas …
For 25 days, I will be writing about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by.
I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis for 29 years; it has made me a better person, more empathetic; a better writer, more versed in the colors, tastes, scents, vibrations and texture of struggles in the world; and more understanding that the greatness of a man can nearly always be measured by his willingness to be kind. Doors close so windows will be opened.
I always decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving – some thing poetic and right about the timing and how Thanksgiving blends into Christmas in a season so blurred, timelines and propriety no longer hold sway. It is still very special to me. Tradition! But this year, I am a’ scramblin to finish my next book.
Music has always fascinated me, captivated me. I cannot hear well, so the words are often missed, or misinterpreted. I have gotten lost in them more times than my quiet little world can hold.
I am so grateful for the internet, and being able to find those lyrics and the stories behind them, so easily now. My first book was all about the people who made the music that defined a people. This new book, called “99 Years From Freedom”, is all about the songs I and many of the Irish Diaspora all around the world, grew up with – where they came from, who wrote them, why they wrote them, and therefore, what they really mean.
These are the songs of Irelands strike for freedom, starting in 1798, thru the rest of that, and the next three centuries. Really though, it focuses on the 1916 Rising, Ireland first successful, though diluted effort; the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising will be commemorated the World over in 2016.
On Friday, instead of pulling the lights and the smashed ornaments and smashed Dickens Village memories, I ran errands to get them out of the way, and got the bread made and the tea going for a monster write out. Butt on couch at 11;45 am, I stopped at 9:45 pm., and BREATHED …
Ten months of “as I could” writing, is wrapping up. I started to write with purpose about ten years ago. I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, first diagnosed when I was 19 years old (I turned 49 last week), but that didn’t open the writing door. Almost 11 years ago, I cracked vertebrae in my back and herniated each and every disc when I was swept off my feet, and came down on my spine, on the ice. Shiver me timbers indeed!
I worked, and worked; long hours at KeyBank in their Operations Center at 2025 Ontario, trying to find my way upward. I couldn’t wrap my strength around the vise grip that went hip to hip, a hot iron across my back, rusting through at the core. Eventually, I had to stop working. For 3 ½ years I spiraled downward, until, I stopped.
Requested to write Memorials, a few poems and other such requests, were the only writing I had done up to that point. Then, as three years without work passed, I had to find a way to make money. I had bottomed out, but my body was so wracked, I never knew how the next day would be, if I would even be able to stand. The RA jumped in every once in a while; just to let me know I was not alone. I got divorced, and in long, searching hours, I started to write.
I don’t think I have ever really stopped writing, and moving, since. This will be my 4th book. The December issue out Thursday will mark my eighth year as CoFounder, Publisher and Editor of the Ohio Irish American News. I am so blessed to find a way out of the abyss. Many do not.
Thanksgiving sharpens the need to say Thanks, to live in the moment, and revel in the 5 senses tingling in your brain. At the Sheriff’s Office, we call it Situational Awareness – Living in the Present – appreciate it, mark it, don’t get lost looking back, and love those who made it possible. December 18th will be my 8th Anniversary with the SO.
I don’t have many memories, a score and nine of meds have stripped them from my mind; I traded total recall for less simmering joints. I frequently set up and pull triggers that can coax more recent memories; I have learned to purchase the forces that squeeze the trigger.
I resolved to replace the smashed Dicken’s Village pieces, but can’t find them any more. I would if I could, replace them. The smashed ornaments can’t be duplicated, but every place I travel, I grab one special to that place, and I add it to my tree, and to the memory reminders all the anti-inflammation meds have inflamed, and stolen from me. The ornaments are a memory trigger usually sparking a smile and a 2nd trip to where I went before.
Researching 99 Years, learning, has been such a joy to me, much like those Dickens Village and ornaments are and used to be; I can’t wait to share this book with you too.
There have been so many ‘Ah Ha” moments and fascinating stories that I will recount in the book. The stories spark new strength, new bricks in my village wall. I am still determined to replace the Dickens Village too, some how, some day. The Tree is up; the new ornaments look smashing!
It is 25 Days Until Christmas … A Very Merry Christmas it will be with the 25 members of my family. My folks, my three sisters and I grew up with no relatives in the U.S. – Dad is from Co. Roscommon, Ireland; Mom from Montreal. But now, there are 25 of us: Mom & Dad; Noreen & Mike, Caitie, Tommy, Brian, John, Will, Michael, Annie, Caroline; Cathy & John, Maura, Kathleen, Jack, Declan; Trish & Phillip, Maria, Tony, Phillip, Eileen, Neal. I must write to understand. I hope you understand.
“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know;
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