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Irish Storytellers

Feb 18 2010


Once upon a time (I know all good stories start this way because I've recently learned a lot about story tellers), there were people in Ireland who made their livlihood from telling the stories of Ireland. They were a think of folklore, and as far as I know the last one died in 1966, passing on his entire collection of stories to a Ronin O'Mara of Kilkenny Ireland. Until the year of 1966, Ronin did not know that the old man he had been obsessed with finding for most of his life was in fact his own Grandfather. The secrets of his family ran deep, but certain things in the family were certainly hereditary.

Ronin remembered his father telling stories about the vagabonds who made their way through life trading their stories and glimpses of history for food and lodging. They were seen as legendary, and back before Ireland had grown accustomed to the Television, this was often how families and neighborhoods would entertain themselves. The story tellers would travel from town to town and would meet people, gather their stories, share stories from the places they had visited, and people would gather around and listen. His father had described the last story teller in Ireland for Ronin, telling him the man would likely be tall, wear a long coat and a hat, and have gray whispy hair. Ronin's father knew who the old man was but could never tell for fear of the shaded family history coming to light. In those days, things would be seen differently. Ronin never knew who the man was he so desperately wanted to find until it was too late. But because Ronin had become so obsessed with the story teller in his youth, he collected his stories and gathered a notebook of tales to share with others about the amazing history of their nation. That was certainly hereditary. Jon, the story teller, had such a great love of his country that he shared it everywhere he went. Ronin ended up getting a PhD in History and is a Professor in a university in Ireland now, teaching the stories and tales that his Grandfather once traded for a meal and a bed roll for the night. The passion for History was passed on even before Ronin knew who the man was.

My parents and I haven't talked since September 21st of last year. I called for my mothers birthday. That was the last phone contact I've had with them and I don't see that changing anytime soon. It wasn't an unpleasant conversation, but it was unnatural and superficial. Everyone talked like everything was fine, all was perfect and pleasant. They never called me again. I've not called them again. For a while it hurt, as it always does when they decide they're angry at me and don't tell me why, but it no longer hurts and I've grown weary of worrying about them the way I once did. It's just not that important to me anymore. It doesn't matter.

I know we've only ever talked through email, but like Ronin O'Mara and his Grandfather, I feel much more in common with you than I do with my own immediate family. I'm nothing like my mother or father. I'm nothing like their parents either, with the exception of what I recently learned about Grandma Iva. I've never skated down stairs in front of a library, I'll never be 5'11 like my mom's mother. I'll never push away my brother when he needs to be loved and accepted for being him, no matter what. I'll never have a daughter I alienate just because she's a little 'different' from the rest of the family. I will, however, always ALWAYS keep an open mind and a strong back bone. Because of what I inherited from the members of our family I have surived adversity better than I ever thought I would. Sometime I'll tell you that story too - but once more that would be better left for another time.

Certain things are hereditary. I believe my ability to survive was passed on from Grandma, now that I have learned so much more about her because of you. I also believe my ability to face my family and tell them that I am who I am and they're never going to change that was passed along from you. My ability to last this long on my own and to know that I'm better off without negative attitudes also comes from you. At least, I like to think so. The same blood runs in our veins. I am a part of you as you are a part of me. My red hair and blue eyes were passed along from who knows where, but the best parts of my survival instincts came from the best parts of my lineage.

Driving the Infinity - wishing I could again!
Today has been a day of reflection and memory for me, and delving into the recesses of my brain have helped me to answer a few questions about myself and my family that I had never put together before. I'm left with even more questions than when I started, and I know that most will remain unanswered. Still, I've been left with an unusual peace and stillness inside that I've not known in a while. It's like I've accomplished something important, like I found a piece of me I didn't know was there.

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