St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He is often credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland and bringing Christianity to Ireland. Note: According to at least one article, there weren’t any snakes in Ireland – so his act may not be all that impressive. Nonetheless, today, March 17, is the day the Irish (and many who claim to be Irish, wish they were Irish, know an Irish person, or hope someday to go to Ireland) celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. While it was originally a religious feast, it has become secular celebration founded by Irish immigrants in America. Simply put, it’s a big deal and it is a big party.

People all over American celebrate this day. There are parades, green beer, green rivers, and lots of fun. My mom was 1/2 Irish and raised Catholic. She loved St. Patrick’s Day and she loved a big party.

Do you know why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today? Why March 17? Was he born on this day? No. Is this the day he introduced Christianity to Ireland? No. Is this the day he drove the snakes out? No. We celebrate this day because it is believed he died on March 17, 461.

I’m not a huge fan of this day. It is a day I will never forget. I was headed out to work when the phone rang (this was back in the days when people had landlines). My wife answered the phone. She quickly made eye contact, mumbled some words into the phone, and held up her hand indicating I needed to stop. Being the ever obedient husband, I stopped. A blank look came over her face. I asked who was on the phone. She said, “It was the nursing home. She said your mom isn’t doing well and you should get there soon.”

My mother had been in the nursing home for a couple of weeks. She was recovering from surgery to repair a broken hip. Additionally, she had Parkinson’s Disease. She was no longer the smiling and engeretic person she once was. For 13 years, Parkinson’s Disease had ravaged her body and her mind. We knew the end was near.

I drove quickly to the nursing home. When I walked into her room, I immediately noticed what she was wearing. She wore a very bright multicolored sweater. If you knew my mother, this sweater matched her personality perfectly. My mom had picked the sweater to wear. It was the perfect sweater for her to wear to big party. I think she knew.

Also in the room was a nurse. The nurse said my mom was having problems breathing. My mom was laying in her bed. I sat down next to her. I held her hand and let her know I was there. And then, it happened. All the stress and tension that Parkinson’s Disease had put in her body went away. My mom’s Parkinson’s mask disappeared. She was so peaceful and relaxed. I had not seen her that way in years. I felt a warm rush of calm serentiy fill the room. But then it hit me, my mother had passed away. She was gone and just like St. Patrick, it was March 17.

I kept the sweater and found it again the other day. It reminded me of what a bright star my mom was. It is pictured in this post. So as you celebrate your Irish heritage today, raise a glass to honor my mother, raise a glass to honor your mother, and raise a glass to honor St. Patrick.

Happy New Year

I hope you don’t mind that I took a 10-day hiatus from blogging. Sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes you need a break. Both apply in this case.

In previous posts, I talked about the importance of why and focus. To change your life, you need to have a very strong why. It isn’t enough to want to do something. You must know why.

Why did I want to lose weight? I wanted to lose weight for many reasons. I wanted to be healthier (i.e. reduce health risks), to have more energy and vitality, and to be alive long enough to see my grandchildren graduate from high school and hopefully get married.

So why am I writing about why again? Many already know that my brother had some significant health issues recently. Many know he is a person with a developmental disability and is vulnerable. Last week, he was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of “failure to thrive.” This is a fancy way of saying he wasn’t eating enough. The hospital took good care of him and he is no longer failing to thrive. We still don’t know why he stopped eating but he is on the mend.

There were moments in the hospital when it was unclear what the outcome would be. It forced me to ponder mortality. I reflected on his mortality and my own mortality. This process reminded me of and reinforced my why.

So as a reminder to all, if you want to change, get a powerful why. It will help in the moments where you are tempted to give up. This past week, I was reminded why I am trying to live a healthier life. Have a great day and don’t forget to drink enough water!

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