This morning's news from Ireland was especially difficult to absorb as it was not too long ago that I blogged about the Big Fat Gaelic Gartlans, and the closeness of our group, the first cousins, far and wide, spread across the world. This morning I learned that my eldest cousin, dear, dear Patrick Gartlan, had been killed in an accident. My cousin, Paul V. Gartlan skyped me and was the bearer of this heavy news.
Patrick was the leader. The eldest of the all the first cousins. I recall meeting him one summer day back in the late 70's, when he arrived at my parents' doorstep on Yolanda Avenue. He was a dashingly handsome man, with blond-ish hair, the same color as his mother, Sadee. I always felt a bit of kinship to Patrick, as I was the other blond in a sea of dark haired Gartlans.
Patrick was also a man of fine craic. He could tell a story better than most - a true Irish trait. He was hilarious with his stories, his affinity for our current President, (of course we did disagree on this point) and would marvel at getting my goat as he spoke of all things liberal - I believe he knew this was driving me mad. He loved vintage cars, loved his wife Diane, adored his daughters Meagan and Sara. He even got a chuckle out of one of the girls' friends, named Stu Pid. Yes, that really is the bloke's name. Stu Pid.
Patrick's daddy was my Uncle Maurice, who was the eldest of the last generation of Gartlans. Patrick had the stories. He had them all. If you had a question about the lineage of one of our family members, a quick ring to Patrick would get you the answer. He knew everything there is to know about anything. He was calm, gentle, kind, loving and most of all a Gartlan, through and through.
My last phone call to him, a few weeks ago, was met with a hearty laugh, and the usual, "Ah, well Jesus Christ, and even a Mary & Joseph". This seems to be a very interesting piece of the Gartlan colloquial expressions uttered from the mouths of Gartlans when we are surprised, shocked, jovial or just plain excited about anything. "Well Jesus Christ Mary & Joseph.. you don't say". Patrick's brother Brendan had slipped the pearly gates a few years back, and he often spoke of Brendan, and his gift of the great craic. I never was able to see the two brothers together...but I can only imagine that right about now, St Peter in heaven is having to settle the two boys down, so that all the angels can get some sleep.
So, on this day of great sadness, my eyes are full of tears, my heart is heavy, but I know that Patrick was a gift to our family, his memory will continue on with the stories the rest of us will tell, and that the leader of the Big Fat Gaelic Gartlans has left us only for a little while until we all meet again someday, for a pint and a shot of Jameson!
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
God's speed dear cousin, until we meet again. Love You, Ann Corry