Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Like most Americans, I’m a mutt. My biological ancestors came from various parts of Europe. Through oral tradition, my maternal grandmother could recite the family tree all the way back to 18th century America. She bequeathed the family Bible to my mother along with bits and pieces of legal and anecdotal records. From eastern Kentucky, she claimed that we had descended from Daniel Boone, which I always doubted, because, apparently, everyone in Kentucky claims to be descended from the man in the coonskin cap. She also said that her grandfather, Francis “Frank” Daugherty (alternately spelled “Doherty” and “Dougherty” and pronounced “darty”), had emigrated from Ireland. Francis passed along that his mother was Maggie Hegarty, a name he bestowed on my great-grandmother. My grandmother named my mother “Maggie” after her.
Now, my mother will tell you that she despises her name because, according to her, it sounds like the name of a “washer woman” or laundress. I realize that the Irish (as with my paternal Italian forebears) were held in low esteem in the 19th and early 20th century. So, too, were my mother’s ancestors in the hills of Appalachia. You’ve seen “The Beverly Hillbillies”, right? Therefore, using the system of reasoning that I did not comprehend in 10th grade geometry, does it make sense that she gave me “Maggie” as my middle name? “Suzanne Maggie” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. It has neither an “Anglo-Saxon” nor Gallic (“Suzanne” is French for “Susannah”) ring to it. At any rate, I am Maggie times four. At least. Who knows how many are buried on the ould sod?
Worse yet, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in all its green glory. I learned in my Catholic catechism class that green represented the Catholic Irish who rebelled against the evil English government, which was “protestant.” My Mother was confirmed in a Lutheran church (can’t be more protestant than Martin Luther), when her family moved to Detroit, but I never knew them to belong to a church of any denomination. I was a little ashamed to be descended from those quarrelsome protestant Irish, so I wore neither green nor orange.
About 20 years ago, on a trip to a conference in Nashville, My Mother and I stopped in the tiny Appalachian town where she was born. On this trip to Kentucky, we visited with every surviving relative that she knew. One of them, my grandmother’s first cousin, had a house full of Catholic artifacts that she had rescued from the local Catholic church when it was closed. Why? Because she was Catholic! “Was her late husband Catholic?” I asked. “Oh, no,” she replied and explained her family’s religious affiliation. Apparently, the sons of my great-great-grandfather Frank had remained Catholic. The daughters, who married protestant men, became protestants. Faith and begorrah!
In the 19th century, Catholic priests rarely visited the isolated community, until it grew enough to raise up a Catholic parish. Francis married a local girl (Marticia Cole — and that name’s a story for another day) from a protestant family, and their daughter, Maggie Daugherty, married William Tincher, a protestant of Irish origins stretching back into the 17th century in the colonies. My grandmother married a “Begley,” also an Irish name but a protestant family. Were they ever Catholic? Who knows? My Mother the Lutheran married My Dad the Italian Catholic, and now I, their daughter, who was raised a Catholic, is an Episcopalian (technically, a reformed Catholic, not a protestant). I guess I can wear whatever the hell I want to. Talk about mutts…
Thanks to Ancestry.com, I have been able to corroborate my grandmother’s anecdotal information on her family’s history. Other than her grandfather, all of the family with Irish surnames who emigrated to the colonies were born in England. The rest of the hardy souls had English names. Among them, Ancestry also corroborated that we do descend directly from Daniel Boone through his youngest daughter, Levina, not once, but twice, which would be kind of incestuous if the generations weren’t spread out so far. Yet another story for another day.
Today, I’ll be Irish. After all, St. Patrick was a mutt himself. He was born in what was probably modern-day Scotland to British parents, who were Roman citizens, and kidnapped by Irish pirates into slavery and taken to Ireland.
Because I’m a mutt, I prefer my corned beef on rye, Champagne to Guinness, and garlic toast to soda bread. I will salute the sainted Padraig with a verse from the prayer attributed to him, St. Patrick’s Breastplate:
I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.
I’m on vacation this week and experienced almost three days without wifi. Horrors! When I was able to reconnect, I was met with the usual scammers. Maybe it’s the sun. Maybe it’s the rum. Maybe it’s the companionship of old friends and the safety of being several thousand miles from home, but I decided to confront the scammers.
I received an email from someone who had obviously stolen a well-written profile. He/she (because who knows who’s behind this stuff) wrote an ungrammatical email. I thought I would be helpful and responded:
“Helpful hint: When stealing a person’s photo and profile, it would be a good idea to write in the grammatical style of the original profile, if you wish to be successful at scamming.”
I’ve had no reply.
A 62-year old legitimate prospect emailed me, questioning what he called my “diatribe” about grammar and spelling, which I’ve included in my profile. I replied, explaining that I receive emails from 3-5 scammers each day and was hoping to weed them out. He responded that he hears occasionally from 20-30 year old women but had not heard from any scammers. I’m sure you join me in my amusement that a 62-year old man with a full white beard thinks that 20-30 year old women aren’t scammers.
I had a guy, without a profile photo, IM me. Bored, I asked him why he didn’t have a photo. He gave me the typical, grammatically garbled explanation about not knowing how to upload photos. I told him to go away and stop wasting my time. I wanted to say, “If you aren’t smart enough to figure out how to upload a photo, you aren’t smart enough to date me.”
Finally, I had a delusional moment. THE sweetest 41-year old man emailed me,
“What does a stunning woman need with a dating site? I can’t imagine you have difficulty meeting someone. In fact, I’d assume you have suitors lined up for miles waiting for their opportunity to approach you.”
After I picked myself up off the floor, I wrote back,
“Assuming that you are serious, I’m going to respond to one of the few real emails that I have received in almost eight months of online dating… currently, there are no available attractive, intelligent, sophisticated gentlemen in my age bracket within a 50 mile radius of Baltimore (consider that includes DC, Frederick, the Eastern Shore, southern PA, and Wilmington). Well, apparently, there are a few, but they all want women who are considerably younger than I. The ones who are 50-70 and look like my grandfather want someone 35-45…”
His adorable reply,
“Yes, I am sincere and I’m sorry that you’ve had nothing but disappointment and despair with online dating. Yes, sadly, there are a lot of people online who are fakes or just looking for sex but they don’t make up the majority.
If there are none of those types of men in your age bracket, then I suggest opening up your age range to someone much younger than yourself. There are many like me who are seeking a mature woman for dating and not for the cliche reasons: sex, money, etc.”
Well, my goodness gracious, pass this old lady the smelling salts! If things don’t pick up here, I may expand that age bracket to 40-60. I just might be a cougar, after all. Bring on the tight leopard-print capris! The false eyelashes! The platform heels! (No, wait, that’s how I broke my patella three years ago.)
OMG! Could I really date someone young enough to be my son? Even I am not that delusional. Maybe I could fix him up with The Daughter…So, who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!