God help thee, poor monkey. - Macbeth

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Bittersweet Week

Usually I don't write such personal posts, but this is a very emotional week for me. This post is not meant to be depressing but rather to honor some very important memories. Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, the first I've celebrated since my grandfather (pictured above with my little sister) died 6 months ago. St. Patty's Day was always one of his favorite holidays. He was very proud of his Irish heritage. Every year, he would hang the Irish flag on the garage door, and some years he would invite my family over for dinner to celebrate. Not only that, but the last time that I spoke to my grandpa on the phone before he died was when I called him from Irishfest in September. He had fallen ill and was in the hospital, so I thought a call from me would cheer him up, especially since my sister and I are the only two grandchildren who have taken any interest in Irish music and the like. That was the last time that I heard my grandpa's voice. He died the next weekend. I've been missing him a fair amount the past few months, as we were quite close (although I didn't realize how close until he was gone), but today I felt it more acutely than I have since his memorial service. St. Patrick's Day just isn't the same without him around.

The good news this week is that tomorrow is my nineteenth birthday, and my mom is coming to visit me. I haven't seen her since January, so I'm very excited to show her around the city and just spend some quality time with her. It's also my golden birthday, which I have been waiting for since I was old enough to know what a golden birthday was (although now that it's here, it seems a bit anticlimactic).

Unfortunately, tomorrow is also the 5th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. I am very strongly antiwar, and I always have been, and my fourteenth birthday was very nearly ruined when Bush announced on March 17th that he was giving Hussein two days to leave Iraq. I had predicted that our illustrious president would put off attacking Iraq until my birthday, but everyone told me I was being paranoid. I just had this feeling, though. I knew it was going to happen. When we went out for my birthday dinner that night, the restaurant we were at had the TV on right above our table. Bush was on the news outlining his plan of attack, and they refused to turn it off until my mom yelled at them for ruining our celebrations (this is a bar and grill that specializes in birthdays, so I'm not really sure why anyone there would have wanted to be watching such sad news on what is supposed to be such a happy day). I was very emotional that week and prone to tears, a state that was exploited by some of my more pro-war classmates. It wasn't so much that I was upset about my birthday being tainted. It was more that I felt guilty that I was celebrating while bombs were being dropped on innocent people in Iraq. Needless to say, it was not a happy birthday.

Thursday, the 20th, is also an emotional day for me. I was named after my great grandmother, and last year she grew very sick the weekend before my birthday. I was incredibly upset. For some reason, it was very important to me that she see me, her namesake and the oldest great grandchild, turn 18. It's such a big milestone, and I really wanted her to see me reach it. A few days before she died, we went to visit her in the nursing home, and I held her hand and told her how much I loved her and how proud I was to be named after her. I told her that I was going to be an adult in a few days and that I hoped she would be around to see it. My dad told me later that he thought she was going to die on my birthday so she would be remembered (her husband died on my uncle's birthday) but that she saw how important it was to me that she make it through that day and so she waited an extra day. I found that to be a very touching thought.

The final thing that makes this week so bittersweet is that Friday, the 21st, is the 14th birthday of my little sister Sophie. She was born right after I turned five and unfortunately was only with us for ten days. I suppose it's a bit strange to miss someone that I barely knew, but around this time of year I start wondering what my baby sister would be like and wishing she were still around. She was an exceptional girl, and I loved her very deeply, even though I only knew her for a couple of days. However, two years later, I got another little sister, and I wouldn't trade her for the world. She's one of my best friends, despite the large age difference between us, and I don't know what I would do without her.

I'm sorry if I bored anyone with my ramblings. I just wanted to honor the exceptional people who make this week so memorable and the events that changed my life. All of them were very dear to me, and I hope that wherever they are, they know that I'm thinking about them.


Ed said...

Very nice post, Anna.

Last night Bill, Gisela and I went out with Grandma thinking she wouldn't want to be alone. Rather than go to an Irish restaurant (they were probably all insanely crowded, and who likes Irish food, anyway? Boiled dinner - yummm!) we went to a new Mexican seafood restaurant. It was very good. ¡Feliz dia del Santo Patrick!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

That was a sweet post. I'm glad you can remember the good tings about the people you loved and have lost.

Maybe when the Bush junta gets driven from office the next President will end the war on your birthday.

Oh yeah, all of us here at Monkey Central want to wish you a happy birthday, the 20th one is special because you are no longer a teenager.

Cinderbelle said...

Actually, it's my 19th birthday. But thanks anyway. :-)

FranIAm said...

I come here via your Dad's blog...

Bored by your ramblings? I should not be surprised at the eloquence I find in your words, knowing your parents via their own blogs. (say hi to your mom! i am sure you guys are having a great visit!)

Anyway, your words touched my heart deeply. What a gift you have to be able to express yourself with such grace.

Happy Birthday and peace to you- peace for our world is clearly deep in your heart.

Thank you for your ramble!

Cinderbelle said...

No, this is not Cinderbelle. It's yer mom. Anna, thank you for this most beautiful post. I sometimes feel sad that the saddest event of my life came on the heels of one of the happiest events of my life -- your birthday. Yet, I can tell it has shaped you in ways that are still unfolding to us. Life is such a mystery, is it not? Happy birthday. There is no place I'd rather be on this day (not even Philadelphia.)

OK, that last cryptic comment is a reference to W.C. Fields' epitaph: On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.