St Patrick’s Day, and I’m outfitted in my green, “May the Luck of the Lepre-chauns Be With You,” sweatshirt and walking Roo Roo. My last name is Boggan; my husband’s Irish ancestors, they had to have been Bog Men. Willard always like to make this a rather special day for us, but our city, state, and the world is bowing to a deadly virus, the coronavirus, an unknown, unseen disease that potentially may kill hundreds of thousands. I’m not singing the happy songs, instead, for some unknown reason, “Shall we gather at the river,” bursts from my lips as the dog and I pass houses on St. Andrews.
Further down the way, when Roo and I cross the creek on the Country Club golf course, the line with it’s crystal tide forever, comes to mind and for a few brief moments I remembered a trip to Ireland Willard and I had taken many years ago.
But after the dog walk and breakfast, I’m back in today’s time and eaten up with the mulleygrubs, like I’m sure most of the world is. My children have told me, “Do not get in your car and drive anywhere.” But, I need dog food, could use some water and it wouldn’t be bad to have extra toilet paper. A tad hard-headed, I decide to turn off my cellphone and run to the grocery store.
The carts are buggy to buggy, empty shelves line the store. I find dog food, but no water or toilet paper--the checkout line will be 20 to 30 minutes. A young lady in front of me and I had a nice visit while we waited. “I see you have dogs,” she said. She laughed when I told her, “My children said if I got out, they would come pick me up and take me to their house. But, my dogs need to be fed. And I want to stay home with them.”
On the margin of the river.
When she left, the cashier asked me to point out where my groceries stopped. I thought that was strange, but did so. When I gave her my credit card, she said,” The young lady ahead of you paid for your groceries.”
You know, just when you think that people don’t give a hoot and a holler about the other person, something like this happens.
Lay we every burden down.
I didn’t have anything cooked in the house, so while I was out and about I ran to a takeout cafeteria and picked up enough for two meals. Unloading food in the car, I thought of a friend who wasn’t feeling well, so I went back through the line. The cafeteria was getting low on food, the same lady had already checked me out and so she wouldn’t think I was being selfish I told her that the food was for a sick friend. Once again I gave her my credit card. She handed my card back to me.“There is no charge. I hope your friend enjoys.”
Grace our spirits will deliver.
I left the food by my friend’s back door.
Back home I decided to change from my St. Patty’s sweatshirt. Pulling it over my head, then placing it onto a hanger, I looked at the words and thought back to another time, when husband Willard and I were in Ireland. He was playing golf and I was driving back to our bed and breakfast. On a skinny one-way street, going around a sharp, sudden turn, my side mirror may have slightly scraped a truck that was parked on a sidewalk.
It was an old truck, I consoled myself, and I might have barely scratched it. But I quickly forgot the truck as my attention was directed to a roundabout. I would have managed it perfectly but the road sign had been angled in the wrong direction; I turned outward instead of inward.
Their mouths open in astonishment, people in cars faced me. I made a quick, wide swing in the other direction. But I forgot to push in the clutch, the tires squealed, the car belched, bucked and stopped.
A man wearing a tank top with two big red lips painted on it and riding a motorcycle did a wheelie, shook his fist and yelled something that sounded like, ‘Cold Ditch.”
Cranking up again and turning down a side street I made out a line of slow moving cars and a flashing yellow light, a funeral procession.
I followed their slow trail through crooked streets. Lucky me, they would lead me on through town, I thought. But the road ended behind a church. Other cars pulled up behind me, and people went into the sanctuary. Blocked in, I got out of the car and sat under a shade tree waiting for the service to end.
The doors finally swung open and as an organ played the final hymn, “Shall We Gather at the River,” people began coming out.
An elderly couple stopped under the tree where I sat. A fitting tribute for Ian,” the man said.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be here, but the driving is very hard.” I said in a quivery voice.
“Yes. Life is hard,” the man said. “Are you close to the deceased?”
“Not in the least,” I choked out.
“Nice to meet you, Bernice,” the lady said. “An American cousin?”
“I’m nervous.” My voice came out in ragged catches, sounding like a tearing skirt caught on a fence.
“A lovely service for your cousin,” the woman said.
“I didn’t know him.”
The lady’s face had the proper look of concern. “We have doubts. We’re all hard to understand. But he was a good man. He has gone to his reward.” She leaned against her husband. “I know she’s speaking English, but she’s awfully hard to understand.”
Her husband took her arm.“I don’t remember Ian mentioning a cousin Bernice from the States. Still, there is something about the nose.”
They walked away together, stepping in a measured gait to the winding down organ music, with words that end the song, Yes, we’ll gather at the river.
I hung the St. Paddy’s shirt in an outside closet.
Lift their songs of saving grace.
Now today, March 17, 2020, here in Jackson, with all our world has going on I don’t feel like celebrating, but I pause and think, how good people were to me today. And they are out there, for so many others.
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.