An Irish Blessing

My mother loved St. Patrick’s Day. I dreaded my first one without her. 

By Kathy Keeley Anderson, Elburn, Illinois

As appeared in

Saint Patrick’s Day had been my mother’s favorite holiday. It meant more than parades and parties; it was a celebration of her heritage. Like any Irish mother, she was fiercely proud of her roots. She kept a neat home, a beautiful garden, and took care of the birds in her yard. Her death a year earlier, though not unexpected, had left me grief-stricken, and I dreaded my first March 17 without her.

One day in early February I was in a lawyer’s office, where my sister, Maureen, and I were finalizing my mother’s estate. I barely heard what the lawyer was saying, though. My thoughts were on Mother. I missed her so. The sound of papers rustling jolted me. “I just have to make some copies,” the lawyer told us. “Then we’re done here.”

After he left I turned to Maureen. “I can’t believe it’s been a year,” I said. Maureen was quiet. I quickly added, “But knowing her, she’s probably flitting around up in heaven, cleaning, working in the garden, looking after the birds.” Maureen grasped my hand. The lawyer came back. Maureen and I signed the final papers, hugged and said goodbye. “Try to have a good Saint Paddy’s, Kathy,” Maureen said. “She probably misses us too, but you know she’s with God.”

Yes, I thought on the way home, Mother’s at peace with the Lord. If only I could feel at peace. I picked up the mail and pulled up the driveway. On top of the pile of envelopes was one addressed to me, from the Carmelite Friars. I opened it up and saw it was a Saint Patrick’s Day card. In February? I wondered. That’s a little early.

I stared at the card before completely taking in the scene. A tall tree and flowers along a road, a wooden fence, a tiny cottage with birds on the window boxes. And as I read the words of the old Irish blessing, I could almost see Mother in that cottage, and hear her speak the words to me: “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.”

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Your Comments (14)

A nice Irish proverb says that "God moves slowly yet his grace comes". While waiting for his grace, we must keep close in our hearts the memories of beloved ones.

Love your story!! I do know that God is full of surprises, if we look for them. I feel sad that your message had to be criticized for trifles. I am 85 and have lost all of my "old" family, and still miss them. But I rejoice in the love of God and my "new" family (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren) and the knowledge that I am closer to Heaven each day, and my loved ones there. I am all Norwegian,but I do love all things Irish!! God bless. Ina

I really enjoyed the true story & the 4 leaf clover. Why all the fuss about it. I guess we all have different ideas. But can't we all just enjoy being Gods Children. It brings back sweet things of my mom & son who are gone now but not forgotten. Thanks for that.

Hummm,nothing takes the place or should compare its self to the cross.

Wow - The only symbol we should all be concerned about is the "heart" and the true love of God. He is not into symbols, just true believers.

I loved what Kathy shared, and felt that the message of hope that she shared with us was worth the read. I am sure she, nor guideposts meant to offend anyone with "inaccurate" symbols.

Come on people lighter up! What difference does it make if its St Patty's day or Paddys or Shamrock. I am Irish and it doesn't bother me or most Irish people. We know what they are saying. The world needs more laughter and understanding. Now more then ever

Kathy Keeley Anderson thank you so much for sharing. My mother went to be with the lord on March 15th 2011 and today marks are first year without her physical presents. I do miss her greatly. The last 7 years of her life she was total disabled. My father and sisters took great care of her. My father went to be with the lord on February 10,2008. My sister moved in to take care of my mother. On this day I know my mother would want us to celebrate her life and to celebrate our Irish heritage.

Thank you again and may you and yours have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day.

Nice Story. I would suggest getting the Shamrock corrected ASAP. If you know anything about St. Patrick I don't think he would appreciate your error!

I love your true stories,and once again I have learned from them.I did not know that the three leaf shamrock represented the Father ,Son and Holy Spirit.The trinity.All those years wasting time looking for a four leaf clover for good luck,when we or I had so many of the three leaf ones all around me that meant so much more. Linda Workman

I very much enjoy reading the inspiring and uplifting articles of "His Mysterious Ways." However, I must agree with Rosemary that whoever set up the article is not Irish. St. Patrick used the SHAMROCK, which has THREE leaflets, not FOUR, to represent the Holy Trinity. The Four-leafed clover is NOT a symbol of St. Patrick. As an Irish Catholic I do not appreciate people using the clover (which has no religious meaning) instead of the Shamrock (symbolizing the Three Persons in One God) for St. Patrick's symbol.

It's been more than 20 yrs and I still miss my mother.There are smells ,sights and many other things. That remind me of her.The woman is the heart of the family.I feel blessed to have had a mother who brings such beautiful memories.

My mom died on St Patrick's day of 1990 and it was her favorite holiday of the year. She was a very Irish gal with the last name Farrell. She was also very young, only 67, it's been a long 22 years without her.

Love the story. When I was five years old someone knocked at our door in Washington, Pa to tell my mom that our dad had died in a crash. It was St. Patricks day 1949. I guess that is why even being a little Irish I love the Irish songs and sayings. My dad would sing them to me. I will never for get that day many long years ago.

Your headline reads "St. Patty's Day Surprise". It should
be St. Paddy's Day.

Whoever wrote the headline must not be Irish.

Love your magazine and e-mail.