Saturday, June 26, 2010

Luck of the Irish

I just returned from a month in Galway, Ireland, where I taught a summer course for my university. I was lucky enough to live with people who have become friends, as well as to have my friend, Jennifer, come. We traveled around the west of Ireland and experienced a lot of life. But the part of my trip that will remain forever at the top of my list of best weeks was the last week there, when my mom came to visit.

Back in January, I had been to a medium who told me that my mom would visit me sometime soon, and she would need me to take care of her. At the time I just figured that meant Mom might come up to La Crosse for a few days. When I found out later I was going to Ireland, she mentioned that she might like to come visit. I told her to think it over, but she was reluctant to come without Dad and Dad was reluctant to come at all. Finally, one night on the phone she said, “You know what? I’m coming on my own, and you’ll just have to take care of me.” Just like the medium had told me. I knew it was meant to be now. And I knew it would all be okay.

The morning of June 18, I took the bus to Dublin with my school group, and then as quickly as I could took the commuter bus to the airport. There she was! My mom was in Ireland. If only her luggage had arrived with her…alas. The first chance for me to help her was trying to figure out how we would get them back. It took a few phone calls, but it showed up in Galway two days later.

We spent the first two days in Dublin, and Mom was a real trooper. I kept her walking all afternoon that first day to try to keep her awake till evening. Otherwise, jetlag will persist. She walked in sandals that gave her blisters, but she never once complained. The next day we went off again and explored our hearts out, stopping at a cathedral, a prison (!!), and a lovely park dedicated to Irish revolutionaries from the early 20th century.

On Sunday, we were glad to leave Dublin for the relative calm of the west. Over the days together, we explored Galway, the ocean near Galway, The Burren and Cliffs of Moher, and Connemara and Kylemore Abbey. Each day trip out of Galway included lots of walking, lots of sitting on small buses, and lots of climbing around very rocky and uneven terrain, but Mom took it all on with gusto and saw as much as she could. She also took with great equanimity the swearing and inebriation we witnessed (not to mention the time I had Guinness with lunch)! In the quieter moments on the bus and on walks, we talked about family, life, and the things around us.

One of my favorite moments was in Eyre Square in Galway City Center. We were just relaxing and soaking up some Irish sun, and I got out the joke book she bought for Dad as a souvenir. I read some aloud and we both laughed till our guts hurt. Even some of the less “clean” ones. It was great to be sitting in Ireland and just enjoying each other's company. And I always love getting a big laugh out of her.

My mom and I always get along (now that I’m an adult anyway), but this last week in Ireland was a rare opportunity to be friends and travel companions in a way that is difficult in the course of everyday life. I already knew I was lucky and blessed to have the parents I do, but now I know that the luck of the Irish gave me a week that will forever live in my heart as a moment of pure happiness.