This morning I threw in some DVD’s of my sons when they were young. Lyla and Owen were here, and they wanted to see what Daddy was like when he was a little boy.
Well, they thought Daddy was a cute baby, that their little sister Maci looks just like him, and they thought that I looked absolutely ridiculous as a brunette. In fact, videos of me with my curly brunette hair sent them into a giggling fit that lasted way too long, and resulted in Owen almost choking on his own laughter.
Lyla and Owen watched their Dad learn how to bowl, and play horse shoes down at the Yacht Club in Grosse Ile with the old Irish Crowd. I can’t remember the event, but we never really needed a reason to gather and have fun. My mom was right when she told me to head down to the Gaelic League in search of old friends when I returned home from Michigan, and Kitty Heinzman was wise when she told me to keep my kids surrounded by good people.
So I did. Friday night fish fries, Irish ceili dancing, tin whistle lessons for the kids, learning how to count in Gaelic, and telling tales of the Gaelic League ghost, I hope will forever be some of their most cherished childhood memories. We’d get home late, and sleep in every Saturday. I’ve got many nuggets of wisdom tucked away in the back of my brain from the likes of Kitty Heinzman and Katie Meelock, but the one I was reminded of this week was from Jimmy the Irish Plumber. And yes, he was Irish, and he was a plumber, and he could dance like nobody’s business, twirling a partner around fast enough to scare the daylights out of ya. Seriously. It was scary. And he drove around in a van with a sign on the side. Guess what it said.
No, really… guess.
“Jimmy, the Irish Plumber!”
On that same Saturday afternoon when the kids were learning how to throw horse shoes, Jimmy the Irish Plumber sat at a picnic table outside with me. He asked me about my recent divorce. Then he told me that if I ever decided to re-marry, that it was really important to remember that it wouldn’t matter if the man wore a nice suit, or lived in a fancy house, drove an expensive care, had a hoity-toity job, was rich and famous, or had several degrees. Jimmy the Irish Plumber said that the most important thing about a man is that he is a GOOD man, and that he would teach my boys how to be good men, too – how to work hard, care for his family, and treat a lady respectfully.
And I don’t mean to offend anyone at all by saying this, but I really want to tell you what he said next – truthfully, because I have never forgotten it, and I think saying it any other way takes away from the memory for me. It was just the way Jimmy was. He had a thick, sometimes difficult to understand, very Irish brogue. He looked me square in the face and said, “Listen honey. If you find a GOOD man, it doesn’t matter if he shovels s— for a living! You just make sure he’s good to you and those boys of yours!”
I knew what Jimmy meant. He also shared with me that day how much he loved his daughters. He was a good man, and he wanted to give me some wisdom. I’ve never forgotten it, but this week, just after a few conversations with my son Rory and some time to sit and reflect, I thought about Jimmy, and what he had said. The last time I saw him, he remembered that he’d told me that, and he asked, genuinely interested in how the boys were. He was so pleased to know that Rory had become a special education teacher, but he was even more thrilled to hear that he’d given up his teaching career in order to pursue real estate so that he could be more available for his family, and a father who was present for his children. “You raised a good man,” he said.
“I did,” I said. He doesn’t shovel s— for a living, but if that’s what he had to do to care for his family, I know he would. He’s a good man.
And with that, off to that old wooden floor we went, to twirl around once more to “any old reel!” I haven’t been back to the Gaelic League since that night. I’ll have to change that soon, because there’s quite a few folks I miss.
Thanks again, Jimmy!
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24