IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

On St. Patrick's Day, Matthews honors his roots

Let me finish tonight with this day, March 17, St.

Let me finish tonight with this day, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, also my parents' anniversary.  

They were married on this day back in 1942 for two very basic reasons. One, it was St. Patrick's Day, and, two, it was a day the church gave dispensation from Lent.  There was no fasting or giving up things.

I'm remembering this because of the power history has on people. 

I started today at the Vice President's house hearing him talk about the on-going effort to keep peace in Northern Ireland between the Catholics and the Protestants. 

I have an interest in that peace because I'm the result of a more limited peace between the two religions over there. My mother was Catholic and my father was Protestant when he married.  My mother's parents were Shields and Conroys and Quinlin's - I favor the Quinlins, my aunts tell me.

My father's mother - Granmon in Chestnut Hill - was from Northern Ireland and as Orange as you can get. Think Mrs. Doubtfire - only in this case for real.

We grew up with Grandmon's brogue and mom taking shots at it from the other side, but only on occasion - like when she became a citizen just so she could vote for Eisenhower, a fellow Presbyterian.

I'm lucky to have had such parents from either side of that old fight over there - and over here in the old days, my Mom would remind us. 

She'd tell us you couldn't get a job with the milk company in Philadelphia before "the war" - that's World War II - if you didn't fill out an application that included the "religion" question.  The right answer on that application was Episcopalian or Presbyterian or something along that line.  Writing in Catholic was the wrong answer. 

When Mom and Dad got married, it didn't go over all that well with either family, not back then. It was a rather small wedding I hear.

Well, as things happen in this country, it all worked out.  We were totally, utterly, wonderfully loved by our grandparents and aunts and uncles on both sides.  Whatever difficulty there was in getting their parents to accept the marriage, there was no trouble. In fact, the opposite from them about us.  You couldn't ask for greater relatives than my four brothers and I have.

So, sometimes it's good, I think, to remember where you came from. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day - to both of them - to "all" of them.