St. Patrick’s Day is this Monday, and I just want to go on record saying I love the Irish.
I love those infectious accents, I love the whole leprechaun deal, I even like corned beef and cabbage. In fact, to this day, whenever I see a rainbow I look to the end of it and imagine a pot of gold there. Have I missed any stereotypes? Whatever—I still love the Irish.
So you can imagine how I lit up when I was visiting a convalescent home and they announced there would be an Irish sing-along. Whoo-ee, right? You almost want to move in, if this is the kind of entertainment they keep offering.
I was visiting my mother, who not only had Alzheimer’s, but a broken hip, shoulder, and back. She lived to be 93 and when she died, they found no blood in her veins—just stubbornness. Okay, I’m kidding. But her feisty personality is what I am sure kept her going for years.
“How about that?” I said, beaming. “A sing-along in the recreation room!”
“Those are never any good,” she snapped.
“Well this one will be,” I sang, wheeling her down the hallway. “It’s Irish!” The very definition of fun.
The social director passed out some lyric sheets, then started a video as various residents gathered around the TV.
“An Irish sing-along!” I couldn’t resist saying to the grim faces around me, hoping they’d catch my enthusiasm. They looked at me as if I were in worse shape than they were.
The music began. And then it hit me: All these gloomy residents were right, and I was wrong. Many Irish songs, it turns out, are about death. And we’re basically in a rest home.
“Uh-oh,” I muttered to myself as the tear-jerking Danny Boy started up. This is a song about a father sending his son off to die in the war, knowing he’ll be in his own grave soon.
I was hoping the next one would be a jig. Nope. It was a morbid little ditty that went, “She died of a fever and no one could save her and that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.”
Yeah, oops. I looked around at the frowning residents. This was like playing sad Barry Manilow love songs to someone who just got dumped by their boyfriend.
The social director seemed oblivious, and was trying to get various seniors to sing the ghastly lyrics about imminent demise. I couldn’t decide if I should go along with her in hopes she was going for satire, or tap her on the shoulder and explain the grave—no pun intended—error here.
The third song was about an Irish guy who died working on the railroad, so I decided to wheel my mom outside, maybe to the cheerier garden. Except the wheelchair lock was down and I couldn’t undo it. Of all times to be trapped! By the time I got it undone they were singing Down Went McGinty about some guy who survived several near-fatal accidents before finally throwing himself into the sea. You think I’m kidding? Google the lyrics.
Why couldn’t they just have a Disco Day and sing Stayin’ Alive? I began humming that one, instead, as I rolled the wheelchair along. And, I’ve got to admit, once again my mom was right.
Portions of this totally true blog appear in Funeral Potatoes—The Novel. Check out all my books at jonihilton.com.