Once a year, on March 17th, those of us who haven’t died yet, celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day at the Sally MacLennane. This year was no different. My grandson wheeled me in, “Now, Grandfather. You know you’re not supposed to drink.”
“On this day, I drink, and you know it!”
Jamie, Liam, Conner and Dillon all raised their tankards and belted out, “Hear! Hear! We’ll drink to that!”
“I see Ryan’s not here this year,” I observed, as I studied the room.
“He took the train to Dublin three weeks ago,” Liam took another chug. “Should be with the others now.”
Dillon hollered at the barkeeper, “Bring Gavin his first round!”
“I’m on it! I’m on it!” came the answer.
Conner raised his drink, “Aye! Won’t be long before we’ll be joining them!”
Ah, I wished I were 50 years younger when the barmaid handed me my drink. She was grandly built, and my old eyes followed her as she walked away, her little kilt barely covering anything as her hips danced the way a pretty woman’s always had.
Jamie roared, “I see you’ve noticed our dear new friend!”
“I’ll drink to that!” I tipped my drink, and let the brown pour. “Well, Ryan, the least you could have done was drop a postcard in the mail when you got there.”
We drank away the night, into the early dawn. My Grandson joined right in, it wasn’t like he had a choice. We told the stories once again, of our wives, and sons and daughters, and of all our friends now gone, all gone, on the train to Dublin and beyond.
“Was Eathan that left first, as I recall.”
“Aye, he did,” Dillon agreed. “And we all cried like little girls that day, we did.”
Liam set his drink upon the table, “It was the first time one of us left.” He stared into his drink, “The first time.”
Conner shook his head, “He could have told us he was leaving. Going to Dublin and beyond.” He raised his drink and drained some more, “Was rather rude of him, you know. Not telling us about the train.”
And as the dark began to fade away, falling before the sun, we sat there at our table with our drinks, and remember every name.
What does it mean, when ancient men like us, get sloshed on Saint Patrick’s Day, you might wonder. It’s what old men do to live with the memories of all the friends and loves long gone, so we don’t feel so alone. And we never say they’re dead and gone, buried in the cold hard ground. That would be so permanent. It’s better, don’t you know, to leave hope and dreams alive. And say they’ve caught the train to Dublin and beyond. And someday know our turns will come, and we’ll ride that train, and join them.
In Dublin, and beyond.