Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Irish, By God.

Baggott's an Irish name. Some Baggotts say it comes from By God. My father, who's got his Irish citizenship, scoffs at that. He's gone back as far as he can in our genealogy. By God? Not that far back.

Dave and I rented a house just outside of Dublin this past summer -- with our 4 kids and a niece. We caught up with some of my relatives -- Connor O'Keeffe who I remember meeting as a kid (the year I fell off a bike and got bit by a dog) -- and the Henihan branch of the family I'd never met before. (My father had organized a massive reunion -- flights booked for September 13, 2001. The Americans didn't make the trip.)

We spent an afternoon with the Henihans -- an architect, his wife, their beautiful daughters, their grandchildren and our kids playing wildly in the garden. And when I got back to our little house, I went to bed. I stayed there for two hours -- too emotional to go about the day.

I'd thought my whole life about the Baggotts who left -- about how brave they were, about my fast-walking grandfather, the drinker and charmer who died young from a blow to the head in a jeep accident, all of those Rhode Island Baggotts ...

But I'd never thought of the family who stayed behind. Why? Out of devotion. Loyalty. Love. Stubbornness. Fact is that it took courage to go and it took courage to stay -- and there's beauty in both paths.

Here I am -- in America because someone took a leap. And my cousin Connor is in Ireland raising his kids because someone dug in their heels.

Today I'm thankful for all of it, by God.