Out of the blue and in a moments notice your world can change. Just like that, one day you're lamenting or even happy about your life and then someone you know well experiences a loss or serious illness. THEN you really start to ponder your life. Life can literally turn on a dime.
In the Irish Community and probably other communities, we celebrate a passing of life with a wake. This is a get together of family and friends to enjoy a meal and often some drinks in memorial to the recently departed. Some wakes are somber and some are sober. The really good wakes are neither. The Irish celebrate life in the grandest way of all - family, friends, tears, laughter, and, if you're lucky, a little Irish dancing.
Which brings me to the recent wake of my good friend's wife, Anne Hinton Porter. Now some names are going to have to be with held because of position or careers but none the less this wake will go down in history of one of the best wakes. Others that were memorable were for John Lane, Roxanne McSweeney, Charlie Mentel, Murt Byrne and of course, when Coleman pulled out of the Governors race, but I'll save that for another blog.
Anne is the wife of an old friend of mine, Jamie Porter (you may recognize the name because Dempsey's has an annual Jamie Porter Day and he deserves it). She unexpectedly left us at an early age, leaving two young daughters and a HUGE family. Anne was a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt and friend. Those lucky enough to know her admired her acerbic wit, which was usually directed squarely at her husband. "Jamie Porter Day?! EVERY day is Jamie Porter Day.", she said as she rolled her eyes upon hearing of JPD. Anne enjoyed a good party with her family and friends and she would have loved every second of the send-off held in her honor. Boy, was it a doozie.
After a few hours into the wake, I noticed one guest (name withheld) dancing with several women to "Dancing Queen" or something along that line. He wasn't just dancing in the middle of a gaggle of women but was singing the song. I told him he can keep his badge and gun but his man card had to confiscated. It was just deflating to watch.
Now here is something I missed. This same individual that had his man card revoked and brother in law to Anne, Mike Gast, had a Mick Jagger "Jag off". Dancing to a Rolling Stones song and imitating Mick Jagger type moves. Rumor has it, the Jag Off was incredible. I can't really comment on how much entertainment was actually provided but I can recant this story.
Mike gets home and after the first bite of his much needed sandwich proclaimed "I don't care what you say, I won the Jag Off" Well, my friend, I will have to say that as you enjoyed your sandwich and immediately passed out, the other competitor went to work special duty. So in terms of stamina (a trait of Mick Jagger himself) you lose the Jag Off.
How did I miss this make-shift Dancing with the Stars episode? I volunteered to drive an over served elder home to German Village. Mr. M needed a ride home around 4 pm and they got him to my car. As soon as we left the wake, we began singing Irish rebel songs (Johnson's Motor Car and The Moonshiner) Unfortunately after two songs, the elder Mr. M decided he needed a nap.
Upon arrival at his home, the wife, Mrs. M, was waiting at the door. Now this wonderful woman is straight off the boat Irish and was not pleased that I brought an impaired Mr. M home. The look on her face was quite intimidating. I have to admit I was a bit concerned for my safety. She immediately said, "Why did you bring him here?" and I replied "He lives here, where was I supposed to take him?" The exchange continued until I asked permission to take Mr. M inside the house.
Mrs. M begrudgingly allowed her husband and I access to the home. In a stern manner, Mrs M said, "Take him to his room" and because I was concerned about getting a beating, I complied. Actually he ended up in his bathroom and I went back downstairs. I received another tongue lashing for NOT taking him to his room and asked permission to leave. Not their first rodeo in this arena, I presume.
Upon return to the wake, I find two cousins of the departed speaking with Mrs. Dempsey. Standing directly behind the two Moriarity Brothers, I could hear they were being complimentary but forward with Mrs. Dempsey. Convienently, a large trash dumpster was right next to me and near the two Moriaritys. They turned around and I instruct one of them to get into the dumpster. Not complying with my request, I lifted him and placed him in the dumpster for being forward with Mrs. Dempsey. He was taken off-guard from inside the dumpster and asked to be removed. I asked him to say please and he complied, so did I.
Then I found the recent widows, Karen Young's, old bike in the driveway and thought it would be a good idea for a bike ride around the Eastmoor neighborhood. Not doing too much bike riding and certainly not knowing the area, I rode away. Friendly neighborhood, I must say. Just about everyone was waving and/or saying hello. Maybe they were laughing or trying to warn me of traffic but friendly to me. After a while, I realized I was lost on this borrowed bike but just kept riding. Suddenly, I look up and I'm back at the wake. No idea how that happen or how I did not get injured but I will give it up to guardian angels watching my back.
This type of activity continued with Irish Whiskey and a lot of beer. Many times varied guests breaking out into Irish Step dancing, toasts, tears, laughter and celebration for Anne, her children and husband.
One of the best wakes this decade. Jamie Porter, my condolences for your horrific loss but your family & friends sent Anne off in style. Please share your stories from the wake on on this blog.
From that we celebrate our Irish Culture every month on the 17th at Dempsey's and this Wednesday the 17th, we have the McIans playing until 8 or 9, Shepherd's Pie special and happy hour starting at 3pm. Let's make another day of it for those who cannot join us in person.
Pride weekend, Comfest, Red, White & Boom and Doo Dah all coming soon, so come down to Dempsey's during these celebrations and make us part of your good times and lasting memories. Who knows, maybe we'll have a day named for you.