Nine Irish Kids and the Power Codes

My mom is one of nine Irish kids who grew up in Howell, Mich. The tight connections among her siblings — my aunts and uncles — make for mega family reunions and for volumes of stories.

One story is about family population tracking and keeping peace during family meetings. My Aunt Kate — a mentor in all things Kate and the youngest of the nine — generated and assigned — in descending numeric and alphabetic power codes — to help everyone remember their “pecking” order in the family.

Numeric codes were assigned — from eldest to youngest as follows:

  1. Diane
  2. Susan (my mom)
  3. Gerry
  4. Betty
  5. John
  6. Steve
  7. Julie
  8. Dan
  9. Kate

Single, alphabetic codes were then matched to the number of offspring or pets each of the nine introduced to the family. For example, my Aunt Diane has four children. Their codes are 1A1, 1A2, 1A3, and 1A4. My mom had just two — my sister and I. So, we are 2B1 and 2B2. My cousins and I have learned our power codes do little to help trump discussions, decisions or euchre contests.

How do in-laws and future generations fit into this power code scheme? I am sorry to admit this. But, I lost the memo at my Aunt Gerry’s in Melbourne, Florida. It’s probably matted to the bottom of that empty keg we drank on St. Patrick’s Day 10 years ago.

So, how much of this story do you think is blarney and how much do you think is fact?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Live Your Dash

Within the previous 24 months, I have experienced the death of many family members and friends. I have lost two grandparents, two uncles, an aunt, a long-time family friend and the toddler son of a cousin. The death of so many woke me up. I realized my time on this planet is limited; and the time my family members and friends have is limited, too. During the holidays, one of my aunts included the following with her annual letter …

HOW DO YOU LIVE YOUR DASH?

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on his tombstone from the beginning to the end. He noted that first came his date of birth and spoke the following date with tears. But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For the dash represents all the time he spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved him know what that little line is worth, For it matters not how much we own — the cars, the house, the cash — What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard — are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be arranged. If we could just slow down long enough to consider what’s true and real. And always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more. And love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile. Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s been read with your life’s actions to rehash. Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

— Anonymous

This reflection resonates with me because I believe its message is a common theme playing in current happenings around our globe.