Home > Family, Life Lessons > The Taste of a Memory

The Taste of a Memory

As I’ve spoken of before, when a person dies in my family, we have one of two things: a wake (if they’re Catholic) or a viewing (if they’re protestant). I thought the difference had to do with religion, until I asked my brother if I was about to attend a wake or a viewing (in my mind, asking if the body was going to be on display) and my brother said, “It’ll be a viewing. Wakes are more fun.”


Yes, fun.

When my father passed away, we didn’t want any of the “boo hoo, woe is me, what are you going to do without him?” sentiment. We wanted to celebrate a life well lived.

According to family and religious tradition, we prayed a rosary, we gathered with friends and family. Since Dad made fourth degree the day before he died, we even had a Knight’s of Columbus color guard on hand.

Then, near the end of the service, we pulled out a bottle (maybe the only bottle we had?) of Paddy’s Irish Whiskey to toast to Dad.

Paddy’s was special. I knew that from the time I was a kid. When Dad would run out, it was time to go back to Ireland! That was the only time we got it (other than a few times when cousins brought it back for us).

There were no importers of Paddy’s in the U.S., so it just wasn’t possible to buy here.

So the stuff was savored, rationed, and completely and totally special. Only the closest of friends and family were offered a taste.

Wednesday night, after a huge meal in Little Italy, Charles decided we’d stop in on the way home at a pub. The James Joyce.

I wasn’t really wanting a drink (I was stuffed!) but I opened the menu and my face lit up. There at the bottom of the list was Paddy!

I’ve been in bars that have a bottle, but can’t sell it. So I had to ask. I didn’t really want it for myself (so not a whiskey drinker!) but I just had to know! Had Dad’s wish come true? This could be almost as big as the Red Sox winning the world series!

The manager came over to talk to us, and yes. Now it is available here. Charles was going to enjoy some Jameson, but after seeing the look on my face when I found out they really DID have it…ordered the Paddy.

Truthfully? He hates the stuff. It burns on the way down and lingers. To me, it sort of tastes like sickness (it’ll knock a cold right outta you!).

But split the shot, and I loved it 🙂

It’s like having God breathe a hot breath of life directly into your lungs.

I’m sorry you didn’t live to see the day Paddy’s was available in the States, Dad. But I enjoyed it for you!

  1. Jeannine Barber
    February 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Yeah, Paddy’s is a throat scorcher. Maybe it was more about being in Ireland than the actual taste. I find now that Smithwick’s is available here that it doesn’t taste nearly as good!!

    • February 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      I felt the same way when I tried Murphy’s here! Dad and I put back SO many of those in Ireland, but meh. Nothing special anymore.

  2. eileen o'brien poole
    February 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    what a lovely (and, yes, hearty) memory to have. woody has had the pleasure of enjoying some w/ your dad – on st. patrick’s day – in ireland! how is that for an ‘almost a cousin’ connection – God bless them, they enjoyed such a wonderful friendship. he & shamus have shared paddy’s – on this side of the pond, and the other, as well. (jim probably re-stocks on his frequent trips.) we often say we “we love our cousins” … and we sure have a long list of reasons (and memories) why we do!

  3. February 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    The second person I thought of after I saw the Paddy…Jimmy 🙂

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