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One of the most beautiful passes in Ireland–Healy Pass

It’s funny–having two little brothers still affects me as a grown woman. I went out to a wine tasting event with two of my guy friends tonight–one married, one single. I guess no matter what, I will always be the little sister. An easy target, as my brothers say. I had fun but it reminded why I need a boyfriend pronto. I was their target for everything for the night. I think perhaps I secretly loved it.

Willie Nelson has been on my mind for several reasons this week and in fact, I mentioned him tonight with my guys. It was his birthday this past weekend. He plays the night before my 35th, and I am in Willie withdrawal (get your minds out of the gutter). I usually go with my best friend every year to the Fillmore to see Willie. Talk about a soul shaking experience. Yes, the Beatles were prevalent in my house growing up. However, Willie and Merle and Waylon were always the three guests at the table. What’s so funny is Willie’s new stuff, for the most part is fantastic. That’s because he is still writing the songs. Like Crazy back in the 40s, Willie is first a songwriter, and second a guitarist. Unfortunately, Willie’s covers are occasionally, and in the case of Amazing Grace, a disappointment.

My Gram loved to hear me sing, and when my tiny family gathered, she would force me on display. Her two favorite songs were Amazing Grace and Danny Boy—two very interesting selections for a Presbyterian from Vancouver. But perhaps she knew how much I loved to sing them as well. The last time I sang for her was my parents 30th anniversary. My sister-in-law’s grandfather, a true-blood Scot, couldn’t believe that her request was Danny Boy, seeing as though it was an Irish tune. I sang the hell out of that song that night, and could barely get through it. Perhaps I knew it would be the last time in the home where I grew up, near the fireplace where I had been singing for 20 years, singing for her.

I am not sure why I am on a Willie kick today, but my favorite story, shortly after I sang, was when I visited Gram right after we moved her into assisted living–a decision we all try to not to acknowledge because even though it was right for her, she pretended she was not defeated. Anyway, I went to have dinner with her and in the elevator, a woman with twin braids and a red bandanna across her forehead rolled in. Gram acknowledged her and said, “Hello Willie!”. When we got off and sat down at our assigned table, I asked her if she had a new friend, trying to exude excitement into all we did that day. She looked at me dead in the eyes and said, “Are you daft? That woman looks like Willie Nelson, so that’s what I call her. Willie.” Enough said. Miss Mae had her say. You can’t argue with an 89 year-old genius.

I wish she could have met Quinn, my parent’s new puppy. Or Darby for that matter. She had Darbs and my brand new nephew Parker on her wall next to her chair. I cannot believe that was four years ago. She used to feed our dog Maddie scraps under the table. Maddie hated everyone except for my parents and occasionally me. But she loved Gram because she knew she was the one who threw bits of chicken and potatoes and bread from the tabletop.

Quinn this weekend fought me holding her, anytime my mom was free. Perhaps that’s what we do. We fight for those we want to be closest to, even if it’s at the sake of those we love. I just squeezed her tighter, like I do with my nephews or niece. She watches mom like her life depends on it. Well, perhaps as a new puppy, her life does depend on my mom. She pretended well to like my dad, especially when he wrestled her and took a baby fang to the forearm, but really, she loves mom.

One more story, I promise. It’s my favorite. I can’t listen to Hank and not think of a ten-gallon hat.  In fact, it’s my dad’s favorite story ever. We were all in the elevator going up to my Gram’s room. She was in the back; walker with tennis balls on the front legs. A bunch of people got in, including a tall gentleman in a cowboy hat. My dad leaned in to her and said, “Tight quarters, huh Mum?” and her response, I swear to everything, was “Well, we’d have a hell of a lot more room if someone removed their damned hat”” Her words echoed off the doors of the elevator. Anyone with a hearing aid set at above low heard her loud and clear.

Isn’t that what we wish for? To speak our minds loud and clear? I wish I had that much guts. Maybe I need another 53 years to get there. Slowly and surely, I’ll get there.

Alive Again–Chicago

Amazing Grace–Willie Nelson

Sing a Simple Song–Sly and the Family Stone

Gone at Last–Paul Simon

Lost Highway–Hank Williams

Exit Music (For a Film)–Radiohead