Where I Come From – Part I

When we think about where we come from, the timeline is relatively short. My basic bio includes cities and towns like Chattanooga, Nashville, Oakdale, and New York. If you ask me where I come from, I’ll probably answer Oakdale, even though I’ve now lived a majority of my life in Nashville. I come from Oakdale because that’s where I spent weekends and summers while growing up, where I finished high school, and where my church membership still resides.

My mom used to track our genealogy and share the stories she found, but that had to stop when I was around twelve or thirteen. She was hired on as a nursing director, and most of her free time disappeared. I still remember some of the stories, though the details are fuzzy. My maiden name McBay, from my dad’s side of the family, obviously, developed because my ancestors ran a ferry on, around, or to the Hebrides Islands in Scotland. We were, literally, sons of the bay. The Langleys, her side of the family, trace back to England (a fact that irritates the piss out of my very Irish husband).

Her research gave me a slightly larger picture of where I come from. It’s not just the town I’ve lived most of my life in. It’s not where I had my first kiss or went to the prom. Where I come from is actually a sweeping epic—where everyone comes from is, really. Our ancestors MADE the history we study today.

Now that my mom has retired, she’s returned to her passion for genealogy—this time with the assistance of some amazing technology. Her gift for Christmas was a monthly membership to Ancestry.com, and with this powerful tool, she has traced some of our family back to the years Christ walked the Earth.

That is a staggering realization, isn’t it? We think of biblical times as remote, distant, and in no way connected to us except through faith. But these things did happen. And our ancestors were a part of that history. Maybe they weren’t present with Jesus, but they were in a world about to be changed by one man. Some day she’ll trace even further back, and I’ll have another surreal moment or ten.

The timeline that has now been added to the “where I come from” mystery is enormous, and still not even close to reaching the very beginning. The characters she’s uncovered in my ancestry are numerous and deserve to be remembered, just as your own ancestors do. For that reason, I’m planning to blog—probably sporadically—about the discoveries she’s made.

I’ll focus on one or two people at a time, mostly as a record of her discoveries that will live on outside of her website. Also, I think, as a gift to my niece and nephew, who may someday also want to know where they come from. Mostly, though, I’m sharing here because it’s cool. It’s history. It’s me.

Just to give you a little taste of the characters in my family history that I’ll cover, so far we’ve tracked down Richard Warren, a passenger on the first voyage of the Mayflower to America, and also a signer of the Mayflower Compact. That’s super cool, of course, but then she discovered we’re also descended from Óengus mac Nad Froích, believed to be the first Christian King of Munster in Ireland. Legend has it he was baptized by St. Patrick, himself. (Uh-oh, Liam. Who’s Irish now?) Even more amazing, another branch on our family tree just might lead to Charlemagne. Obviously, I have my work cut out for me if I really want to discover where I come from.

What about you? Where do you come from?

The Greenest Green I’ve Ever Seen

We’ve been back for almost a month now. I’m always on top of these things, you know. Here are the photos we took in Ireland. You may have already seen some of them if you follow me on Instagram. Enjoy!

Crosshaven
Crosshaven
Myrtleville
Myrtleville
Kinsale
Kinsale with the kiddos
Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle
Blackrock Castle
Blackrock Castle
Three generations of Barry boys
Three generations of Barry boys
Bunratty Castle and Durty Nelly's
Bunratty Castle and Durty Nelly’s
Galway Bay
Galway Bay
Thatched roof on Inishmore
Thatched roof on Inishmore
Ruins on Inishmore
Ruins on Inishmore
Rock walls of Aran Islands
Rock walls of Aran Islands
Irish heather
Irish heather
Barren landscape
Barren landscape on Inishmore
Cliffs of Dún Aonghasa
Cliffs of Dún Aonghasa
Cliff view from Dún Aonghasa
Cliff view from Dún Aonghasa
Curious cow
Curious cow
Father Ted caravan
Father Ted caravan
Ger and Rosie
Ger and Rosie
Low tide in Youghal
Low tide in Youghal
Lismore Castle
Lismore Castle
Wooden sculpture
Wooden sculpture
Michael Collins
Michael Collins
Michael Collins home
Michael Collins home
Inchydoney Beach
Inchydoney Beach
Michael Collins assassination location
Location of Michael Collins’ assassination

We also spent time in Dublin celebrating the Easter Rising Centenary, but apparently I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures. The whole trip was amazing, but I’ll never forget hearing the proclamation read aloud in Irish and English in front of the GPO. Definite high point, though choosing just one would be nearly impossible. (Yes, Katie, afternoon tea. Without a doubt, afternoon tea was the highest.)

Can’t wait to go back!

 

How Hurley Got His Middle Name

hurley lucky barry

Liam didn’t want a dog. Any time “dog” was mentioned, he’d wax poetic about his childhood pup, Lucky, and say that no other dog could ever live up to his first. Lucky was a Jack Russell terrier, saved from the shelter in Cork by a seven-year-old Liam and his older sister. They didn’t get permission before bringing the lucky dog home and springing him on the family. As is often the case, the rest of the household fell madly in love.

Lucky lived a life more luxurious than any of the kids, according to Liam. While Liam had to eat gross things like porridge or vegetables (remember, this story came from Liam himself – always take with a grain of salt), Lucky got sausages. While Liam was required to stay home and out of his mother’s hair, Lucky got to go to the English market every day. It was from that very English market that Lucky was snatched one day, and a heartbroken Liam grew up determined never to fall in love with another dog.

Well, as we all know, marriage is about compromise. A neighbor let slip that one of his friends needed to rehome a Jack Russell puppy, so I told him to bring the dog by for us to meet him. I knew, knew, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Liam wouldn’t be able to resist a wriggly, sweet little puppy. And I was right. The dog was given a 24-hour trial period, during which we would try to avoid naming him. I already had a name picked out, of course.

The first morning we woke with the puppy in the house, Liam went to take him straight outside. After taking him from the cage, however, he though the dog might want to see me first thing. Unfortunately, the pup lost his bladder right outside the bedroom door. That was about when I started to stir. Then, the house alarm blared. In his haste, Liam had forgotten to disable it. I jumped from the bed, wide awake by that point, and ran to turn off the awful noise. The moment my foot hit that puddle of pee, I went down into the splits, and there I stayed, laughing so hard that I couldn’t move. Liam had to help me up when he got back inside.

After that, there was no question: we were keeping that puppy. He just needed a name. Liam’s choice? Lucky. I said no way. We couldn’t expect this poor puppy who’d already peed in the house to live up to the rosy memories Liam had of his childhood dog. Besides that, the sister who’d gone with Liam as a kid to adopt the lucky Lucky had named two subsequent dogs Lucky. The name was no longer original.

Liam finally agreed that Hurley was a fitting name, and after a week or so, we realized no other name would have suited him as well. Liam took our new baby for his first checkup at the vet. The vet tech asked for the dog’s name, and Liam, still a little miffed that he hadn’t gotten his way, grudgingly replied, “Hurley.”

“And his middle name?”

Well, Liam didn’t even know dogs could have middle names. Without hesitation, he blurted the first name that came to mind.

How a Husband Handles Heartbreak

I spend a lot of time telling stories about my husband that make people laugh. Fortunately, he’s fine with it. In fact, he kind of loves being “internet famous.” But this man is so much more than a laugh factory.

When Hurley nabbed a baby bird in our back yard last month, I figured the poor thing was dead. I shooed the dog away and ran back inside for some shoes and my glasses. With the ability to see properly, I could tell the little guy was probably injured, but I didn’t know how much. He could still hop around the yard, but the tree branches were out of his reach. Still, he was safe enough without the dog menacing his every move, so I left him to his parents.

Later, I ran to the car to grab something and found the little guy just underneath the driver’s side door. He didn’t move a muscle while I was there, so I left him again. The next time I let the dog out, I’d nearly forgotten the tiny bird. Hurley had not. Within moments, he was chasing the poor thing around the yard.

Liam and I decided to act. We snatched the dog back and put him inside the house. Then we set up a makeshift nest in the bottom of a cooler. The walls were too high for the bird to get out, which was reassurance for us that he wouldn’t inadvertently jump to his death on the hard ground or inside my dog’s mouth.

I visited the Walden’s Puddle website (a wildlife rescue near Nashville) and learned how to care for the injured bird until we could get an appointment to turn him over to smarter and more experienced people. Every hour, for twelve hours, I hand-fed the bird mushy cat food by tweezers.

When I woke the next morning, I ran out to check on the bird first thing. Liam wasn’t far behind. My heart skipped a beat when the bird jumped up to greet us—or probably to escape, but I’m sentimental. Liam brought out the cat food mush and herded Hurley into the yard so I could get the bird fed. I couldn’t believe he’d made it through the night! We just had to keep him alive until 4:30 for our appointment with Walden’s Puddle.

Every hour, I fed the bird, but then we had to leave him alone for a bit. We timed our trip to the wildlife sanctuary perfectly. When I rushed through the house to grab the cooler for our trip, I was so excited that we’d saved this bird. Until I reached the cooler and found that our tiny new friend had slipped away while we weren’t looking.

His little body lay limp on the nest we’d made, his bright eyes once filled with trust now glazed. Just thirty minutes away from salvation, he’d given up. He didn’t know, of course, that we were working hard to keep him alive so that he could be healed at the hands of wildlife experts.

The first tears slipped out as I ran back to tell Liam we’d lost the bird. I expected him to think I was silly for crying. It was just a bird, right? Instead, that funny man of mine took my hand and led me back to the cooler where we stood in silence for just a few moments.

Then he grabbed a shovel and dug a small grave next to Rosie, and we laid the little guy to rest. As I cried, Liam just held me. Before we walked away, he said a short prayer. That bird wasn’t our pet and never could have been, but Liam gave him a final resting place of honor. And he’d never admit it, but I saw him shed a tear or two, as well.

And that’s how a good, loving, respectful husband handles heartbreak.

I wrote this just after we lost our little friend but waited until now to post for reasons I can’t really explain. Mostly, I couldn’t proofread without crying. :-\