When my dad passed away, I inherited the family photo albums. I was looking through some of the older family photos when I came across a picture of a gorgeous young man. I turned the photo over and prayed there was at least a name, if not a date.  I was thrilled to see that it had both, but it was written in an unfamiliar hand. The writing on the back of the photo identified the young man as a childhood friend of my great, great grandfather’s.  It was dated 1850.  His name was Rory Fitzpatrick. It was one of those pictures taken at a photographer’s studio. He was dressed in the fashion of the time.   He had just arrived here from Ireland when this picture was taken.  That’s it, that’s all I had to go on. He was Rory Fitzpatrick, a handsome Irish lad coming to America in 1850. I had always been interested in family history and he did more than pique my interest. I became obsessed with him. I managed to get a hold of a copy of my family tree, and I joined Ancestry.com and so began my research on this gorgeous family friend while deeply regretting the centuries that separated us. 

    He came here because he wanted to find work, as many young men and women did at that time. He was a carpenter and he was hoping to get any work he could find to build a house and find a wife.  He built the house he lived in, then he built another house and another and he ventured into making furniture and in just a few years he was a very wealthy man.  He courted many women who didn’t waste any time in trying to get him to marry them. He also rejected many women, the same women who wouldn’t give him the time of day when he was just a poor Irishman looking for work. He decided to focus on his business and leave his marital status to the fates. The right woman was worth the wait, and he had faith that she would come along eventually. He had amassed quite a fortune and was independently wealthy by the time he passed away in 1905 at the age of seventy-five. He left his vast fortune to his family in Ireland, his mother, and three sisters. They had been wanting to come to America but didn’t have the means, until now.

     This is where it gets weird.  As I continued my research, I discovered that his sister, Eileen was born with a gift. The same gift I was born with. She could travel through time in her dreams. Shortly after I came across his picture in my family album, she started appearing to me in my dreams. A vision from the past, beckoning me to come back with her. One night she started a conversation with me. A conversation about Rory. My therapist would have a field day with this.

“My brother is still waiting for you. He needs you.” There was a loving plea in her voice.

   “I’ve only been meeting with you for a short time, how could he know about me?” I asked, a little confused as to how things worked.

“I’ve been telling him all about you. He has our give as well, but he just couldn't bear another heartbreak, so he sent me to test the waters, so to speak. Are you willing to meet him?”  Her tone was very hopeful.

   “I suppose that would depend on what you told him about me.” I replied cautiously.

“I’ve told him that since you’ve seen his portrait that you have been drawn to him, to his strength, his sense of himself and his unique creativity.”

   “Does he know how sad and angry it made it me to of how those women treated him?” I could feel the anger rising, even now.

“He wants to meet you. I thought I would leave that bit of the conversation for the two of you.” She winked at me as she faded into the mists. “Tomorrow night.” I heard her faint whisper just before I woke up.  

    The next day was a blur, I couldn't stop thinking about meeting him in my dreams that night. I sounded certifiable, even to me, but I was just as nervous and excited as I would have been going out on a ‘real’ date. That night, I was expecting Eileen to bring Rory, but I was pleasantly surprised when he showed up on his own.

  “Hello, lass.” He held out his arms to me and I stepped into them for a warm embrace. “My sister has told me all about you.”

“I know she has, but wanted to let you know how sad and angry I was for you. Those other women and how they treated you. I shook my head feeling the anger rise once again. “They didn’t deserve someone as strong and loving as you.”

    “The price of wealth and a handsome face, I guess.” He shrugged it off like it was nothing, but there was still the pain of it in his eyes. “I had hoped that at least one of them would have seen past the wealth and the handsome face, alas, none of that sort could be found.” He left the sentence hanging. 

“Until now?” I finished for him.

    “Until now.”  His voice echoed all of the hope he thought he had lost, until now. He held out his hand to me. I took it without hesitation.

“Where are we going?” I asked, but I already knew and couldn’t wait to arrive.

   “To change history.” He led me back in time to when he was just starting to amass his vast fortune.  We stopped in front of the house he lived in at that time. It was on the edge of town. It had a lovely wrap-around porch and a white picket fence. The house actually had a white picket fence. I’d always wanted to live in a house with a wrap-around porch and a white picket fence.

      “Are you ready to begin your new life, lass, as my wife?" He gave my hand a squeeze.

“Your wife?” I stammered. “I’d be proud and honored to be your wife. Let’s do it.”

    He let go of my hand and we were in our bed, in our house with the wrap-around porch and white picket fence and he was looking down at me with the most loving look in his eyes.

  “Good morning, my love. How did you sleep?” He asked as he gently brushed the hair from my eyes, and leaned in to give me a searing good morning kiss.

“I had a restless night, my love. I had the strangest dream. I was thinking of paying Eileen a visit today. I have the strangest feeling that I owe her a debt of thanks for, the reason seems to have escaped me but the feeling lingers.”

   “Whatever you wish, my love.” He kissed me again, this time I melted into his kiss and after that, all I could think of was my new life with him and the many years of love we had ahead of us.

It’s amazing what one seemingly random photo in a family album can accomplish.

November 18, 2021 12:55

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