Drama Fiction Happy

I am the first born daughter in a large Irish Catholic family. I'm also the middle child of six. Plus I'm an Irish twin. I know it all sounds a bit confusing but I swear its accurate. I have two older brothers (Shawn and Timothy) plus two younger sisters (Maureen and Kathleen) and Daniel is the youngest or as our mother refers to him her baby.

I still find this both strange and amusing especially now, that Danny is twenty three. My family is so much more than a family. We are extremely close and furiously protective of one another. Sundays are always spent at my parents home. Dinner is served between one and three and if all the grandchildren show up, we total nineteen.

My mother serves Corn beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes, pot roast and steaming sides of varying shades of green vegetables. My sisters and I arrive around eleven. We head straight for the kitchen, roll up our sleeves then get started peeling, boiling or measuring so our mom can take her coffee to the sunporch off the back of the large Colonial.

It'll still take a good ten minutes to coax her out of the room but eventually she will leave and enjoy her second cup in peace.

Maureen and I are extremely close. We were born just eleven and half months apart and shared the same room until I left for college. She is my Irish twin but she's also my best friend. If I need advice or I just need to vent, I can count on her to be there. We were both born in March. I'm the thirty first and Maureen is the twenty second. So every year when we were kids, our mom planned a joint party that was smack in the middle of both birthdays.

To tell you the truth I miss those parties sometimes.

She would invite half the neighborhood kids and bake us a big sheet cake that would always be decorated with purple(my favorite color) and blue( Maureen's favorite color)flowers. Our mother is the glue that holds our family together. She raised us to be kind but above all else we were to be honest. Lying was a cardinal sin and if any of us dared to lie to her, we would get the look. That look told us two things, first she was very disappointed with us and second, it would be quite some time before she trusted us again.


This Sunday is no different than all the others. I'm on potato duty. This may sound simple but there's a lot of us and we all love potatoes. My mother buys two five pounds bags every Friday and she will still wonder whether or not she has enough. Once I have peeled, chopped and gotten enough potatoes (to feed an army) in the two large pots of salted water, I go to find my Father. He will usually be in one of two places, the den watching television or the basement gathering folding chairs for the grandchildren.

I round the corner from the hallway to find him reclined in his favorite green chair.

"Ella. Your early."

He flashes me his most handsome smile. I walk towards him, lean down and kiss him on his cheek. He smiles again. I take the cushion closest to him on their blue and white checkered sofa.

"So how's everything? Did you see your doctor this week?"

He nods but continues to watch the TV screen.

"Dad, what did he say?"

"Not much. He wants me to watch my diet. He thinks my blood pressure is a little high. But its fine, He over reacts."

"Ok, what was it?"

"Um, one fifty five over ninety. But its not always that high. I don't want you to worry. How about you? How is work?"

"You better take your blood pressure seriously. I mean it. I'm good and my job is good. Do you know if Danny is coming today?"

He thinks before he responds.

"No, he called yesterday. He made plans with that new girlfriend of his. Its ok. And Chris where is he?"

"He had to help our neighbor, something in their garage. He should be here by two."

We hear the front door open and the sound of several voices carry into the den. My Father stands as two of his grandchildren run into the den. Becky and Sam (Kathleen's two youngest) leap onto the sofa and fight over the remote for the TV. My father looks from me to them and then shakes his head. I nod in agreement knowing he is hurt that the girls failed to greet him again. I hear my sisters asking where I am and I stand to leave. I tell my Dad I will talk with him later.


Three hours later, Shawn, Tim and Chris have started on seconds and my mother is asking everyone if they are ready for coffee. This Sundays dinner covers everything from our jobs, sports, the extremely high gas prices and the virus that has currently crippled our country. My Dad is vaccinated and tells the few of us that aren't we really need to reconsider. Shawn and Chris start to argue about who is more protected the vaccinated or the unvaccinated. Maureen looks at me from across the table and puts her two fingers up to her temple to display an invisible gun. I burst out laughing and almost knock over my glass.

When the dessert is on the table, the conversation turns to names and there origins. Every member of my family is named after someone. Shawn is my Dads name, Timothy is our Uncles, Maureen is after our mother, Kathleen is after our Aunt Kathy and Daniel was our Dads best friend. I pour coffee for my mother. She gently taps my hand. I smile at her and slice a piece of apple pie for my husband.

"You look tired Ella. Are you getting enough sleep?"

"Yeah, its just been crazy at work. Do you need anything else?"

"No, no sit down and relax."

I return to my chair. Tim mentions how I was almost named after my mother and its a story we have all heard before. The day I was born was no ordinary day in March. An unexpected blizzard hit Long Island and my parents got stuck on the way to the hospital. Our parents were frantic and worried that their baby would be born in their car. There were no other cars on the highway. Our Dad saw a bright light up ahead. He convinced our mother to accompany him so they could find a phone and call for help.

After a short walk they saw the source of the bright light, it was coming from a house that belonged to a very kind lady. She insisted they come in from the storm. Upon learning our mother was in labor, she immediately sprung into action. She helped our mom to the bed in the downstairs guest room and then called 911 for our father.

The snow continued to fall as the storm intensified. I was born an hour later right in this amazing lady's home. My parents were overjoyed. They waited another hour for the ambulance to arrive. On the way to the hospital my father said he would never forget how kind and generous Eleanor had been to them. My mother with tears in her eyes agreed.

"Shawn, I know we talked about naming a girl after me but I changed my mind. I want to name her after Eleanor so we never forget this day. I would like to call her Ella. Do you like it?"

He grinned.

"Yes I love it. Its perfect."

I look over at my parents and they are both smiling at me. And as we clean up and begin to say our goodbyes, I feel so blessed to be part of this big loving Irish family. And I always love to hear the story of the day I was born. The day I became Ella Ryan.

January 29, 2022 01:11

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Wilma Segeren
17:11 Feb 04, 2022

Joyce, what a lovely story. It sounds like it is non fiction to me and it made me wish I was Irish and a part of your loving family. It hit home for me. Kudos to a story well written!


Joyce Schook
18:52 Feb 06, 2022

Thank you Wilma. I'm half Irish and my sister and I are 11 months apart. My Dad's grandparents hosted Sunday dinners and I often heard my parents talk about it and I always wished I had been there. It was before I was born. Yr words meant alot. This is why I write because I hope I make someone happy or touch something inside them. Thank you again


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Judee Martin
02:54 Feb 04, 2022

This story was written in a way that the reader actually feels that they were there and knew everybody. I truly enjoyed reading it. Great story Joyce!


Joyce Schook
18:48 Feb 06, 2022

Oh Judee thank you very much. That is exactly how I wanted the reader to feel. Yr kind words mean so much to me.


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Cindy Calder
21:59 Feb 02, 2022

I enjoyed your story. It was lively, and I felt as though I knew many of the characters personally. Keep writing!


Joyce Schook
18:54 Feb 06, 2022

Cindy thank you very much. I wanted the family to seem like most loving ,big families do. I so happy that you liked it and enjoyed it. I was hoping for a win. But these comments are even better somehow.


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