The Story: I have known Katy my entire life. She’s my first cousin, my oldest friend and the closest thing I ever had to a sister. We grew up together. We were our generation’s version of “the girls.”
When we were little, it was just the two of us. We have two older cousins, Trip and Josh, but they lived in Virginia. The four of us, plus my brother Ben, comprised “the big kids.” Then came my brother, Tim, and Katy’s sister Molly and then, in rapid succession, nine more cousins.
For the most part, while we were growing up, I was the bold one and Katy was the quiet one, but not always.
It was Katy who asked Papa to teach us how to make his famous fudge. (And it’s Katy who still has the recipe, too. Mine has long since been lost. Kate: I need another lesson and copy of the recipe please.)
When we were little, Papa went to Ireland at least once a year. For many years, he said he’d take us with him. When we were 7, he said he’d take us when we were 9. When we were 9, it was when we were 11, and so on. Finally, when we were 12, it was Katy that said to him, “you always say you’re going to take us when we’re older but you never do! When are you really going to take us to Ireland?” That’s when Papa decided to take us to Ireland when we were 13.
The trip was nearly a year in the planning and, from the start, Papa called it The Last Hurrah. This would be his last trip to Ireland and it was going to be a big one. Nana, who didn’t travel much, would come. As would their best friends, John and Fran McLaughlin (no relation). Plus Katy’s mom, Marcia, and our aunts Tricia and Rosie. It would be the trip of a lifetime. We would stay at castles and see the country and visit with family in Donegal.
It didn’t turn out quite that way, though.
We landed at Shannon Airport and spent a day touring the West Coast of Ireland, including the Cliffs of Moher, the beauty and magnitude of which simply can’t be described and take your breath away. At the end of the day, we checked into a hotel, the name of which I have long forgotten, and settled down to dinner. There was a piano in the restaurant, and the piano player was playing sing-alongs and old favorites. The Irish love to sing and, while I didn’t know a lot of the traditional Irish songs, I perked up when he played a Sinatra song I recognized – New York, New York, to be exact. When my grandfather saw I knew the song, he grabbed my hand and took me up to the microphone next to the piano and had me sing for everyone, at which point pretty much all the words to the song flew straight out of my head. It reigns as one of my most embarrassing moments ever, although it probably wasn’t nearly as bad as I think it was. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, though, so I’m sure it wasn’t the most memorable performance.
What was memorable, however, was how the night ended since my grandfather died of a heart attack about an hour after that. The rest of that night is a bit of a blur, as is the trip home and the next few days.
But this is a story about Katy and I so let me turn back to that.
Here’s another way Katy is bolder than me: during high school she used to throw parties when her parents went away. I’m sure I’m not spoiling any secrets here since she lived on the compound and I’m sure Uncle Mike watched all the cars come and go – even if they turned their headlights off.
I attended many of those parties in high school (and in college) but I never threw any of my own. I’m guessing it was partially because my parents never really went away and left us behind but also because I just never thought I could get away with it like she did.
Finally, the most amazing way that Katy is bolder than me is that, when she was 25, she took that one giant leap and married Jeff. A few years later they started a family. Those are a couple of pretty significant things that I have never done and which I believe take a huge amount of courage and faith to do.
So, let me amend my original statement: while Katy may indeed be quieter than me, she is certainly no less bold than me. She just demonstrates it in differently than I do, and that is super cool.
The Drink: This was a tough one and took us a couple glasses of wine to come up with! Katy and I have been friends our entire lives. There’s so much we could have chosen from. In the end, though, we chose the fudgesicle because, the entire time we were growing up, whenever you were at Nana’s, you could go into the back fridge, in the laundry room, and there would be at least one box of fudgesicles that you could help yourself to.