If you ever ask yourself, What’s In A Name? For our family I’d have to say a lot. If it had not been for my last name, Jenn and I may never have met which would have decidedly put a completely different spin on our story.
It started when I introduced myself to Jenn’s brother Rich and he immediately said “Jenn you have to meet this guy, mom would love him”. I’m not going to kid myself and think this had anything to do with me being the best looking guy that night or even the most interesting. Rather it was because of my Irish last name.
The funny thing is that my family is a few generations removed while Jenn’s mother grew up in Ireland and still has a lot of family there. So in essence I am just a poser and she brings most of the heritage to our family.
When I first met Jenn’s family, I quickly earned the nickname “The Leprechaun” from her nieces and nephews. Although I have never heard a leprechaun that said “ya’ll”, the nickname stuck.
When Nolin was about 4 weeks old, we went to Pennsylvania and he met the nieces and nephews who embraced him just as quickly as they embraced me. One night as our youngest niece was holding Nolin she leaned over to Rich (a little concerned that Nolin may not have inherited my leprechaun genes), and quietly asked “Do you think he has just a little bit of Irish in him?”
We had a similar experience on the last night of our Honeymoon in Belize. Both stories have given us quite a laugh.
As we checked into the front desk of the hotel, the owner’s daughter excitedly said, “The O’Brien’s are here, we have been waiting for you!” At first we thought this was because they were excited that we were newlyweds. Then she said, “my friend wants to meet you”.
All of the sudden a very large Hispanic man walks out of the back…oh great this is one of those Lifetime movies my mom watches where the foreign vacation goes terribly wrong. In a loud, very boisterous voice he proudly proclaims “We’re brothers”. It seems our friend was also an O’Brien, and couldn’t wait to meet us. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out with him…my brother from another mother. It is one of our fondest memories of our Honeymoon.
This weekend, Nolin got to test his Irish roots as we attended the Winter Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was here that I realized that everyone has a little Irish in them. While it may not be in heritage, it seems everyone is Irish in spirit (at least around March).
Nolin got dressed up in his Kiss Me I’m Irish shirt and his Hanna Hat and I put on my Whose Your Paddy shirt and matching Hanna Hat. I can honestly say that Nolin had a blast at the parade. He enjoyed the spectacle of of it all as well as watching Jenn’s mother, aunt & uncle march with the Irish heritage group.
As Nolin grows up I hope that he will be as excited to embrace his Irish heritage as Jenn and I are to learn and teach him about the cultures of his birth parents. In our family it will be important for each of us to understand our histories and embrace all of the amazingly unique things that they offer.
As Saint Patrick’s Day approaches, we’ll all find our inner Irish. As I have learned throughout the years that the bonds created in name can be just as strong, so if the question ever came up again, I would simply answer “Of course he has a little Irish in him… after all he is as O’Brien!”