My birthday was August 30th and it's a banner year for me so I thought I should do something special. When I was four, we moved to Spain from Tacoma, Washington. Things didn't go well for us and my grandfather, my mom's dad, threw my dad out of the country. Long story end of marriage.
We ended up moving to Philadelphia to live with and around family. Grandpa had moved his family to Tacoma back in the 40s from Brooklyn. Mom picked up a new husband in Philly whom I never liked.
One day when she broke the news to us that she was going to marry him, we would have a new dad. I was still wondering what happened to the old dad and I don't know what my slightly older sister was thinking. Our mom was putting a happy spin on this marriage but at five years of age I begged her not to marry him. Something that proved to be prescient in time and she would grow to agree with. I had seen a side to him she hadn't yet seen although of her four husbands, he ended up lasting the longest. They remained married even after they mostly and permanently separated about thirteen years ago.
Suddenly we had a new baby and along with my older sister and new dad we moved back to the dreaded Tacoma with these new parts of the family. I wasn't happy. I had lost my dad, got a new one I didn't like, and a baby who was sucking up all the attention that used to be mine.
It wasn't long before my apprehensions about the new guy started to make themself clear. Still after having married my older brother's dad (who lived with his dad after a contentious divorce) and divorced him, then my older sister's dad and divorcing him, then my dad, then the new guy (in 1960), whom she divorced briefly for a year then remarried not once more but several times throughout their stormy relationship until he died about a year ago.
Mom always loved Liz and Richard Burton. Dick and Liz, my parents were not though there were some similarities.
In my lifetime I've been to Hawaii twice. First in 1978 with my first wife, then again in 1988 with my second wife. In 1998 I mentioned going there to my third wife yet for some reason she would have nothing to do with it.
I grew up with my family visiting Canada a lot as Tacoma is so close to Vancouver, British Columbia, though mostly we took the ferry to Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island located in the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
Our Grandfather whom I mentioned before was my mother's father. He had traveled the world and after he retired would take the family on short day trips sometimes. We would take the ferry Princess Marguerite from Seattle to Victoria, and would get a cabin for the older folks to rest in. I have fond memories of those trips and visiting around Victoria and the world famous Empress Hotel which had hosted royalty and presidents.
In high school, I used to drive with friends up to Vancouver, BC to party. The pubs in Gas Town were the desired locations to try and get into even though I was around seventeen. I once got into the Gas Town Pub. My friend and I walked up to the counter and got very odd looks from the bartender. The guy on the door had stepped away and so we stepped in. I asked the bartender where the restroom was. He said that it's next door in the Gas Town Hotel.
I was incredulous but he convinced us it was true and I really had to go. So we went. When we got next door an old guy sitting at the desk was reading a paper. I said I needed to use their restroom and that the bartender had said they used theirs but he gave me a look similar to the bartender's and kicked us out. We went back to the pub but couldn't get back in. End of that party. However, we then discovered Third Beach at Stanley Park by just stopping people on the street and asking where the party was. But that's a story for another time and I suspect I've already told that story.
After I got married the last time we would travel sometimes because of her work training horses. Many interesting times back in the 1990s until we divorced in 2002.
Earlier this year my twenty-three year old daughter convinced me I should do something special for this birthday. My birthday is August 30th. My mother was born on that birthday of mine. I'd joked with her many times that God had planned for me, she was an accident. When in reality I think I was actually the accident.
My daughter had travelled Europe with a back pack several times. I along with her friend's parents had sent them for a high school graduation gift to Paris. I think she had got bitten by the travel bug. But then she had grown up with her mother and I travelling with her to horse shows for her mom's work. It was in her blood.
She backpacked with her accordion and hoola hoop, busking around Europe, making money to pay her way. She ended up in Iceland and loving it. Greece during the riots several years ago. Living in caves in Spain. But always returning to Iceland
When she first mentioned the Ireland trip, I was hesitant, but I wanted to go. See, I've been to Mexico a few times, Canada more times that I remember and Hawaii twice, all over the United States. But only one trip out of country and off the continent, to Spain as a child.
And that didn't go well for me at all. In fact when we were living in country the local cantina owner in Roda, Spain was always yelling, "Malo Nino!" (bad boy) at me for some reason. Reasons I'm sure I deserved. I'd deserved them in America, there was really no reason I would not deserve them in another country.
We have 8mm film of our life in Spain and later in Philadelphia. There is one of a banner of shamrocks hanging from our ceiling. My new dad was in that footage. The banner said "Erin Go Bragh!" Roughly, Ireland forever! He didn't much care for it. He always said he was English by ancestry and my dad was Irish. So you could see how it could be annoying to a new guy.
Now I'm getting to the Irish stuff.
So I grew up with that banner and the situation, always in the back of my mind. I would ask my mother about it growing up and she would just say that my dad's family was Irish. I was Irish. Though my mother's family was Czechoslovakian, I got tired of that part of my ancestry and the Irish side was just more flamboyant to me I'm sure.
In the late 1960s I heard a lot about the Irish "Troubles". By high school I started paying close attention to the news about Ireland. I was quite against what was going on there. People were dying. It seemed to me that England should mind its own business. If Ireland wanted them out, it should leave.
Of course there were other issues but the Protestant and Catholic ones were at the forefront. Reasonably many Loyalists wanted to remain a part of England, of the UK.