Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy Birthday O Carolan!

Carolan giving Linda a birthday present. Brian Homan on left (July 6, 2013).
Our wonderful daughter Carolan Ruth turned 28 yesterday. That hardly seems possible because Linda and I hold the memories of her birth and her childhood so fresh in our hearts.

The story of her birth seems almost mythological in our family (I am admittedly one of the chief mythologizers). It was July 14th and we were ready for this baby to be born. I love names and had been thinking about all sorts of possibilities. If the baby were to be a boy, I thought about "Giovanni Francesco," which was the name of St. Francis of Assisi, my favorite saint. The English version of that would be "John Francis," the name of my Grampa FitzPatrick, who died when I was one year old in 1949. I didn't think we would have another girl, but if we did I thought about the name "Carmen." To me it was a great name for a dark-featured beauty (our first child, Julia, had dark complexion, dark brown hair, and brown eyes--"Black Irish," we figured). Also, this baby was due around the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th. "Carmen" was close to "Carmel." Also in mind was an Irish singer I had heard on television years before, Carmel Quinn. I always liked her name. So this baby might get the moniker "Carmen."

When Linda started into labor on July 14th, we headed to Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, some 45 miles from our home in Berea, KY. To our astonishment (after our first child we felt like old pros!), the labor didn't progress and the doctors sent us home. This was a little discouraging. The next evening, the labor began again and this time we were pretty sure so we packed up and headed to Central Baptist again. We arrived there around midnight. Linda was in serious labor quickly. Somewhere around 4 in the morning, the doctors spotted meconium and they went into what seemed to us a panic. Their seriousness--the sudden change from relaxed joking and talk to serious work--scared us. They wheeled Linda in her hospital birthing room bed directly into what seemed to be an operating room. Then things happened fast! And a little baby girl was born around 4:30 in the morning on July 16th, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. But as we looked at this new baby, we knew right away this was no "Carmen." This kid had pale skin and red hair (that stuck straight up!). You couldn't find a kid who looked less like her older sister. We would have to rethink this baby's name.

The next day someone congratulated us on the birth of "Carmen." I had to tell her that this new person's name was not going to be Carmen. Her name would be "Carolan Ruth Sanders Coughlin." "Ruth" was her maternal grandmother's name. "Sanders" was her mother's surname. And "Carolan" was the name of the great Irish harp player and composer who lived from 1670 to 1738. O'Carolan was a blind harper and composer of some of the greatest, most timeless tunes ever created (my favorite being "Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór").

Very shortly after Carolan was born, she was put into Linda's arms. Linda, who had no medicine, no anesthetic for the birth, was wide awake and full of energy. Linda wanted to call her family and friends and tell of the wonderful news. I had to tell her that no one else in the world was awake yet and that we'd have to wait a couple hours before spreading the word.#

Carolan is a happy kid, very bright, a hell of a lot of fun. She shares her joy with everyone, family and friends alike. She reminds me of Kenny Przybylski in that regard. We thank the Lord for Carolan!

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