You’re Irish

Short run today, I was thinking about my heritage.

I have been asked to give the first reading at my father’s funeral mass. Tom McGough will give the second reading. The reading is a beautiful reading from the prophet Sirach. This is an honor that I shall cherish for the rest of my life. Irish men and women can be strong. In fact, my ancestors have endured hardships that make the Irish people some of the toughest on the planet. That history was taught to me by a high school teacher. You see I am an American who happens to have an Irish heritage. I am very proud of my heritage. That high school teacher, Frank Sullivan, obviously cherished his heritage and all of history for that matter. I remember a tremendous amount of what he taught but mostly I remember what he taught me about my Irish heritage. When I hear bagpipes I can be reminded of a gentle upbringing or a warlike past. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago not the hills and valleys of Ireland’s rugged landscape. Nevertheless, something has been planted within my DNA to react to the sound of bagpipes that echo across a lake or a field. From what I have read, our heritage was hard and sometimes brutal. At the same time that history was marked by generosity and beauty.  My ancestors were Irish and they were proud. Immense creativity can result from hardship. The music and the literature of the Irish people reflect this beauty and adversity all at the same time. Danny Boy will never see his mother again as he has gone off to fight someone’s war. Suburban Chicago is quite far removed from this reality but I retain the characteristics to survive whatever time or place that I was born into. I have often been reminded of my “Irish temper”. That characteristic has mellowed over the years but colleagues know that the specter remains. When I heard that my father had passed from this earth, I reminded myself of his, and my own, heritage. I immediately reached for my music and played songs with fiddle, fife and bagpipe. I immediately invoked an innate feeling that is connected to my genetic code. I feel this strongly. I was immediately immersed into a world that I never experienced first-hand but I feel a strong emotional bond. It was my father’s history, his father’s history and by proxy, my own history.

A very important part of that heritage is to always celebrate a life that is well-lived. So, we will celebrate the life of Jimmy Dolan. A man who continues to give good tidings through a legacy that will never die. My inheritance is great, I promise never to squander it.

Favorite song today, The Parting Glass performed by Liam O’Maonlai

James Patrick Dolan

James Patrick Dolan

Chicago Fun Run

Ran the Chicago Marathon today, I was thinking about deep dish pizza (a lot).

I never knew how fun this effort could be. I trained for the Chicago Marathon and learned why my Dad loved to run. The fun part involved finding out what Mom and Dad were trying to achieve all these years. Running brought Grumpy closer to his family. We joke that he was escaping something. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What he was trying to do was find an activity that was beneficial to himself and his whole family all at the same time. We relate to Grumpy and he relates to all of us in a large part through running. Writing these entries gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about Grumpy but also a lot about my own family. I am happier because of the interactions that this has brought with my family and our old and new friends. I finally figured out why Grumpy ran. I finished the marathon in under four hours and got a medal and a bag of ice. The Chicago Marathon is the best one I have run so far. Thanks to John and Cindy for hosting me during the run. And, of course, thanks Mom and Dad. I love you both!

I could not have done this without a tremendous amount of support from everyone who donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. For those who donated, you were part of a tremendous fundraising effort that was specific for the Chicago Marathon but goes well beyond the City of Chicago and raises money and awareness for Parkinson’s worldwide. Thank you very much for your generosity. A tremendous and special thanks goes out to my wife and son for supporting me in this effort and becoming my biggest fans. I love you both very much.

I assure you, I got to the finish eventually. Favorite song today, The Glory of True Love performed by John Prine (Chicago guy).

Chicago Marathon Finish

Chicago Marathon Finish

September 5, 2015

Recovery run today, I was thinking about football.

As mentioned in earlier posts, JPD is a Bears fan. In the sixties, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were plying their trade for the Monsters of the Midway. These players continue to inspire all young football players and young bear fans alike. When we moved to Mt. Prospect it did not take JPD long to sign us up for the Mt. Prospect Midget Football Association. Even in its acronym, the MPMFA, this league was grandiose. When JPD signed us all up for football, he must have stepped into the wrong line. While he might have thought he was in the line for helmets, he was actually in the line to sign up as a coach. That might have been why that line was so short. However it happened, JPD signed up to coach the Fighting Illini. This team was comprised of second and third graders, ages 7-8. Grumpy, the local butcher and another coach most believed had flown from another planet were the three coaches of the Illini. JPD was “all-in” on his duties and even got off of work a little early so he could coach our practice. As kids we were thrilled to don the football gear and run around with a football until we got to the first practice. I look back on this now and there would be three levels of training: Special Forces Training, Gurkha Warrior Training and the hardest of all, Fighting Illini football training. We ran, we hit and we barely survived coaching craziness. Up Folger’s hill, run around the Olympic size swimming pool. I was lucky enough to play middle-linebacker and don the precious number 51 (Dick Butkus was an All-American for the Illini too). One problem persisted, even though I was in the best shape of my short life, I did not like to hit people nor did I like to get hit by other people. This is like saying you want to be a doctor, but you don’t like to be around sick people. I think I drove the coaches crazy, but no matter, JPD was my biggest fan. I separated dad from the other coaches because his main concern was fun. Was I having a good time? As long as JPD was around, I was having a good time.

Another sunrise at Harper Lake. Favorite song today: Fly Me To the Moon performed by Frank Sinatra (Happy 100th Birthday!).

September Sunrise

September Sunrise