• I guess today we'd call them old maids.

    Never married. Perhaps, when they were alive, always hoping. Never happened.

    They worked hard — very hard — for little money — very little money.

    They were sisters and they were close.

    They were Irish and they were my aunts: Molly and Bridie.

    Gone now, but this St. Patrick's time of year, I always think of them now.

    Their wonderful Irish brogue. Their love of that darn parade and their self-effacing humor.

    I'll never forget my Aunt Molly saying of my ample cranium — you see, even as a kid, I had to deal with this big noggin' thing.

    "What a fine head, Neil," she'd say. "Let's hope there are some brains in it."

    When my Irish mom introduced her Italian suitor, word was my Aunt Bridie said something like, "Look what the cat dragged in."

    Then they got him a cup of tea and they talked.

    And soon, they got to like him, this quaint Italian fellow.

    They watched this pairing grow and soon me and my sisters and brother grow too.

    They chronicled each milestone: each birthday, each graduation, each triumph.

    Each time, telling us we were special. But we were not better.

    Aunt Bridie used to say you could tell the measure of a man by how he acts around those who cannot help him. My mom pounded the same theme.

    "'Tis all right you have a big head, Neil," Aunt Molly would say. "Just as long as your heart is bigger."

    Wee little Irish truths from long gone Irish maids, meant for more than just Irish folk.

    May your Saint Patty's Day bring you many blessings, even if you're not remotely Irish at all.

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