Although this shirt was given to me from a “One ‘l’ O’Neil” (thanks, Linda!) and is for a company that makes of wetsuits, drysuits, and sports clothing (http://www.oneill.com/), this blog will focus on a family I have known my whole life…think you can guess their name?
My Uncle Charley, “Auntie”, and two cousins have been there since I can remember. We have shared many birthdays, holidays, and Holy Days (like Sox Opening Day and Superbowl Sundays, did you think I meant church-related?). We have sung many Irish tunes together. We have laughed and cried together. Simply put, we have been part of a loving family together.
I will never forget the time my uncle helped me out of a jam. I had just gotten my driver’s license, and was following my friend Mike over to my cousin’s to watch Saturday Night Live (a weekly ritual for me and my high school friends). Mike took the turn onto my cousins’s street rather quickly, so I thought I should try and take it even more quickly than him (perfectly reasonable thought for a 16-year-old). The 1985 Duster I was driving was not up to the task, and the car quickly became part of the snow bank. My friend Matt and I tried desperately to rock the car back and forth (thank you Driver’s Ed) and out, but it was not budging. Only a few houses down, my uncle must have been out to “check the lawn” and heard the tires spinning and most likely my swearing. He made his way down the street and asked me what happened. I don’t remember what I told him exactly, but he very calmly said he would be back. He returned with a couple of shovels and we dug the car out. What followed was no lecture, no “you should know better”, or no “what were you thinking?”. He just smiled and said, “I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.” Friggin’ awesome.
My aunt, or “Auntie”, has really been like a second mother to me. She cooks my favorite meals, makes my favorite desserts, and never lets me leave without some leftovers. She has been there for me when something good has happened, and prayed for me through the tough times. She has listened, laughed, and cared. One “Auntie Story” that I love passing on happened when she was dating my uncle. They went to see Aerosmith play at Holy Cross, but my aunt said they were “too loud”, and left the show with my uncle. So of course the three times I have gone to an Aerosmith show (New Year’s at The Garden, 1994, Great Woods 2001, Great Woods 2006), I tease her and tell her I am bringing my ear plugs.
Although I have more siblings than first cousins, my two cousins have also provided me with everlasting memories. Growing up, my cousin Matt led in non-McGrath minutes played in McGrath Family Room Hockey (In addition to providing a key even number to the roster list). Matt was also a valuable teammate to my brother Tom for “Tackle Hoops”, a combination of Nerf Basketball and football we played in the hallway (Back then I was nearly double Matt and Tom’s size, they would put me in the hospital if we tried this game today). I will never forget the time Matt came to Fenway and told Mike Greenwell to “Hit one for this little read-head here.” My sister Megan was a huge “Gator” fan, and on the next pitch, Greenwell hit a grandslam.
One could argue my cousin Katie could be called “Saint Katie” for the amount of my devilishness she has put up with over the years. The first being when our grandfather left us in the car to go buy McDonald’s (apparently accepted behavior in the late 70s). I guess I could not wait for my burger and convinced Katie to walk with me across the parking lot and into Mickey D’s. Our grandfather was shocked and came running out to ask us what we were doing. I quickly turned on my cousin and replied, “It was Katie’s idea.”
Luckily for me, memories like this are being built upon every year. Whether it is my nephew yelling out female body parts during Mad Libs at my brother’s Christmas party, Apples to Apples hilarity on game night, or being at Mulligan’s for the Irish Session my uncle at Katie started, The O’Neill Clan is always there to share the moments and laughter with me. People sometimes ask me how I’ve gotten through some of the rougher patches in my life. I say that simply the most important thing in life (and the only thing that really matters) is the people you have in yours. Having supportive family and friends can really get you through anything, and the O’Neills have been a huge part of this for me. If you tell me to count my blessings, they are certainly part of the top of the list: 1. My family