Eileen Dahill/Minnesota/N.America

No Wreath on the Marker

My father is buried (along with my Uncles from Belfast – Frank, John, and my mom’s best friend from Belfast Sally-from-Lady-Street) at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Last Sunday was a warm day by Minnesota Winter Standards and we were off to place a wreath on my dad’s marker. It is close to our house and we find it comforting to visit. Despite all the military restrictions, I am told by a reputable source, that deer come up from the Minnesota river nightly to feed on the grass near the markers regardless of military rank.

There are just a few phone calls I pull over to answer while driving and one is any communique from Mary L. She simply said, “I am meeting some nuns for breakfast.” A slow u-turn sends me back to the city because I know it’s Rita, Kate, Jane McDonald (biological sisters also) and Marguerite Corcoran. They are notorious for their wit, quick turn of the word, and good fun.

Polite Conversation

I believe in polite conversation over the Holidays. We are all seated at a “Denny’s” booth and I start out with the old chestnut of doubting AGAIN to the three of the four sisters of St. Joesph of Crandolet who live together (Kate, Rita, and Marguerite) the truthfulness in the statement that they have TWO cats. I have only seen ONE cat and I chide them saying they PRETEND to have two cats for extra ‘Meow-Mix rations’, more feline toy gifts, and general bragging rights. Rita darts me a sharp look and we veer off to other topics after my mom gives her famous cat-purr.

Jane, Brigid (not present), Kate, and Rita grew up on a dairy farm. They were four of eleven children and talked about their mother and growing up country. Thoughtful Marguerite only clarifies somewhat later in the conversation that potin is moonshine.

My table manners seem woefully inadequate amongst these careful diners. A pale eye is glanced at me by Kate as I knick a bit of my moms turkey sandwich off her plate. But it was Mary L. who asked the sisters if they would tell their Christmas tales of how they were arrested. All four have been arrested for non-violent demonstrations for peace and social justice issues. Each sister told their Christmas tale of being arrested. The hardest for me to hear was Kate. Kate did not want to miss work and ended up serving her time alone over the weekend.

Needless to say, our server’s eyes were like two brown orbs as each tale was recounted. At one point the lead cook came out to listen. The lunch ends abruptly as Mary L. has promised a grocery run to a friend who has arrived.

I know Marguerite had celebrated her 65 Jubilee in 2012. I suspect that at least one of her consorts are in their 90’s. But I did not ask because it was all polite conversation for their Christmas tales.