May the luck of the Irish fall upon you! For me, St. Patrick's Day brings fond memories of a special blessing.
It begins with this story that I tell to at least one person every year out of respect, and in honor, of a gentle Irish man named Bob Chase of Baytown.
Many, many years ago, I had just started working as a reporter for the Baytown Sun, when this petite ball of energy popped into the newsroom dressed in green from head to toe! He started dancing around like a leprechaun and singing Irish ditties. He even had a bit of a real Irish accent. I was dumbfounded. What was going on? Is this man sane? But everyone was enjoying it and, frankly, I was quite entertained, too. When he left, I found out that it was a local named Bob Chase. Every year, he goes out to some places and does this just to bring a little joy to people. It worked, and I was a new fan.
During the year, I'd see him every once in a while, in his regular attire, usually doing some volunteer effort for his church. But when St. Patrick's Day rolled around again, there he was with his joyful routine, aglow with Irish blessings. He always ended his 5- to 10-minute performance with a tip of his green hat and one particular Irish blessing that wished us all well.
March was, once again, upon us. A week before St. Patrick's Day, his wife took the time to let people know that Bob was sick and in the hospital and wouldn't be coming by this year. But when St. Patrick's Day came, in popped Mr. Chase — this time with his wife helping his frail frame into the room and standing guard as her weak and sickly husband attempted his routine. Despite her efforts, she said he insisted. Sick or not, he would not skip this. His heart was in every move, even if his body — still dressed in green from head to toe — wasn't. He had our undivided attention and respect. I felt a profound admiration for Mr. Chase and was moved by the genuine beauty of his message from the heart, even this abbreviated version of his routine.
When his weak body was spent, and before his wife helped carry him out, he finished with the same Irish blessing he always left with us.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and,
until we meet again,
may God keep you in the palm of His hand.
The following day, I purchased a book of Irish blessings and had everyone sign it for Mr. Chase. His wife later called to say he loved it, and that it brought him great joy and meant a lot to him. I was glad we could bring him joy when he had given so much to us.
A few days later, he was gone. His wife came in to tell us. I learned that Mr. Chase's outreach didn't begin and end with St. Patrick's Day. Every Sunday, before going to church, himself, he would take his Bible and have fellowship with those in jail.
To this day, I find comfort when I remember Mr. Chase's friendly voice saying: "until we meet again, may God keep you in the palm of His hand." In the spirit of Mr. Chase, I have honored my vow to share that blessing and carry on the message of joy and fellowship that he felt was so important.