Celebrating my Irish heritage today by remembering my maternal grandparents, James Britt Donovan and Mary McKenna Donovan, and my paternal grandmother Irene Carley Amorosi & Dr. Leo Amorosi (albeit the Italian branch!), as well as honoring my maternal great-grandparents, Dr. John Donovan & Harriett O’Connor Donovan, through the one picture I found of them and taking a trip through my family tree and all its glorious branches. Though I am actually more Irish than Italian, my surname is Italian and actually means love, so it is certainly an equal ingredient to who I am, which today is a being filled with love for my family and pride in my family tree.
That said, my Irish and Italian ingredients create the whole dish of being an American first and foremost. That my friends is what makes us all uniquely American. Celebrating where and who we came from is a journey that helps us to understand and learn our families’ histories-including their triumphs & accomplishments, mistakes & failures, personalities & dynamics. One of my favorite shows is “Finding Your Roots” on PBS, a weekly, hour-long show with Henry Louis Gates and notable individuals that brings them and us on a journey. These individuals are just like the rest of us: human beings thirsty for a deeper connection to their roots and to themselves. This show’s journey reveals things that these people never even knew about their own families, ultimately helping them to uncover a new lens into themselves.
Who we are is a life-long expedition of wondrous discovery and an evolution of the mind, body, and soul perpetuating and honoring family tradition, while also growing new branches and blooming new leaves that create new branches – for even those of us who do not have children, for those whose family includes friends, and most of all for those still searching for or without any family. It’s also an exercise into becoming open to always learning something new and being open to change. Perhaps it’s even to surrendering to any possible existence of shame, and instead transforming shame to gratitude for being given the opportunity of life to make our own uniquely individual impact on the world, while also being part of each, unique collective known as family.
The family tree is one grand force of nature, that on this day and all other days of the year, I cherish by doing my very best to water its branches each day to honor each and every member of my family today and yesterday. I also work to give this tree careful nourishment so that my leaf on it is as green as the ones who came before and green enough for those little blooms in our family today and for those yet to come, so that they are never thirsty for life’s nourishment: the love, life & pride in life through family and growing the family tree one way or another.
My family tree is mainly Irish, with a very healthy and zesty dose of Italian. But even I am curious to learn more and perhaps discover that there might be a still unknown ingredient. But the main dish is American: all-American and Born in the USA, and that is one flavorful dish that makes me and all of us uniquely American. Irish America Magazine and the Irish Examiner newspaper honored my grandfather, Cold War lawyer and negotiator James B. Donovan through wonderful articles, one of which I share here today as a showcase of the personification of the American Dream.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my Irish and Italian-American family, and to everyone. Here’s to celebrating your own, unique heritage, and most of all, our shared ideals as Americans who came from anywhere and everywhere to fulfill their own manifestation of the American dream.