The Strangely Unmistaken Story of a Mistakingly Unintended Meeting.
The other day, in the midst of the bleak Irish mid-winter, with the soft eiderdown mist of an East Cork morning dropping lazily out of a gun-barrel grey blanket of a uninterrupted leaden sky, it was so cold that my 104 year-old dad (Matthew) made me put on his Russian-styled beehive of a balaclava head-covering hat, suitably embroidered with the harp insignia, and his all-weather flying jacket, suitably lined with lambs’ wool, and which he always wore when he went to the local hamlet for shopping on a winter’s day.
Upon seeing me walking out the door, his delightfully friendly and conversant Irish housekeeper said, "Well, now, you look just like the way your Dad used to dress when he went to town every Christmas-time for the last 30 years or so."
Being quick to please and slow to chide, I embraced her remark like a friendly father-son embrace, and lightly and brightly stepped out into the damp, decaying dawn into the newly enlightening twilight of an increasingly-progressing winter’s day.
So I went into town (dressed like my Dad) and immediately and spontaneously a fella crosses over the road towards me and asks, "Matt, is that you?" – obviously believing he is addressing my Dad.
So I reply, "Yes, it is," pretending to be my Dad, and the fella says, "My, you do look well," and I reply, "Well, I don't feel so well," and his eyes light up and he says, "Well, then, you are Matt Crowley for sure, as that's the very thing he would say!"
Not waiting for any explanation, and without any chagrin, the fella now says, "My, but you do look great," and I reply, "Well, I don't feel so great," and again, his eyes light up and he says, “Well, you are Matt Crowley for sure, as that's the very thing he would say!"
Then, delving into the depths of his deepening memory recesses of many years of knowing my Father, and his rapidly-clamoring brain self-informing him that my dad had passed his 100th birthday some years ago, the fella then politely asks and respectfully states, "I thought you died a long time ago," and I reply (again, pretending to being my father), "Well, I did die, but I did not get a free pass to Heaven as the Archangel that I was assigned to told me I would have to do further penance.”
“Ah, well, now,” says the fella, “that’s a very strange story,” and, expecting a very strange ending, he encourages me to continue.
“Well, now,” says I (now pretending to be my suddenly-deceased gather), “Well, the Archangel further explained to me that it was of the opinion of his consulting overseer Saint Peter that, 'Although the Irish were too good for the Earth below, they were not quite good enough to enter Heaven above,' and so an extra penance was levied on them."
"And what was that, then?" asks the fella, to which I replied, "Well, my penance was to return to Earth and personally have to live with my own kids for another 5 years," says I, as succinctly as possible.
“And why was that?" asks the fella, now rumbling and tumbling into his own aura of questioning incredibility….
“Well, it was explained to me that then and only then would I understand the true meaning on Earth of real pain and real suffering."
"That's it! 'Tis very true," says the now-suddenly and independently departing fella, processing this new information like a paper-shredder stuck in mid-shredding, his glowing face now wrestling with this new futuristic incomprehension. Taking a step backwards, he slowly dissolved into the greying background of the busy street, stepping carefully into the enveloping mist of his own obscurity, shaking his head, and then, like a new day dawning off the shimmering river Blackwater, and suddenly self-piercing his own cloud of unknowing, he suddenly breaks into a smiling caricature of himself, delightedly glowing with a new incandescence, his comprehension without further mention, and he departed decidedly and deliriously out of the un-mistakenly marvelous egalitarian experience of his own creation….