Well, first let me just say that for the first time I have a pretty good idea that I am as Irish as I had thought. My mother came from Scotland, but her parents were Irish. My dad's mother was a Callaghan, but his father made us wonder...he was a Norris. Surrounding the Norris name (relatives of my grandfather) was more Irish names, but Norris is often English.
I know there were Norris's hundreds of years ago in Ireland, but you just never know....
So I was very interested in a genetic test that my sister had performed. As I understand it, Irish genes are somehow very distinct and if you Irish, the tests show Irish. And the results show that we are 91% Irish, and over 8% from the UK and a smidgen of other. Off hand, I'd say that's pretty Irish.
I have never been one of those people who don't like their own race or ethnicity or feel compelled to be someone with many different ancestors from different corners of the world. I have never felt compelled to be "diverse." At the same time, I have shared a lot of experiences that others from different ethnicities have in common with my family. If you are a Frank McCourt fan, you know that his diverse students in New York could often identify with his upbringing--they could relate to the stories. As Frank wrote, students used to say, "tell us another story, teach."
The Irish poor, were pretty poor! If you came from a poor Irish family you know your experiences may strike a cord with poor blacks, Hispanics, and others. Irish stories often include family stories of alcoholism. Bad temper, but also good humor may be part of the Irish family story. Being Irish may also lead to relatives who can really craft a good story or play a tune.
I love being Irish, but growing old in today's world can also give you a healthy appreciation of the gifts of other cultures. Each ethnicity illustrates good things found in others. And I've come to appreciate others who are making new strains.
I spent a week with my grandson last week who is mix of many races. He is my grandson but not by blood, but I can tell you I love him as much as if he is by blood. I used to look at a child like him and say that he has a little bit of this and a little bit if that. And maybe you can still do that, but I like to think that he is wholly something new. A couple of my daughters who live at home, love this little boy as much as they can love him. And I suppose, we all know that the bits of ethnicity make up his image. If we took any little piece away, he would not be the same. So I am happy with his ethnicity and happy with mine.
We have another grandchild who is half Korean and half European. Again, I take no credit for this child's ethnicity. But we can not love this child enough. She is just a baby and likes to stare at me as I walk by her. There might have been a time when I looked forward to a number of Irish grandchildren, but that day left a long time ago. I would love Irish grandchildren if we got them, but so far we are blessed with diversity and I could not be happier. But its not a diversity that is born out of wishing and hoping, it's born out of living.
I think the secret is to not take your ethnicity as a the great standard setter and appreciate you family as it extends and where it extends.