I now have a title I did not want, at least not for a very long time yet.
I am “Himself”.
You probably said or thought, “What that hell does that mean?” Fair question, if one is not Irish or even of Irish descent. Actually, if I recall from my father and mother correctly, I’m a bit-o-Irish / English / German, meaning I should always be fighting with myself. But, I find that a nice stiff shot of something strong and distilled makes all three parts happy and relaxed.
For years my father explained how he himself became “Himself” (yeah I know—doesn’t sound grammatically correct). He’s always told me that he’d become “Himself” in our family-line when he became the eldest age of any male in the lineage. Well, he did indeed achieve that goal last year on his 82nd birthday.
I’ve spent my entire life attempting to make my father proud of me—I admit that now (although it has always been a personal secret). Dad served 30 years 13 days in the United States Navy; when I add up all my time as a motor route carrier, intern reporter, and manager at my local newspaper, I worked a total of 30 years 245 days (there were breaks for college and working at two other jobs between being a carrier and being a manager). Like father like son…
I’ve always wanted to write stories with hopes of becoming published, dreaming of the day when someone would actually write a newspaper article about me. Dad always said to keep working at it and it will become reality. That was Dad with all his sons: supportive. It didn’t matter whatever it was, he had our backs at all times. A year after joining the “retired community” my partner Cyndi and I presented him with the first copy of our first book and autographed it to him in person in his house. The look in his eyes told me that was the day he was the most proud of me. I’d achieved a lifetime’s dream, and we’d dedicated that first book to both our fathers. (Admittedly, I tried many, many times over the decades to write that book, but it wasn’t until Cyndi and I teamed up that it actually happened; we are a perfect writing team!)
Even with this new writing career quickly developing (four books now written, three short stories, and founders of a new annual local literary festival), my life’s dreams were fulfilled. Dad and I did, however, had one mantra constantly going: “I don’t know how many more years I’ve got in me,” he would say, to which I always replied, “You keep adding them on, give me the ultimate goal for my own life”.
Sadly, now, I know that goal. Commander John H. Gannon, Medical Service Corps, United States Navy–Retired, left to join our Lord and my mother on August 6, 2014, after 83 years and 174 days. In order to pass his achievement (which, for the males in our family, was one hell of an achievement), I have to live to February 12, 2045. By Dad’s definition, however, I don’t become “Himself” until February 13, 2045.
But, according to varied online sources, the true definition of an Irishman as “Himself” is when he is the head of the family or head of the household. In either of these definitions, I am “Himself” now, as I’m the eldest of his two natural sons (I being the elder by 3 years and 137 days) within our family line. So, in true Irish definition, I am “Himself” now… but I won’t truly feel “Himself” until I also beat Dad’s goal and I wake up on February 13, 2045.
What actually brought up this whole dissertation, anyway? My younger brother gave me two items Dad had ordered for himself (no pun intended, promise!) and had just received… but never got to use: a stein-shaped coffee mug and a shot glass, both labeled “Himself”.
So, Dad, I will use these in your memory. You were truly “Himself” in the grandest sense of the word, and I will never be your equal.
But I’m gonna give it my best shot…!