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| Chapter 1. Phone Call
It was a normal January morning in Pinellas County, Florida. The voice from the radio filtered through the beach house and broke the
weather report, “And it’s another sunny but chilly one folks expect a high today up in the sixties the low tonight in the low fifties.” The January
highs in Scotland where she was raised scarcely made it above twenty and that was in the full rush of day! Bridget Ann Flynn laughed out loud
at the notion of it. She had seen thirty-nine Januarys come and then go. While some brought chills to her skin others brought chills to her
heart. She formed that thought and then dismissed it. This was her day off a dreamy warm day where she would allow herself the indulgence
of solitude. Clearing away the breakfast dishes she settled down for a little tranquility with her thoughts and notebook. Maybe I can finish that
story I’ve been working on.
Now, Bridget had always been a dreamer and a wanderer, born to Irish parents in the industrial West of Scotland. She was a conflicted spirit
torn between her mother’s strong intellectual tendencies and her father’s equally strong creativity. She was the middle child; there were five.
As a child she wandered and got lost many times but never had she wandered so far nor for so long. That thought both scared and excited
her. By eleven o’clock she was lost again but in her own world where she embraced the empty page of her imagination. She committed those
wisps from deep within the confines of her soul onto the lined paper from Wal-Mart ...and still they come, licking their wounds, the ravaged and
torn amongst us who gravitate towards the beach ...where they writhe and wriggle amidst the wreckage of loss ...washed up like driftwood on
Bridget knew this to be true since that was exactly the reason she wound up living there. On another January morning, some years before,
divorce had torn its hideous name across her heart. Compelled to live a masquerade inside her broken marriage, she had struggled for many
years to keep it all together. But motherhood had come early to Bridget Ann Flynn. She recognized its generous beauty when, at the tender
age of nineteen, she held her first-born son. When she held his tiny hand inside her hand she felt his heart inside her own. By the time she
was twenty-one, her second son had come along. Bridget wrote, ...I was afraid to fall asleep at night in case I would awaken to find it all a
dream. I could have died right there and gone to my young grave in full knowledge of joy and bliss. Whole lifetimes are spent in vacant pursuit
of these bounteous treasures but the ransom I paid was somber.
With heavy thoughts circling around her, she picked up her pencil and notebook, and escaped from their nagging presence into the kitchen. Is
every thought measured and weighed by angels or God or somebody before it gets distributed she wondered, spooning the coffee granules
and watching them fall in slow motion into the filter. Maybe we are only given the thoughts that we are able to process. From across the room
the phone rang out in a shrill. It startled her. The familiar voice of her third brother’s wife said, “Bridget, your brother Patrick’s been in an
accident. He’s got severe head injuries. He’s being moved to the Intensive Care Unit this afternoon. Here's the number to phone the hospital
for more information.”
Bridget grabbed her notebook but her pencil was blunt. She leaned on it heavily to impress the number between the lines then suddenly, the
call was over. Shock washed through her she felt sick. She glanced at the clock, it was already afternoon in Scotland. She looked around the
room to check if anything had changed but everything appeared the same. High above the house, an unexpected gust blew through tall palms
taking her gaze up and out through jalousie windows where the sky beamed in perfect blue. It can’t be true ...it can’t. Bridget's eyes searched
across the endless sky as she called the number with trepidation and waited.
“This is staff nurse Nolan” a male voice boomed.“
“Uh! Hello, I’m calling to inquire about Patrick Flynn. I'm Bridget, his sister.”
“Oh yes,” he replied, “are you the other sister, the one in America?”
“Yes ...yes I am.”
“Well it would be a good idea to make tentative travel arrangements at this point.”
Silence stuck in her throat like a dry rag.
“You are able to come over aren’t you? ...hello!”
“Yes!” she blurted out finding her voice at last.
“We may know more in the next thirty-six or seventy-two hours, so if you keep in touch with us we’ll be able to advise you when you should
“Th...thank-you,” stumbled across her tongue.
Travel? Why would I want to travel, there must be some mistake, she argued with her own thoughts hanging up the phone. There must be
another Patrick Flynn in there. Our Patrick isn’t going anywhere. It must be somebody else. The hard plastic rattled together on the counter,
the sound of it echoing through her isolation. Bridget would have been no more shocked had Staff Nurse Nolan reached through the phone
from Edinburgh and slapped her across the face. Denial and dismay momentarily jousted in her head, then lanced her heart. As she sunk
down into it, Bridget's lazy chair hugged her trembling form.
Sophie had always been a sensitive wee dog, especially to the emotions of her master, and this day was no different. She licked and licked
working her little tongue in an effort to wipe up the now constant stream of tears flowing down Bridget’s face. “Please God help us!” In a total
daze, she ruffled Sophie's hair and smoothed it back over and over again as she struggled to grasp the magnitude of that moment. The
thought of her family, broken by this news and grappling to understand the fast moving events already unfolding, tore through her. Money was
tight she would have to use what little funds she had set aside for emergencies. “Oh God! This is an emergency,” she uttered aloud as this
thought sprang up amidst the jumble of knotted rags in her head making the situation all the more real. Two months previously, she had
moved into that beach house and spent all of her savings on the down payment. A huge gamble but it would all be worth it when they came to
visit her, she thought. This was to be a kind of gateway for them to a better life. But what about Patrick? What now? That plan lay in tatters
at her feet. Their last phone call came rushing in when Patrick said, “But I’ll never see you again.”
“That’s crazy! The world’s not flat you know! You can come and visit me later, when I get settled.”
Did he know back then that this day was coming? “Please God don’t make this real.” Some time passed before a random surge of courage
raised her up onto her feet and back on the phone to get a plane ticket. Later that evening she packed some things in a bag but by eleven
her brain moved with the mobility of mashed potatoes. This is one trip no one ever wants to plan for, she thought, turning out the bedside
lamp. Light from a candle she had lit by the phone flickered in and out through the door gap, hypnotizing her. From somewhere deep inside
her soul came the thought, as long as that flame burns Patrick’s flame will burn also. Her eye lids finally came together shutting out the
Early next morning frantic preparations were made. A bewildered Sophie looked up at her master from the strong arms of a neighbor. Bridget
smiled at her wee dog and ruffled her hair one more time. She planted a kiss on Sophie's head, she swallowed hard. Summoning all of her
courage, Bridget broke out of her comfort zone and took off for Tampa Airport not knowing what lay ahead. The old station wagon chugged
along at what seemed like a snail’s pace. Luckily, she found a vacant spot just inside the parking garage close to the elevator. Carried along
by the inertia rising up in her gut Bridget unloaded her bags and barged ahead cutting a path through busy travelers toward ticketing and
departure. Inside terminal A, the line at the desk slowed to a stop. Nobody was moving. Bridget fussed with her passport, tickets, and flight
“Is this the line for Boston?” she finally blurted out.
“That flight is about to taxi out!” a loud voice bellowed from behind the desk as all-heck broke loose!
This was real alright and Bridget awoke from her trance. A uniformed airport employee grabbed her case and hurried her through check-in. A
clerk stamped papers and shoved a boarding pass into her hand. Bridget ran along blue and red checkered carpet toward the gate.
Suddenly, almost panicked, she glanced back, but the chaos behind her was gone!
Chapter 2. Journey
High up in the clouds Bridget felt heaven’s clock ticking. Patrick's in God’s hands now, she thought. Perhaps he always has been; perhaps
we all are. Maybe what they taught us in St Mary's school was right after all. Whatever God had planned for Patrick, Bridget prayed, “please
God keep him safe until I get there. Maybe I can make a difference.” In no time, or so it seemed, she made the connection at Logan Airport
Boston. Then wrapped in the familiar welcome of an Irish airline, Bridget prepared for the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean and across
her emotional abyss. All through the night the plane hurried through the dark sky as Bridget dreamed of happy days from her childhood.
Scenes from the never-ending summers spent in Donegal played out in her head. Auntie Bridie, her mother’s older sister, had returned to
Ireland and married a Donegal man. She taught school there while her husband harnessed the old farm.
Auntie Bridie chose to teach children and all those who were in her immediate vicinity with the stick and carrot method. Alas, the carrots were
reserved strictly for the horses. She was a powerful influence on the young Bridget who bore her name and at times her wrath. Truth is she
scared the bejabbers out of Bridget with her prudish disposition and staunch superior ways. Bridget believed that all teachers possessed these
qualities, “must be a requirement for the job,” she had concluded many years ago. Auntie Bridie often spoke of Bridget to her mother, “that
one will never amount to anything, sure, there’s too much nonsense in her head.” Even now, Bridget vividly recalls the sour taste of her Aunt’s
disappointment in her. For unlike the old dear the child had always been more of a dreamer. I wish she hadn’t been such a frosty-faced crust
...may God rest her soul! Okay, I didn’t meet her standards but surely we are made to higher specifications than mere mortal ones. Anyway,
she told her self turning in the cabin seat and pulling up on the edge of the in-flight blanket, my tongue may not be as sharp as herself’s but
my pencil sure as heck is!
The five Flynn children were immune to the taunts of this stern matriarch. They took their lead from their own dear mother Cait. After all Cait
had married a dreamer and a gentle rogue in Paddy Flynn. He had a touch of the devil in him alright but with the charm of an angel. When he
sang a tune he plucked the heart right out of a person and entranced the very birds in the trees. Back then Bridget imagined that those
summers would last forever. On the farm and by the ocean they played until the cows came home. Bridget wondered if at any time during that
era a tiny fragment of the United States had broken off, dissolved in the water and floated towards her in the vast Atlantic Ocean in which she
played as a child. Maybe it had been absorbed by her skin in Bundoran Bay and lay dormant inside her body. Years later, after her divorce, it
was activated like a homing beacon drawing her to shelter from her storm.
Once more Bridget's thoughts settled on Patrick. He was the oldest and gifted with their father Paddy’s wicked sense of humor. His simple wit
had them all in regular fits of laughter. The boys were the musicians of the family, Patrick and Matthew played guitar and Joseph played
keyboards. The girls were taught Irish Dancing. Back in the old days Bridget felt it to be much more of an obligatory chore than a poetic
expression. She almost had to have her arms tied to her side in the disciplines of the Irish Step. Her free spirit longed to float and flutter in the
freedom of a Celtic fiddle. Caitlin, her wee sister, was a pretty little blond and a cute wee thing but she had a touch of the devil in her also.
She was always ready with the threat “I’m telling on you!” She could even slant her eyes and mouth the words from across the room exercising
her power over the three older ones. Consequently Bridget developed a protective quality to her nature and chose solitude as a place to freely
exhibit her innermost feelings. Once safe, in her secret place, she vowed to keep her dreams and her visions to her self. Cait dressed her
girls the same just in case Bridget wandered off and got lost, as she usually did. Cait could hold out Caitlin in a crowd and say, “Have you
seen one like this but with dark hair?”
Back then the air was clean, the future was bright, and the bonds of love in that family would never be broken. Those long summer evenings
in Donegal reverberated with music from the kitchen and from the parlor. One minute fiddles and horns delivered structures to the ears as
delicate as lace, then in the next the old house rocked with the full ruckus of a ceilidh band reminiscent of and as rambunctious as the old bull
at a gate! Bridget and Caitlin Flynn with a scattering of first and second cousins scurried to keep up with the tempo being set by the old folks.
They stamped and tapped their little hearts out in a pulsating display of their heritage on the bare wooden floorboards of the upstairs parlor.
Soon, those familiar sounds and senses of a Donegal summer faded away as this huge silver bird, a Boeing 747, touched down at Shannon,
Ireland. Sleepy travelers disembarked like mesmerized soldiers from the belly of the great Trojan Horse as Bridget looked out through the small
cabin window. The sun was rising as fast as the desires in her heart. Not long now; only one more stop in Dublin then onward to Glasgow
where her second brother Joe would greet her. Then I'll know for sure, please God don’t let it be real, she prayed. Twenty hours into her
journey and weary from it she traveled on. The flight from Dublin to Glasgow took a much lower altitude and was flown in a smaller plane than
the one on the transatlantic leg. Consequently, the turbulence sometimes caused the plane to duck and dive all over the sky. Frequent fliers
on this flight affectionately named it the “vomit comet!” In the pit of her stomach Bridget knew why. Another hour passed before she saw her
homeland stretched out below her; a rugged ridge of bonnie purple mountains that rose and fell from sea to shiny sea. Scotland ...my home...
my own folk ...I’m safe now. The words formed in her head then wrapped around her warming her Celtic soul.
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