When my Dad passed last year I, almost immediately, had this REAL MEN project in mind. Stories of men that helped mold me.
Men of resolve and grit. Men like my father, my grandfather and his brothers and their sons.
The most daunting task was writing this chapter about the most powerful group of men in my world; The McCabes
The paternal side of my family tree makes me smile.
The McCabe men make me very proud.
Here is why…
The first McCabe man, Patrick, stepped foot on America’s soil in 1903 (thanks Jamie for the evidence). A proud and outlandish “Paddy”, Patrick was a railroad worker doing his very best for his children. Six boys and a girl (God bless you, Mary) fighting their way through the new world.
Great grandfather Patrick (who apparently went by “Pete”. Huh?) was, naturally a God-fearing and Protestant-hating Catholic. Apparently “Pete” would roam home on Friday nights after a long day and, with such built up anti-English anger, and punch out the pickets of his British neighbor’s fence. Of course, the other half of being a good Catholic is always feeling guilty, so Pat/Pete would wake up on Saturday morning with a slight hangover and insist his brood of boys fix the mistake he made just hours earlier.
The best part is…he performed this act of lunacy weekly.
Flash forward and the McCabe boys were off and running in America.
Firemen, clergy and funeral directors, the McCabe boys were making their mark in Lowell Massachusetts. Loyal Catholics and devout maniacs, these men were here to stay.
Eddie, my grandfather, was a certifiable whacko and the local undertaker. Kind to his core, Ed would fight the wind if he thought it blew in the wrong direction. When he wasn’t burying parishioners, you could find him yelling at my Dad or fishing. Good man. Scared me to death (see what I did there?)
Patrick, the baby of the clan, and the eventual deputy chief of the Lowell Fire Department was the true bad ass of the boys. The youngest, Pat was a wild man with the biggest heart and a bigger temper. Father of eight, Pat was the poster boy for the Irish American dream.
As for the rest, I hardly knew them. Priests and crazies I am told, but the McCabes had arrived by the middle of the 20th century.
Flash forward to our generation and I simply feel like a weakling in comparison. The OG McCabes, the off-the-boat McCabes…they were truly real men.
Legend has it my great grandfather punched out a horse on a $10 bet from the same English guy I referenced above. Really? I got a splinter a few weeks back and called in sick.
It doesn’t matter because, to be very candid, these type of men are extinct and just make me very proud be a part of their legacy.
They were not welcomed in this country.
They needed to forge their way and their future, like all immigrants.
“NO IRISH NEED APPLY”
Today, more than 100 years since the first McCabe arrived in this nation, I am so very proud to be a part of this lineage.
I am proud to be an Irish American.
I am proud of this family.
I am proud to be a McCabe.