Liam is 21 years old today. Liam Abbondio Cetti. My Irish/Italian son. His first name, Liam, derives from my father’s father, William Maher. With an Italian last name like Cetti, I had to make sure the Irish heritage was just as prevalent. Therefore, Liam became his first name. His middle name is after his paternal great grandfather, which is a story for another time. Great name, isn’t it? Liam Abbondio Cetti.
Today also marks the first anniversary of my dad, Denny Maher's passing. A few days after we brought Liam home , Dad sent me a newspaper clipping from the Boston Globe. On it was a photograph of lightning above the skyline of Santa Barbara the night Liam was born. He scrawled along the side, “Claire and Nate. This picture was in the Boston Globe on the day Liam was born. I have the feeling the good Lord was trying to tell us something. Love, Dad and Mom” Liam was Dad’s first grandchild and grandson. He ended up having 4 more grandsons and 2 granddaughters, all of whom he adored immensely.
My father then called Nate’s dad, Guido, (yes. that is actually his name), to congratulate him on his first grandson. See, Liam was Guido’s TENTH grandchild but FIRST grandson. “Well Guido, how about that? It took a nice Irish girl from Boston to get you your grandson. Congratulations!!”
The morning my father died, he had been in and out of clarity. At one point, when Dad wasn’t too clear, my mom and I were standing on either side of his bed, by his head, when Nate sent me an early am birthday photo of Liam. Being we were three hours ahead of Santa Barbara, Nate and the kids were just waking up and I hadn’t had the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to my son yet. I was thrilled to get the birthday picture and leaned over to show my mother his photo on my phone. I said, “Can you believe he’s 20 years old today??” We gushed and reminisced for a few minutes over Liam and how much we loved him and, really, what an amazing young man he was turning out to be. We remembered how mom used to sing to him when he was a baby and Dad loved to play with him. How he is passionate in all he does and follows his heart. Although Liam has these gorgeous green eyes, he not only looks like a Maher, he has the same kind, gentle soul as my father. As I was putting my phone back into my pocket, I looked down to see my dad’s big baby blues looking up at me. I smiled at him and he mouthed up to me, “It’s Liam’s birthday?” Very pleasantly surprised by this, I responded, “Yes! It is! He’s 20!” Dad replied, “I want to see the picture” Wow! He knew there was a picture of Liam! “Of course! Here, take a look” I pulled out my phone and showed him the photo. He gazed at it for a few minutes and looked back up at me,
“Tell him Happy Birthday and that I love him very much”
My whole being filled up at that very moment with both tears and gratitude and everything in between. Here he was, clear. Right here, right now. And he knew it was Liam’s birthday. It was one of the last things my father said that day. He died that night around 9:20pm
Whenever Dad visited Santa Barbara, his favorite place to go, hands down, was Brophy’s. We’d go have some “chowdah” and a beer and gaze out at the harbor and the Santa Barbara mountains and talk about how beautiful it was. I gave him a shirt from there, many years ago, and he wore until it was literally becoming tattered. So I bought him a new one. I would then hear when he was wearing the old Brophy’s shirt or the new one.
So, today is Liam’s 21st birthday and it’s my Dad’s first anniversary. Today, we are going to celebrate both Liam and the amazing man he has become as well as my father and the amazing man he was. We’ll go to Brophy’s and have some “chowdah” and a beer and I might even wear a Brophy’s shirt. I’ll make sure it’s a new one.