Today is my father-in-law's 102nd birthday, or it would have been had he survived. John "Chauncy" Kiernan was a natural nobleman, a dignified, witty man whose charm and honesty was evident to everyone who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. More than three decades have passed since he did and still I can see the twinkle in his eye and the slow smile as he waited for me to process his latest bon mot. He loved honor, country and family. God alone knows what order to put those in. He loved his daughters and I suspect that he even loved me for loving his oldest girl.
I miss him.
His family came from County Leitrim, one of the poorest counties in Ireland and settled in Old Lyme, CT. They worked hard, they loved their dram and they loved the telling of stories and I only wish that I could have been there when my wife's grandfather, John and his four sons, "Chauncy", "Charlie", "Denny", and "Joe" were in the mood to drink and spin yarns. I only met Chauncy and Charlie but both enriched my life.
Tonight, in lieu of a cake, my wife and I told a couple of Irish jokes and lifted a glass of Jameson to the memory of Chauncy. If he'll forgive the Scottish toast ...
"Here's to us. Who's like us? Damn few and they're all dead."