Proud Patrick


What makes a man run from the woman he loves? Told over forty years, this is the story of the six Sullivan siblings and what happened to their lives after their mother ran off with the butcher. Presented with death and suicide, Patrick and his brothers and sisters (in addition to 18 grandchildren) maintain themselves over a long Dublin week of celebration and sorrow with unsteady triumph acted out in comic routines, buoyed by wrought iron memories forged in pain. This is Proud Patrick's journey. From Chapter I She picks up the phone. Rosemary and Jenny, sniffling, quiet themselves, comfort themselves, reach out to hold Kevin and Larry. Kevin, though never beaten, cannot stop a hiccoughing kind of sobbing. Larry is wide-eyed witness to a world he never anticipated. Patrick hopes it’s Grandma Powers who is calling to say she is on her way to visit.
But it is one of Chicago’s Finest who wants to know if there’s a problem because a neighbor has reported screams coming from the Sullivan house. "Why no!" MomsourMom says in affable offense as if she’s been asked if she’s a relative of President Truman. “No, Officer, no trouble here. Certainly not.” She hangs up, then hangs her head. Her upturned palms limp on her knees. She begins to sob, her breasts, heavy with Larry’s milk, heave. Her tears make the children feel horrible. They are the miserable brats who have brought her, their MomsourMom, such piteous sorrow. The time of the great anger, they sense, has passed. The six supplicants advance to the goddess at the phone table. Larry, having recently learned how, crawls to her. They crowd as close as they dare for she could yet strike out. Rosemary holds MomsourMom’s vengeance arm while her other hand holds her own ankle. Where it still bleeds MomsourMom cries through splayed fingers: “See how you pig shit brats made the police call?” Patrick strokes her beautiful hair which had a smelly Toni perm done by her lady friend Evangeline just last week. He, as the oldest boy, knowing he should be brave, takes the lead and begs her not to cry. She blows her nose and sends the four oldest off with the command to get dressed again: "Do you think you can do that? One simple thing?" Upstairs they can hear her wailing sorrow, heaping damnation on them, and onto her life with Barnaby. Barnaby who has left her alone with six brats. Patrick’s heart breaks to hear the sorrow she bears. Rosemary gives Patrick an evil look: “Paddy, you caused all this.” “Horse manure,” Patrick whispers back. “I bet Dougie did it.” Dougie says: “Ish ka bibble. You’re all babies.” “Up your hole with a rubber hose.” From the bottom of the stairs, her wailing gives way to nasal warnings: “Wait till your father gets home because then you’re really going to get it, all of you. He will find the liar. So watch out if it’s you. Mister Smiling Face Sullivan. Little Miss Brown in the Pants.” But, at eight o’clock, when Barnaby arrives home (to pork chops slathered with mustard then simmered in Campbell’s chicken with rice soup), she is watching Perry Como croon like a shy virgin on the flippety floppety Motorola and never once does she mention the felonious invasion of her pink chalk pig. “Patrick, don’t be a dumb shit. Only remember the good times.” What Larry likes to say. “There were good times back then. Great old times.” Patrick long ago buried this scene. Banished and interred it. A family trait. The Sullivans of Whipple Street can laugh at just about anything..

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