Blood Oath

After Mom died, the light never returned in my Dad’s eyes. A light that had been so powerful and so present. This came home to me as I wandered through family photos to create the video for his memorial. Yet I also had the opportunity to reflect on the light of his soul. A light that was never extinguished. A light he carried home with him.

While he had English ancestors, Dad was most connected with his Irish roots. And the light of his soul was absolutely Irish. The laughter and joy. The music and poetry. The love for and devotion to family and community. All aspects rooted firmly in our Irish heritage.

Honoring a sacred obligation, especially to family and community, was a very serious matter for our Irish ancestors. In fact, it is from their strong devotion to honoring these obligations that we inherit the concept of a blood oath. It was the tradition that when the heart bloodIrish made a very solemn league, they would ratify it by drinking a drop of each other’s blood, mixed with water. It was a sacred bond.

Dad and I never drank each other’s blood. Perhaps it was enough that we were of the same blood. But after Mom died we did enter into a sacred bond. We claimed our elder positions in the family and our shared responsibility to carry on the values he and Mom so cherished. Values of joy. Of education and learning, honesty and integrity, community and family. And more.

When Dad died there were many of the family gathered. And after the necessary business of obituaries, memorial arrangements, and clearing out his room, I took the family on a hike up a nearby butte. It was time to breathe. Time to sit with Dad and listen for what he would ask of us. What he would want us to carry forward from him. For me, it was a return to and reaffirmation of that sacred bond he and I had forged many years before. A renewal of that blood oath.

Judith –