Summertime for Kelly O'Meara - 1

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A Continuation of Irish Intersection

Two families – both filled with hope in the midst of upheaval and change. And two girls. One not so traditional; Glynnis was a tomboy in a way and a protector in every way. And another, even more unconventional young woman; Kelly was learning about just what it means, as someone once said, to thine own self be true. But after spending most of her life living as a boy, she’s still trying to find out just who her own self actually is. Both girls love their families and each other, but those loves will be sorely tested…..

Irish step dancing is entertaining, of course. And a form of cultural expression and heritage. But for some, the competitions become more than a way of life. To that end, the Davidson family has spent the last several years investing time and energy in the considerable talent of their younger daughter Maggie. That expenditure nearly cost the family everything; the older daughter Glynnis neglected and even almost an outcast as her father Cam made it all about Maggie’s dancing; alienating both girls and his wife Nancy in the process.

And the O’Meara family – Kevin Sr. was unable to see what his late wife had been saying all along; that they shared parenthood of a daughter and not a son. A child forced to deny self as well for the sake of the dance; all for the pride and honor of her father.

Both families forced to come to grips with life as it is instead of how the parents envisioned and hoped it would be. But the Davidsons fortunes turned in a moment as Cameron Davidson finally realized how horribly he had treated all of his family for the sake of being well-regarded. And the O’Mearas finally no longer holding on to unrealistic expectations as Kevin decided it was more important to love the daughter with whom he had been blessed.

But... As another old saying goes, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ Old habits, even those willingly set on the altar of sacrifice, still have a habit of climbing off the table to insert themselves in the midst of well-meant attempts to change, as both families are about to discover….

Previously – From Irish Intersection, at Kelly's cousin's home...

“Can I see….her?” Kevin O'Meara stood in the doorway; almost looking for a reason to retreat.

The first steps in the right direction can be painfully accusative since we often take too many steps in the wrong direction first. But Kevin O’Meara’s first new steps were accompanied by a realization that it was better to be ashamed and admit his failure than to be proud and alone. He began to cry; the first time Fiona and Tommy could remember him crying since Heather’s death. And Kelly could hardly ever remember her father feeling sorry for anything. She stood up slowly.

“Dad?” The girl practically whispered as the word seemed to be almost muted. He raised his head and looked over at the daughter he never understood but in a way always knew he had. And Fiona was right; the girl was so much like her mother. Kev shook his head and went to reach for the front door but Moira grabbed his arm…..

Moira literally shoved him toward Kelly; the girl had stepped up and was almost hiding behind Fiona. She pulled her around and walked her over to Kev. The two stood face to face for only a few seconds before Kevin broke down; putting his hand in front of his face as he wept. Kelly held back; he’d been sorry before, and she’d invested too much time letting her guard down. But something in his face changed all that as she saw that it really wasn’t the man she had always known, but an entirely new man; broken and ashamed and frightened and finally grateful. She walked the rest of the way and pulled him into an awkward hug; it almost seemed that each was consoling the other, and that was likely right.

The O’Meara home, early Spring…

“I’m sorry, Dad.” Kelly put her head down and looked over at the front door. The morning would be the start of a long day but never again as long as it had been in the past.

“You….” Kevin O’Meara practically glared at his only child but quickly softened.

“It’s okay…”

“No it’s not. This means a lot to you. I’m sorry.” She felt his disappointment; an almost tangible cloud hanging over the whole house. Nothing prevented her from resuming dancing. She was talented even if she had changed teams so to speak. But truth be told; she had never been herself as a dancer, much less a person, when she was Kevin instead of Kelly.

And in those times when she would forget who she was and where she was, music that gave wings to Kevin’s feet now transformed her into a dancing angel. Where precision once reigned she now knew grace and peace. But to do that in front of others after such a long absence and such a remarkable transformation?

“Look,” Kevin said to the girl with a half-smile,

“There’s nothing you can say that can change things.” Kelly frowned at the words. Kevin shook his head; quickly rising from the couch and walking over to her.

“No…. Sorry.” He echoed. He lifted his daughter out of the rocker by the hearth and held her at arms’ length; more of a sign of affection than you might surmise.

“I’m sorry. Nothing you can say can change the fact that I was wrong about you. And that’s only for starters.” He paused and gazed into eyes which mirrored his own sadness while resembling her late mother’s tenderness and grace.

“I wanted a son; there’s no getting around that. But…. I wanted a son who did…. A son who performed. Just like I did for my dad and him for his….” He shook his head and frowned at himself.

“But yeah….” He smiled at his daughter. His daughter.

“I don’t blame you if you never dance again. Something that was supposed to be fun nearly destroyed you… I nearly destroyed you.”

“No, Dad…don’t say that.”

“Sorry, Kelly….” He seemed to draw strength and solace at the mention of her name.

“It got in the way of who you are. And kept me from seeing who I was supposed to be. God rest her soul…your mother knew who you were. And now I know.” He pulled her into a hug; less awkward than the one before which was less awkward than the ones before that, so to speak.

“I’m sorry, Kelly. You’ll dance if and when you want, but you have to know that I finally figured out how to love you for whoyou are. “ She began to sob in his arms. As much as they had grown in the past two years, it only kept getting better as she realized just how precious she was in her father’s eyes.

The Davidson home, that same week…

“Cam?” Nancy called from the kitchen; sounding very upset. Cam bounded up the stairs from the basement.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” He ran up to her and she raised her hand; halting him in mid-stride.

“This….” She held up an empty bottle of Scotch.

“We agreed that you might have days where things didn’t go well and that you could….” She held the bottle out and frowned.

“I said that I’d try to understand…. But hiding it under the sink behind the bottles of cleaner.”


“I don’t want to talk about it, Cam. Maybe you should give your sponsor a call. I’m going to Stop & Shop to pick up some coffee and something for dinner. Will you be home?” She lowered her head slightly before walking to the counter to grab the car keys and her purse.

“Yes,” Cam said meekly as Nancy walked out; leaving him alone to wonder what just had happened.

Casa Mia Pizzeria Pastaria, later that afternoon…

The waitress had just walked away from the table in the corner. Glynnis walked in and got her attention.

“Hi, Miss Karen. How’s my girl?” Karen shook her head and frowned.

“She could really use some company. She’s been sitting over there for almost an hour and hasn’t touched her food.” Karen stepped close and hugged the girl and patted her on the arm before gently nudging the girl toward Kelly.

“You okay?” Glynnis sat down and patted Kelly’s shoulder; she’d been sitting by herself with her head down. Kelly looked up; her eyes red from crying.

“Jimmy Santiago….” She shook her head and looked away.

“Oh, fuck…sorry. Mom has been trying to get me to stop….” She rubbed Kelly’s back.

“We’ve known each other since kindergarten…you know? Like forever…” Her voice trailed off.

“I…. I wish I could say I know what you’re going through. I’ve…” She squeezed Kelly’s hand with as much support she could muster.

“Since….when we stayed…. You know….”

“Together? Is that so bad, Glyn….“ Kelly put her head down.

“Oh no…damn…. I mean some of my girlfriends’ parents won’t …. Because….I don’t care, but that’s what happened.

“Because I’m a freak… what was it that Mr. Carraldo said in class the other day about …you know… the albino tiger? Anomaly… “ She stifled a sob.

“I… some of them were pissed off when they figured out you had been…. Kevin, you know? You and me.”

“Oh… “ Kelly said; her head resting against Glynnis’ arm

“And some of them didn’t know that and just got angry anyway…because I’m a girl and they thought you were too.”

“Thanks a lot, Glyn,” Kelly half-sobbed.

“That’s them, Kelly. I know this is who you are…who you’ve always been. It just feels like mo matter what we they hate us.”

“I…I know.”

“No, Kelly, you don’t. Because none of those girls meant anything to me or my family and I still have friends who always supported me and you when they learned. And that’s just it. I have people who care. Jimmy was your best friend for so long. It probably feels worse than when your Dad didn’t believe.” It might have felt odd, but Glynnis continued.

“Your Dad didn’t know how to love you… just like my Dad didn’t know how to love me and Maggie and Mom. But he tried and he still is trying. My dad is still trying. Jimmy isn’t trying at all.

“It’s not ….”

“Fair?” Glynnis paused and shook her head in self-correction.

“No, it’s not, and it hurts so bad… Like it’ll never get better since your Dad never tried to hurt you even when he… like my Dad never tried to hurt us. Jimmy is getting his friends to be mean to you…oh fuck.” Glynnis wiped tears from her own eyes and patted Kelly on the back.

“I should just go back to the way things were…it’s all my fault.” Kelly’s voice was barely above a whisper from all the crying she’d been doing throughout the day.

“Stop it! Damn it, Kel…. You didn’t do anything wrong. What you did was finally be yourself. It’s all on your Dad …. He got angry. He drank. He yelled at you. He hurt you. Oh fuck…” The girl’s cheeks grew hot and red; evenly divided between the embarrassment of her words and the anger she felt over her girlfriend’s needless guilty.

“I used to think the same thing. If only I’d been a better daughter, Daddy wouldn’t drink. If only…. I had been a better daughter, Daddy would love me…. Oh fuck…” She rolled her eyes in frustration.

“Daddy drinks because Daddy is an alcoholic. Daddy gets angry because it’s always about him…” She paused. She didn’t want to make it about her, and she wanted to say something positive to Kelly.

“Daddy is getting help and Mommy is … she’s been leaving Al-Anon stuff out where I can find it. I have my therapist, and I really don’t want to go to a meeting and put all my family’s stuff out there. But I do get it… One day at a time. We’re gonna get through this…. One day at a time.” As she spoke the waitress had come up to the table. She stood silently for a few moments before speaking.

“I’m sorry… I couldn’t help overhear.” She used a glance around the near-empty restaurant to allay any fear the girls might have.

“I’ve been sober for seven years, hon. I know what you’re going through. My Dad started it and I nearly finished it, so I’m glad to hear you’re getting help. You’ll make it, girls.” She stooped down to table level and looked Kelly in the eyes.

“I’ve known you since you and your Mom and Dad started coming in here. You’re a girl. Maybe nobody knew back then….” She stopped abruptly and shook her head.

“Your Mom knew… she barely said a word, but something in the way she looked at you and how she would speak. I don’t think your Dad knew at all.” Kelly winced.

“But he knows now, and I’m sure he’s trying to understand. It’s like falling down after a few steps, but getting back up and moving forward. He’s gonna make mistakes, but he’s trying.” She would have kept it at that, but Glynnis looked as if she felt left out. Karen reached over and squeezed her hand.

“I’ve known your Dad since High School. He’s a different man now. Your Mom, too. You and Maggie have had it hard for so long, and I bet it looked like things would never get better but they are… little by little, honey.”

It was almost too much to take in to begin with, but it got worse. The front door opened and Jimmy Santiago stepped up to the counter with one of his friends. It would have been almost easier to take had he said something mean, but the two just paid for the pizza and walked out without a word. Kelly bit her lip, trying hard not to cry but the permission given by Karen’s kiss to her forehead sent her over the needed emotional brink and she sobbed as her head and shoulders shook in the embrace of her girlfriend.

“Shhhhh….. shhhh, baby girl,” Karen said in sympathy, but even the words evoked more pain, since the only other person to utter that endearment was her mother, and she’d never hear that voice again this side of heaven. Nevertheless, Karen continued as she included Glynnis, stroking her hair with one hand while rubbing Kelly’s back.

“Little by little…”

Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, that evening…

“So how are you, Cam?” the tall graying blond-haired man said as he sat down in the row of chairs in front of Cam.

“Getting there?” His comment evoked a soft laugh from the man; Colin Patterson by name, but no one would be using last names that night.

“All we can do is what we can do. But it’s figuring out what we’re capable of that’s the hard part. And I know you’re capable of doing what needs being done. So why the glum face, Boyo?” Colin had been in the states for nearly thirty years, but nothing really ever shook the Kerry out of him so to speak.

“Nancy found a half-empty bottle… Scotch. At first I wasn’t able to take it all in. I was so hurt. She didn’t yell, but she was so fucking angry she wouldn’t hear me. I figured it was an old bottle I missed when I took inventory when I was getting rid of everything.”

“And it wasn’t?”

“No… because I never drink Dewars.”

“Hmmm…sounds like someone else has a problem.” It almost sounded unsympathetic but for the look in Colin’s eyes.

“Well it’s not Nancy. She might have …you know the whole co-dependent shit…. But she can’t drink without getting ill.”

“So it’s gotta be one of your girls…or both?”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. Maggie’s got a good head on her shoulders, so it’s gotta be Glynnis. She’s always been the one with the problem.”

“Aye, Cam, but didn’t you tell me where some of that comes from?” Colin shook his head and Cam half-frowned.

“It’s all my fault.”

“It is and it isn’t, Cam… but you knew that, right?”

“Yes…. Oh fuck… If I had been a better father to them…”

“I thought this was about Glynnis? But it’s all about you? And maybe a wee bit about the baby of the family?”

“What should I do, Colin?”

“You know I’m not one for giving advice, but I will say your best bet is to take this gently. You know…how everyone handled the other drinker in the family?” He hadn’t meant it to be condemning and he quickly added,

“I’m one to talk. Thankfully I’ve got people who believe in me…you know? That whole redemption thing?”

“Bring it out in the open, but first talk to your bride. Be honest with her. Don’t defend the past, but don’t be hanging your hat on it either. Let her vent if you have to but when you’re both done you’ve got some talking to do with your girls okay?”

Cam nodded and smiled. He heard what Colin was saying.

“How long before you went back and how the hell did you get them to let you return?”

“The forgiveness came right away. The collar came back when they realized I meant business. Of course it helps to come here rather than Port Jervis but my folks know my history and they’re okay with it.” He smiled again; the warm feeling of acceptance lit up his eyes and flashed the same to Cam.

“Well, it’s show time,” he said with a soft laugh. Father Colin Patterson rose from his seat and walked to the front of the rows of chairs.

“Good Evening. I’m Colin…. And I’m an alcoholic.”

The O’Meara home, late that night…

Kelly stood in front of her dresser; staring at the image in the mirror. Her mirror twin looked out of place and embarrassed even if Kelly was glad to view her true self. But what…who was really true?

The girl in the mirror looked nervous; it was the first time she had worn the outfit. A Kelly green velvet dance dress, which stretched irony to its limits. Dark green tights coupled with plain black flats and the dark red dancer’s wig her mother wore at that age. Kelly sighed.

The girl in the mirror sighed back and frowned in disapproval.

“Who am I trying to kid?” Kelly pulled off the wig and let it drop to the floor. A few minutes later she was dressed in shorts and a maroon tee shirt. Her barely grown-out hair still looked better suited for her old self, as painfully frustrating as that was.

“I….” She would have said ‘I hate myself,’ but her sobs got in the way. And the sentiment still held fast as she fell onto the bed and cried herself to sleep…

To be continued...

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