An Irish Romance

An Irish Romance

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 By Tracy O'Dwyer

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WELL AND TRULY MARRIED: Our sacramental marriage is symbolized by our very first Christmas ornament.

It’s Christmas again. Here I am, snug in Ireland, married to Liam, the man I love. But it was not always so.

The philosophy behind how Liam and I came together is something I think about a lot. Especially now during the Christmas season, as it has to do with knowing what is truly important. This is a hugely important part of who we are, how we met and how our success story evolved and came to be. We were – in our separate lives — preparing ourselves to become a better people for our future spouse.

Life is funny. Every decision you make — small or big, right or wrong – leads to exactly where you belong. You must have faith; as long as you do the right thing — even if it’s not popular — God will take care of your needs. You will see the greater picture when the time arrives to understand.

What does this mean? Simply this – if you are spending this Christmas alone and if you think you are ready now, you probably aren't, quite yet. Or maybe your future spouse is not yet ready.

It's all in God’s timing. Plain and simple. It's not on your clock at all. There is a right time, a right place and the right person. You could be 20, you could be 40 or you could be 60.

Liam and I both know this, because we have felt the hand of God preparing us for the day I stepped off the plane in Dublin.

If you are spending this Christmas alone and if you think you are ready now, you probably aren't, quite yet. Or maybe your future spouse is not yet ready.

Alone In the Windy City

In 2003, I had recently moved from Texas to Chicago, where I had no Catholic friends. My parish had no young adult group. Ditto, other parishes. Searching “Young Adult Catholic groups” on Google yielded dating websites. I wasn’t interested, but signed up for a free membership on Catholic Match anyway.

A few months later I found what I was looking for, in the most surprising of places — a community of Catholic friends all across the globe in the forums on Catholic Match. To this day, I remain friends with so many of these wonderful people.

IRISH WEDDING: Liam and I were married on The Feast of the Assumption of Mary, 2009.

But dating? Well, I knew I had to break my cycle of wrong relationships. I was a good person, doing the right things, but ended up disappointed, time after time. I knew it was the people I was choosing, but it took some time of personal discernment to realize that the common denominator in any relationship was me!

I had to begin again, this time asking God for His will for my life. (Asking God for His will is not asking for the things you want. Because we know that God will give you the things you need; your wants are completely different.) Without those light bulb moments and the ‘Ah ha’s’ it would have been more likely that Liam and I would have completely passed each other by.

I was over-the-moon happy, on my own, as a single mother, with an amazing daughter, supportive family, and the best group of friends one could ask for. I was happy home alone on a Saturday night; I was even happy when I had no date for Valentine’s Day. I didn't need someone else to make me happy.

I was amazed by the holiness of some of the incredible guys on Catholic Match. This helped me to create a picture of what a good, holy man looked like. This helped me prepare for my ‘Joseph,' my Liam.

I was amazed by the holiness of some of the incredible guys on Catholic Match. This helped me to create a picture of what a good, holy man looked like. This helped me prepare for my ‘Joseph,' my Liam.

Preparing for Marriage

We prepare for weddings, parenthood, sending our children to college.  We plan retirement and Christmas dinners. So why don't more people prepare themselves for their future spouses?

My advice for single people? Take the time now to prepare for one of your most important decisions. Prepare now to help you choose the right spouse. Spend the time working on yourself to be a better person.

All the while I was in Chicago, half a world away my future husband, Liam was taking care of his dying mother. He spent 23.5 hours by her bedside with only a 30 minute break to eat and do chores. Feeding, clothing, bathing his mother, while also taking care of his father.  He cooked, cleaned, scrubbed floors, did the laundry, the ironing, the grocery shopping.

This is the man who sacrificed his life during his prime — his wants, his needs — to care for another. He was preparing for his mother’s death and all along unbeknownst to him preparing for a spouse. How? By being a selfless person who knew exactly what it meant to give of himself, even under the worst circumstances and to put another person first.

 

This is the man who sacrificed his life during his prime — his wants, his needs — to care for another. He was preparing for his mother’s death and all along unbeknownst to him preparing for a spouse.

All the time I was busy with life, in nursing school, raising a young daughter on  my own and in personal discernment so I could be the best me I could be.

This is our TRUE success story. Little by little, we were becoming better people separately, day by day praying for one another, listening to God’s will and preparing ourselves step by step.

God knew He would bring us together, when the time was right.

August 27th 2008

That morning, I stumbled upon someone’s review of my Catholic Match profile; his name was Liam and he lived in Ireland.  Glorious travel photos, hilarious captions on photos of miniature donkeys in Ireland and his own little doggie ‘Oisin.’

Laughing out loud, I was charmed with his personality. Even though I wasn’t interested, for the first time in my life, I made the choice to send him an emote to him first.

The next morning it all began. A weeks-long series of email and then finally skyping. This also started our on-line game playing of checkers and backgammon, betting on who would win.

First, a trip to Rome, if I won. ( I lost.)
Then, a trip to Ireland, if I won. ( I won.)

The very next day, I had a ticket to Ireland with my name on it. And that’s how it came to be that I stepped off the plane in Dublin.

He was a perfect gentleman. We had a lovely time. I stayed in a charming hotel in Dublin, and saw all the sights. But it wasn’t until I darkened the door of an Irish old folks’ home that I knew.

After years of taking care of his father after his mother had died, Liam could no longer do it on his own.  With great pain, he’d brought Martin to a nearby old folks’ home.  And this is where it happened. The “You’ll just know moment.” That moment you look at someone and your mouth falls to the floor and you say.. “He's the One”.

I watched him take out his father’s night clothes and neatly fold them on the bed — which he’d made up for his dad, as he does every night. When I saw him put his arms lovingly around his dad’s shoulders, I got it.

This is a man, I saw, who puts others before himself. This is a man who will forever take care of someone regardless of sickness or health. I knew, that in good times and bad, Liam was capable and willing to put another first.

I watched him take out his father’s night clothes and neatly fold them on the bed — which he’d made up for his dad, as he does every night. When I saw him put his arms lovingly around his dad’s shoulders, I got it.

A Plane Ticket with My Name On It

I left Ireland on December 15th, not knowing if I'd see Liam again. I was sorta sad, but not too bothered. I am not the Cloud 9 type anyway.  I hadn't fallen in love, per se. He called while I was still on the plane.  He was sad as well. He wished me a safe flight.

Back in Chicago, we talked the next day. Liam asked me how I felt about how everything went. He said he didn't ask whilst I was there because he didn't want to put any pressure on me. He’d thought that ‘a good think about it’ would be good for me. And he was exactly right in doing so. It was mature and responsible and another way of putting himself on the back burner.

The next day Liam sent me another plane ticket to Ireland with my name on it. The flight was  leaving in just 6 days; I hadn’t even unpacked from the first trip. That began a series of transatlantic flights for me and my daughter – and my mom, too.

Liam flew my mother from NYC to Ireland so she could give him the once over.  Apparently he passed with flying colours. On March 12th 2009, after Easter Mass and our ham dinner, Liam got down on one knee at the dinner table in front of my mother, my daughter and his father.

Would I marry him?

Yes, I told him.  We were married four months later on August 15th 2009, on The Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

Two Completely Different Halves

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OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS IN IRELAND featured snow — a delightful surprise for Liam and my daughter.

Liam and I are complete opposites. Two completely different halves that come together beautifully to form an amazing whole. I don’t know how, it just works.

He’s left-brained and wicked smart with three degrees and post grad, and I’m right-brained — a ‘Jill of All Trades' who can make a five course meal out of string.

He’s a night owl; I’m an early bird.  He is kind and quiet; I’m kinda loud.  He rarely has a bad day; he throws me chocolate when I’m cranky.  He irons and makes the beds; I do laundry.  He loves the MALL; I hate the place.

 

He’s left-brained and wicked smart with three degrees and post grad, and I’m right-brained —a Jill of all trades who can make a five course meal out of string.

He thinks I’m a bad driver; I get car sick when he drives. He likes his bread buttered on each side; I won’t accept my sandwich unless it’s cut corner to corner.  He makes my coffee every morning; I make him cupcakes.  He’s usually always right; I usually think I’m always right.  He takes forever in the grocery store and buys items not on the list; I’m in and out and only get what I need.   He’s got the patience of a Saint; me,  not so much.   I love chocolate; he steals my chocolate.

He loves and adores me; I love and adore him. We are well and truly married.

Postscript

Four days before our first contact on Catholic Match, Liam had given up. He’d received a renewal notice and decided to cancel.

But God had other plans. Instead, Liam accidentally clicked ‘Renewal’ instead of ‘Cancel.’

Three days later, Liam found me.

Indeed, God works in strange and wonderful ways.

 

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