It was thirty-three years ago today that my wife and I arrived in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with our then two children. Our drive had really started four days before when we loaded what little we owned out of our apartment in Logan, Utah onto a moving van and drove south to meet my parents in Orem, Utah. That was at my sister-in-law’s home where we said our goodbyes to my parents and they wondered when they might see us or their grand-children again.
From Orem, Laura and I drove eastward, leaving the Rocky Mountains behind us and travelling across the Great Plains in our Volkswagen Rabbit toward a life we could only hope would save us. Three days and a lot of freeway later, we drove into Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It was St. Patrick’s Day … and we arrived in a snowstorm.
We brought our small children into the hotel room TSR had reserved for us. We did not yet have an address for the moving van that was somewhere behind us on the road. Being St. Patrick’s Day, ‘The Quiet Man’ with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara was playing on the television. I went out that evening in search of food that I could bring back for my family since we didn’t have enough money to afford the hotel restaurant. I found Su Wing’s — a Chinese Restaurant — and brought back their take-out. I picked up a box of Hostess Ding-Dongs at the local store for desert. We told our children the foil-wrapped Ding-dongs were ‘Blarney Stones’: kissing each one and laughing before we opened them.
Ever since then, we have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Chinese food. The Ding-dongs are no longer wrapped in foil but we kiss them before eating them all the same.
We do this each year to remind ourselves that desperate times — and we were oh, so desperate then — require hope in a new and brighter tomorrow. It was on that long road between the life we left behind and the hope we had for the future that Dragonlance was born and we couldn’t see then how it would save us. We only could hope that we would be saved.
Laura and I just got back from having a Chinese lunch. My Ding-dong is sitting here on the desk in front of me. Times have gotten hard again but I’m reminded today that there is hope in a brighter tomorrow.
So I kiss my sweet blarney stone … and smile.