By Jeff Tolman
My granddaughter was less than a month old. Across the table were four golfers from Galway, Ireland, sharing an after-round libation and solving, through the filters of two nations, the problems of the world.
“I need a Gaelic word,” I said. “A beautiful Irish word that tells my new granddaughter how much I love her. I’ll bet your ancient language has a lot better words than English to express such deep emotion.”
Immediately the lads broke into a foreign language, speaking quickly, discussing loudly, their conversation making no sense to the English-trained ears on the sides of my head. Finally, my new friend Garrick wrote on a card “Mo Chara” and “Mo Chroi.”
“The English pronunciation of the word is ‘ma-kree,’ ” he said. “It means ‘our hearts beat together.’ You should sign your letters to her and finish your visits with the wee one always telling her ‘Machrie.’ ”
Machrie. Our hearts beat together. What a gorgeous, personal, touching word and phrase.
Most of us know the concept and have experienced it. How great it would have been to know the word earlier in my life. I knew the feeling. I just didn’t have the perfect word to convey it. Machrie.
How appropriate it would have been to add to my cracking voice as I asked, “Will you marry me? Machrie.”
Those nights as I rocked my firstborn, who wasn’t a big fan of sleep, after the four hundredth verse of “House at Pooh Corner.” To say, “I love you, Chris. Machrie. It’s time to sleep.” And later to my second son, Andy, as I held him close.
How appropriate it would have been to add as I said my last words to each son as we hugged before they got married. My heart and theirs were beating together. As father and son, as men, as grooms, and then, as husbands. Machrie.
But there have been other times in my life when I felt I had a joined heart. With Bob Jungert and Rick Guenther, my high school friends and teammates, those early mornings when we opened the gym to practice at 6 a.m., dreaming together of making it to the state basketball tournament (as we did!).
With my law school roommate, joined together initially by the fear of failure, then working together for three years to learn a profession that would capture our energy, attention and effort for (now) more than three decades.
Sharing daily life with my law partners as we grew together from our 20s to 60s as businessmen and advocates.
And 32 years later, nearly everyday living with my wife.
I have a friend who is constantly looking for the “Pow!” in life. Perhaps we are saying the same thing. His description is just more dramatic than mine. There is great “Pow!” when two hearts beat together. Whether they are two people in love, teammates, business partners, a parent and child, or a grandparent trying to express his love to an infant who, already, has him hopelessly wrapped around her tiny finger.
May the quiet Pow! of two hearts beating together warm your soul and fill your memories often. Machrie.
— Jeff Tolman is a lawyer, judge, and periodic guest columnist for the North Kitsap Herald.