After two days of rain, the sun was shining on Benbulben at last.
’Twas a beautiful Irish morning, a momentous one for me and my sweetheart.
Sherri Manring just didn’t know it yet.
We had come to Benbulben, a fabled mountain in County Sligo, to scatter my mother’s ashes last August.
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Sligo is her ancestral home, and we had journeyed there six times before she passed in 2008.
We loved Benbulben, gazing at it for hours and taking pictures.
It is the resting place of W.B. Yeats, the beloved Irish poet, buried in nearby Drumcliffe.
It is also the haunt, legend has it, of Celtic spirits like the giant Finn McCool.
Mom’s spirit was about to join them.
After making our way up a muddy mountain path, I stopped, said a prayer and began to fling her ashes about.
Then something wonderful happened.
A strong breeze arose, carrying the ashes away as I tossed them into the air.
Benbulben’s spirits were alive.
My mother’s, too.
Then I offered up a toast to her, tossing a shot of Irish whiskey into the wind.
Then I turned to Sherri.
The moment had come.
I told her how much this mountain had meant to my mother and I.
I wanted it to mean the same to us.
Dropping on one knee, I pulled a box from my back pocket and showed her the diamond ring.
It was one of those moments in life when time truly stands still.
So much so I forgot to pop the question.
Sherri began to cry, slipped the ring on her finger and put her arms around me as I stood.
“Aren’t you supposed to ask me to marry you?” she said.
“Yes,” I said, laughing as we embraced on Benbulben’s slopes.
Sherri will tell you it didn’t happen exactly like that, but she also said if the proposal had been perfect, it wouldn’t have been us.
Aware of my plans the night before, my cousin, Bernie Mullen, said as we left his Sligo home:
“We’ll never look at Benbulben the same way again.”
Neither will Sherri and I.
Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee Count. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.