This is a story that my father told me many times growing up and despite the fact that I am well into my thirties now, I can still remember the first time I heard it, sitting alongside him by the fireplace on a cold Winter evening, and listening with fascination. It is a tale of an extraordinary adventure that my father, even to the moment of his death—God rest his soul—claimed he had when he just a young boy. Much of this story you will probably think that he made it up; but as for me, I will always believe.
It begins with a visit from my Great-Uncle Patrick; I never met him, but know a great many things about him from my father’s countless stories. He lived in Ireland. Now my grandparents relocated to the United States when my father, Max McKee, was just an infant. They were poor, but generally content, a happily married set of parents that loved my father very much. He was their only child and they tried to give him everything that he needed.
But one thing that he longed for was to see his aunts and his uncles, his cousins and his grandparents, more often then he did. Because of their limited income, my grandparents were only able to visit their Irish relatives once every ten years. However, there was one uncle who came to visit them in the States once a year. Uncle Patrick. He was my father’s favorite uncle.
Every time he visited, Great-Uncle Patrick would bring my father a gift. Once, he brought him an Irish good-luck charm, and another time he brought a hand-made marionette. But on the eve of my father’s ninth birthday, my Great-Uncle came for his yearly visit and brought with him an extraordinary gift that brought an ancient Irish legend to life. This is my father’s story, at least the version he told me; this is the legend of all things unwanted.