“May Your Giving Hand Never Fail”

(in an Irish accent, imitating her Papa’s voice) “May your giving hand never fail.”

My Papa said this all the time and people didn’t really know what to do with it. I think he just said it to anyone who was generous, but like waitresses especially. So, they weren’t really being generous, they were just…doing their job.

I guess there was this one waitress, I wasn’t there this time, but she was like, “What’d you say?” and uh, my dad had to explain and she was like “I like that, I’m gonna start using it!”

I don’t know where he got it from, but he said it whenever he told me this story about this woman, and he describes her as a woman with a “good giving hand”.

So Papa, he was a Pace bus driver, so you know how they kind of have to stick to a schedule? Well this one day, it was the dead of winter, he saw this nun running after the bus and he just decided to wait for her. And she was flabbergasted he waited for her. And (in Irish accent again) he said, “Aw yeah, it’s too cold to be waitin’ for another bus” and she was so so thankful for him doing that that she ended up telling the hospital she worked at to let him have breakfast there everyday. He dropped her off and she said wait right here and ran in and I guess asked them and came out and told him to come for breakfast before his shift…  and so he did. For years, he just started his morning there everyday with free breakfast (laughs). She probably didn’t think he would actually take her up on it.

And every time he told it to me he would say “oh yes, she had a good giving hand”.

context of the performance:

The informant described this proverb and the following story in a one on one conversation, when asked if she had any family proverbs. She always does a very good Irish accent impression for her grandfather, who came to the United States from Ireland as an adult. He passed away a few months before this collection, so it was definitely a little nostalgic, as well.

thoughts on the performance:

It is always interesting how strangers respond to older people and their sayings, especially those with accents. It was hard to capture in writing, but when the informant described the waitresses reaction, she was sort of wary of her grandpa and almost rude in her response, until her dad clarified it for him. Especially the way the informant says it, in the vernacular of her grandfather, this proverb definitely sounds like a number of similar Irish blessings I have heard before.