Mary is A Woman of Great Faith, A Daughter, A Sister, A Wife, A Mother, A Godmother, A Grandmother, A Friend
Born in April, 1927 in Saint Joseph's Hospital, St.Paul
She grew up in Excelsior, Minnesota on College Lake where one of her lifelong regrets about her childhood was that she did not learn to swim .. And now I know why I can't swim.
Her strong Faith has been a thread in her life since very early on .. she writes that she remembers being taken to Church for the first time when she was 4 or 5 .... and that it was a quiet place where you couldn't talk. As I recall, she got me to be quiet in church by pinching me in just the right spot on the back of my arm.
She attended Excelsior High School where she developed an interest in writing and served on the school paper.She also applied for and was accepted to a summer internship program in Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago . she writes that she travelled alone by train to Chicago and loved every minute of it.
As a freshman at the University of Minnesota, she met Dad and fell in love ... she says it took about a year .. when asked how she knew he was the one, she said "You just know!! When asked in 1999 who had influenced her life most profoundly other than her parents, she answered it was Dad ... because of his courage and his fearlessness in overcoming his handicap.
They married in 1948 and have seven children .... her most difficult days came when we lost our brother, Rob. She writes that burying him was the most difficult thing she ever had to do ... yet she showed us her faith by example and refused to be unforgiving or bitter during this tremendous time of grief.
Mom loved this Holy Family Residence, the people here and, I quote "the little bit of heaven" that it is ....you gave her great joy and peace in her last years ... and we are all very grateful.
She was bright ( sharp as a tack to the end), beautiful ,independent ,strong, had a great sense of humor and was insightful beyond bounds. You didn't fool her for a minute .... she would even pick up the "suspicious" from the sound of your voice.
Mom loved each of us unconditionally ... she separated behavior from the love she has for us ... we have always known when she didn't approve of our choices or actions....but she has the most amazing way of loving us unconditionally anyway!
As I celebrate her joy at finally being in her Heavenly home and as I grieve for my Mother, I find myself fixated on her hands .....
The hands that taught us to pray
The hands that rubbed our foreheads when we were sick or sad
The hands that prayed to show her deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin
The hands that fingered a rosary almost daily .
The hands that wore the wedding rings of both our grandmother's ....
The hands that held the silver reflector when she was baking in the sun in the backyard.... something she did to the point of excess with her sister Joanr
The hands that created a special Santa gift spot for each of us in the living room on Christmas Eve and drove us to the 6AM Mass on Christmas morning before we could see our gifts.
The hands that sometimes left scratch marks on our arms when she was trying to catch us and we were dumb enough to pull away.
The hands that wiped her tears but continued to pray when she lost her father, her mother, her brother, her sister, her son, and the father of her children
The hands that accompanied that look on her face as she waved off those things she disliked
The hands that took the buckles and bows off of everything because it had to be "classic"
The hands that polished the silver and set the dining room table days in advance of any event.
The hands that signed the many notes on days when one of us was not going to school.
The hands that pieced together solutions in difficult times ... and there were many difficult times
The hands that wrote about the great times she and her sister, Nan, had growing up in their home by the lake.
The hands that cared for and prayed for her sister Joan as she was dying.
The hands that held those chocolate covered potato chips from Sarah , or Nancy's great toffee, or her Mother's blueberry buckle.
The hands that wrote about the Valentine flowers Sue brought her when she was a little girl.
The hands that pointed when her message was definite ...
The hands that struggled to write the answers in a book called Reflections from a Mother's Heart given to me on my 50th Birthday... she said I could just guess if I couldn't read it
The hands that held the book called something like "the Talk ...from a Mother to a Daughter" as she told me about sex. How my friend Pam Doty got it only to present it to Mom and I years later at a luncheon,I will never know.
The hands that were much missed when she spent 4 months in the hospital to ensure the birth of her youngest child.
The hands that loved to arrange or plant flowers.... except in the discarded toilet Roger Conway left in our backyard to use as a planter. What a treasure to live in a neighborhood of Conways .... we were surrounded by faith, fun and laughter
The hands that placed and dusted and replaced her many knickknacks over the years...
The hands that made the wheat thin and Peanut Butter cookies .. you can find the recipe in the Little Sister's cook book. Please be careful, though, they could cause diabetes.
The hands that volunteered here at the residence for many years.
The hands that broke off the small pieces of the huge Hershey Bar to share with us
The hands that made our lunches so we could come home from grade school every day.
The hands that signed cards to family and friends on all the unforgotten occasions ...
The hands that held her grandchildren.
The hands that helped at Ann's the times she spent holidays or recuperation time with her.
The hands that showed Ann where to put the knick knacks back after Ann dusted.
The hands that welcomed John (her godchild) and his family who came from California for a visit
The hands we held when she was sick.
The hands that received communion given by her son, Chris. Receiving communion from him was one of her great joys.
The hands that folded to pray every day of her life
The hands that lay peacefully and motionless wrapped in a rosary at the time of her death.
The hands that wrote the answer to the question "what would you like to leave as a legacy ." Her answer: "that the gift of faith is the most important, treasured gift that one will receive; If you have this gift it will see you through any challenge".
Mom, you have given us life along with that treasured gift of faith, you have lived it every day of your life, and we will cherish it and you always. We will deeply miss you and your hands .....we will watch for the signs ...