Tuesday, September 26, 2006

God Bless You, Grandma Donaghy

Early this morning, a beautiful soul left this world...

Ellen Donaghy was born and raised in Scotland, and traveled to America over 60 years ago. She never went to college, and after she was married, never worked outside the home. And she never lost that Scottish brogue we loved so much to imitate. She gave birth to ten children, and they were her life. I'm so proud to say that I'm a part of that legacy, now in its third generation.

In Scotland, they called her "Nellie." She worked in a men's clothing store after school. She survived the German blitz of World War II, and she saw many of her friends and loved ones die in those bombings. She prayed every day, a rosary never far from her hands, and the name of Mary was always on her lips. Nellie met Frank and they were married, and their new life took them across the sea to America, leaving behind all they ever knew.

When I was a teenager, one Sunday out of four was spent at Grandma Donaghy's. We'd sit in the house in Cranbury, watching old Jimmie Stewart movies, or John Wayne down in Grandpa's den (it was always the Duke down there). Tea was always on in the little white kitchen; white porcelain cups on saucers, and never-ending Entenmann's raspberry danish. The family laughing, quoting movies, telling stories, or just singing the old songs from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

I remember the muddy stream out back where we'd fish and look for snappers, the ivy wall, the iron jungle gym. Fireflies, cookouts, climbing the big sycamore before it was cut down. Sundays after Mass on the green lawn, talking of God and the stories of the saints... and Grandma would sit and knit her Irish sweaters. You would often hear that tiny whisper of the Holy Names, "Jesus... Mary" as her fingers worked the needles. She was a woman who loved God.

The love of my grandparents is now taken up into the Love of All Loves. I'm sure Grandpa was waiting, in that old grey sweater, standing by the kitchen sink in the sunlight. And Sheila, her baby, who left us so suddenly, she was smiling as the first light of Heaven fell on Nellie's face, as Grandma entered eternity. I believe this; I can almost feel it. The knitting projects are over, the needles will lie motionless for the first time in decades. But what remains is her legacy of love. Perhaps the greatest work of Grandma's is this tapestry of souls that is even now woven into the very fabric of the world; in the lives of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The spun gold of the union of Francis and Ellen, it stretches out into new patterns, new designs they never could have imagined.

William, Francis, Margaret, Catherine, Mary, Hughie, Ellen, Eileen, Patricia, and Sheila... and the next two generations, and the lives they've created; Anthony, Billy, Frankie, Mickey, Albert, Hughie, Patricia, Sean Joseph, Catherine, Eric, Sean Michael, Joseph, Michael, Jimmie, Teresa, Eileen, Daniel, Thomas, Mary, Veronica, Benjamin, Brian, Bridget, Matthew, Ellen, Michael, Rebecca, Bernadette, John, Kyle, Joey, Kevin, Sheila, Margaret, Ryan, Eric, Gavin, Timothy, Christine, Gary, Liam, Brendan, Colleen, Joey, Ella, Elena, Kayla, Gary, Walter, Tyler, Riley, Kaiyla, Caden, Shannon, Eric, Brianna, Jenna, Jessica... and there's more on the way!

All because two people fell in love....

Take away the marriage of these two Irish immigrants, my Grandma and my Grandpa, and none of us would exist. We simply would not be. This is the power of the two coming together, effecting and directing a cosmic stream of human persons. What a power God has given us, to bring life into the world! And Grandma did just that..... life to the fullest.

Before she slipped into an unconscious state, Grandma tossed and turned and tried to get out of the hospital bed. This didn't suprise us, she was still mowing the lawn in her 70's. We had the chance to sit beside her and pray a Hail Mary. I could feel the tension in her body, the labored breathing. But with that prayer, she seemed to relax. Surrounded by her sons and daughters, and grandchildren, I know she could sense their love and prayers. According to my father, the last audible words she whispered... "Mother of God."

For your YES to God, for your love, and your witness. For your stories of Scotland and Wee Willy Sticks, for the spot of tea and those amazing sweaters, for teaching us how to pray, how to think of God, and walk with Him in every moment.... the Donaghy Clan is forever blessed. We love you, and pray God is holding you in His Warm Embrace...

I love you,
Young Will

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