Once upon a time, a small but fierce woman, who came to the US from Ireland as a teenager, made a decision to seize control of her life and make something great out of herself by going to college and graduating with her BSN at age 52. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for strong women (and men) who realize it is never too late to do what you please no matter what stage of life you’re in.
Deirdre loved her family and wanted them to learn about their heritage and also appreciate that the world is larger than what was in their backyard so she’d take her children and grandchildren each on trips to various parts of the world.
Political issues were Deirdre’s heart and she would debate someone all day if she could, jumping to defend those less fortunate. The right to vote was so important to Deirdre that she would threaten her family if they dared not exercise their right. Obviously, this made for some teasing amongst the family members to boil her blood by telling her they’d forgotten, or that they just blindly picked people to vote on based upon whose name sounded neater on the ballot. My niece would even go as far as to sometimes set my mother-in-law’s bedroom TV up to the news channel that leaned way on the other side of the political spectrum than what she supported, causing a HUGE uproar whens she turned it on that night.
My mother-in-law loved to read. She’d recommend books to my husband, but I’d end up reading them instead, so I have her to thank for introducing me to some amazing literature that I wouldn’t have thought to pick up myself. At the baby shower for my eldest daughter, she gifted a huge basket of books — “All the Classics– the must-haves” for all ages and stages of life. Starting with Dr Seuss , then Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, To Kill a Mockingbird, Night by Elie Wiesel and more.
Deirdre would make a big deal of celebrating birthdays by buying everybody their own cake and rounding the whole family together. October was a big month because several of us had birthdays. I remember I had only been dating my husband for a few months when October rolled around, but she asked him what my favorite cake was and bought one for me, too.
Deirdre accepted, included and invited everybody into the family. It wasn’t uncommon to be at Christmas dinner and have people join that I’d never recognized before– friends of friends or even someone who was hired to mowed her lawn was invited. The front door was never closed with the amount of people coming and going. And during every holiday, she would sit with each person and ask how their friends or family were doing. In my case, she always wanted to know what my mom, brother and sister were up to.
My mother-in-law loved her family more than anything. She loved her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
To live a life as full as she did is to win at life.
May she now rest in peace.
July 14, 1942- February 8, 2015
Thank you to Emily for providing some of the inspiration for this post.