We can see so many of ourselves in the picture, we of the next generation, and the ones after us. From the pictured parents, there are 108 of us. There is no fault in not knowing everyone. But Mary did. The girl with the bow knew everyone.
She left us this week, aged 92. Most of her 12 siblings went before her. I kept being taken aback that there are only 5 of the ‘grown ups’ left.
Mary was the eldest auntie, a big part of all of our lives. She was always there, full of smiles and gentle wit, love and laughter, hard work and hard won wisdom. She was our backbone- central, strengthening and supportive.
Her brothers and sisters, and later, nephews and nieces got most of her time and energy. Somehow she managed work, family, volunteering and fun. She helped set up the parish youth club, she played a mean hand of whist, she recited poetry. In her last days she told a visiting priest Chesterton’s Donkey, to the delight of all. She spent much time in her mother’s home parish of Gweedore. We all spend time there when we can.
We have to adjust now to a world without Mary. We all worry about the youngest auntie, who has lived in the family home with Mary until the extra care of a nursing home was needed. Mary has been her constant, and, in recent years, her main focus. She will have the most adjusting. But there are lots of us. We’ll be there. It’s what we do.
It’s what Mary and the other grown ups showed us how to do.