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Born on 2/11/1928 in Ridgewood, Queens, Mom started life with a surprise: Shortly after her twin sister was born, the medical team began preparing to move the new baby and mother from the room when the doctor announced “Wait a minute, I got another one in there.” And then Mom entered the world.
Along with her sister, Betty, and brother, Eddie (two years older), the family lived in an apartment in Ridgewood through the Depression. Although times were hard on everyone, Mom always felt fortunate that her father remained employed by the railroad and they always had enough to get by.
The family moved to Hempstead in 1942 where she finished high school and worked part-time as an usherette in the Rivoli Movie Theater. At a joint social event with another movie theater, the Hempstead Theater, she met John, her future husband, and was smitten from the start. He enlisted in the Navy in 1945 and she waited for him until his discharge in 1949. During that time, she worked in a clerical position in the Long Island Lighting Company, where she met Joan and introduced her to Ed. (They were married for 67 years until Ed died in 2016.) While walking home from working late one night, she felt particularly lonely and resolved right then that she would have a big family so that no one in her family would ever feel alone.
She married John in 1950 and soon got to work on her resolution. By 1953 the first two children were born. Looking to save money for a house, Mom seized the opportunity when Ed and Joan, who had been getting their start living with Grandma, moved out to their own first home. Mom, feeling rather noble about it all, informed her mother that, “We’re not going to let you be alone!” When she moved in with two children and a third who followed soon after, Grandma was a mere 47 years old and enjoying a house to herself for the first time in her life.
In 1955 they moved to Bayport, buying a house in the village’s first subdivision. Most of the new homeowners were of the same approximate age and also producing children at a prodigious rate. It was a great place to raise a family or to be a kid. Shortly before moving in, she had cut her foot on a broken milk bottle, and at move-in was caring for two nephews while Joan was having her third child. So, she had her leg in a bandage, five boys under the age of 5 living in a new home in the era of single car families. Fortunately, it was also the era of delivery of milk and essentials to the home. She liked to tell the story of the morning that she spotted the Dugan Bread delivery truck passing by with some much-needed bread. She ran (limped) out of the house yelling to him in a frantic voice, as if she was hailing a rescue vessel from a stranded life raft.
Another of her favorite stories was that when seeing the doctor prior to the birth of her fourth child in 1956, the doctor recited the history up to that point: “So, you had a baby in 1952, 1953, and 1954. What happened in 1955? Is that the year you got the TV?”
She continued having babies every two years until 1968. Except for the frequent visits to the hospital delivery room, she was a stay-at-home mom but still found time to be a Room Mother at school, Den Mother for Cub Scouts, join the Rosary Society at church, and develop close friendships with the other moms on the block. She also enjoyed gardening, sewing, knitting, and making dresses for herself and daughters.
After a three-year battle with cancer, Dad died in 1973, and she found herself as the head of a family of ten children ranging in age from 5 to 21, with seven still living in the home full time. She re-entered the employment world and eventually secured a position as the unit secretary for the MICU at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, where, over a 15-year period she often continued a mothering role for the younger nurses and staff, offering her sage advice whether it was asked for or not. She was a master in the application of Irish Catholic guilt.
She still found a way to rent a motor home and take the entire family to Missouri for the first college graduation of her children, and always was present at the important events in the lives of all her children, including travelling to Germany to visit a newborn grandson despite the intense fear of flying for the first time in her life. She sought therapy to conquer the fear and laughed about one of the techniques suggested, to repeat the phrase which became a family joke: “My hands are hot and heavy”.
She became a grandmother for the first time at age 49, and went on to repeat that accomplishment 28 more times. She was also a great grandmother of 12. Through all her life, her greatest sense of purpose was in the role of mothering.
Visitation- Wednesday May 17, 2023 from 2-4:30 & 7-9:30 p.m. at our Bayport Funeral Home, 683 Montauk Hwy.
Funeral Mass- Thursday May 18, 2023 at 9:45 a.m. at Our Lady of the Snow RC Church, Blue Point
Interment- Long Island National Cemetery
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105