As a teenager, I became best friends with Anne's son, Kevin. What stands out in my memory was how Anne's eyes lit up when anyone approached her, the warmth of her smile would embrace you even before she hugged you.
Her son, Kevin, became like a brother to me, and Anne my surrogate mom. In the years after graduation, over time and distance, our contacts became less frequent. But, Anne was faithful, and every year we received her Christmas Letter, with all the news that had happened in the previous year, it followed us like a thread, and remained a constant connection, that often brought back cherished memories I had shared with her family.
I remember one Christmas Letter in particular, she sent an article about my maternal grandfather Michael Fitzgerald, who I had been named after but had never met. That was Anne...thoughtful, kind, and generous with her time and affection. My wife Shellie became concerned when we didn't get her letter this year and felt in her heart that something must be wrong.
Smart, funny, bright: Anne won many contests with her skill as a writer. I don't remember what the prizes were, or how many, but some were esoteric to say the least, and she poked fun at her self if you made too much of her prowess. And she would regale you with the time she won a cow and 500 pounds of butter, or some such odd tidbit. And then she'd smile. She loved to ambush you with her humor. The butter is my invention, but, I think she did actually win a cow.
She was devoted to her husband, Clarence, who was the neighborhood fix-it man. He was from an era when a man's basement and garage were his absolute domain. Clarence could...and did... repair almost any item he came across. He is the epitome of a gentleman. Quite, unassuming, I know, that he was Anne's rock. Steady and patient he doted on Anne, and she on him. If Anne was my surrogate mom; Clarence is my surrogate dad; and Ed, my older brother. I love them all.
The last time I saw Anne and Clarence was the day before they moved to Reno to live with Ed and Irene. The first thing she said with a big smile was, "You were on my bucket list." It shocked me to hear that, but as it sunk in, I was honored to be among one of the last people she wanted to see before she passed.
I didn't say it then, but, Anne and Clarence, you were at the very top of my bucket list too.
An Irish Funeral Prayer
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again.