Living in Unconditional Love (104)

Mar 05, 2023

Living in Unconditional Love (104)


“Love flows from God to humans without effort:

As a bird glides through the air without moving its wings-

Thus, they go wherever they wish united in body and soul,

Yet separate in form.”

–Mechtild of Magdeburg


My wife Eileen died from esophageal cancer in February 2020 one year after being diagnosed, 60 years to the day that we met on Long Island. Then my brother Tom became ill (not COVID), and I spent a total of six weeks being with him in Ohio, but he died in October 2020. My sister-in-law Sue Mahoney died from Covid-19 in January 2021. On top of it all stood the pandemic, locking everyone down almost two years, and even though it is abating, I wear my mask anytime I am out among people, unlike many.

02/05/2023                             Yesterday, (as I wrote this,) March 3, was the third anniversary of Eileen’s funeral. We were fortunate that the Covid lockdown had not yet occurred, and we were able to have a full attendance of the many friends and family that could come, including the newborn Maria in the arms of her glowing parents, Dan and Alesandra – and the many other arms who loved to hold the wee one.

This past week has been a quiet one. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred and life just flowed on, much like that period after Eileen died and we waited for the time of the funeral. A little extra time was allotted so that Alesandra felt strong enough to make the trip from Virginia where they live, after the birth of Maria. One life leading into a new life. I remember the joy and sorrow mix of the wake and funeral clearly, and it made that period livable.

Janet is coming for a short visit today and will be around for a few days so that will be nice to have her here.

I will now share Dan’s thoughts that he gave at the funeral Mass to round out this time.

A wife, a sister, a mother (of 4 girls 2 boys and a Dan as she would affectionally say) a grandmother, an aunt, mentor, and a Friend are all descriptions that are mentioned describing my mother.

  • Determined – My mother was driven by sense love, determination, and adventure throughout her life. She always thought of others first and found such interesting way to entertain people.


I’d like to run through some thoughts I have when I think of my mother.

My sister mentioned camping in Canada; we would go camping there for a week each summer.  My dad would go gem hunting with his hammers and chisels, my mom would take us to the lake and go swimming.  We would have campfires and learn new campfire songs.  I always remember the meals my mom would make over the fire…. And the introduction to Hamburger Helper… What a delicious combination, I couldn’t believe my mother had invented such a wonderful meal.  When my mother got married, she taught herself how to cook, and she was an amazing cook.  She has some legendary family meals such as Tuna Noodle Casserole and Aunt Eileen Green Beans.  Though her specialty was really baking and her flaky pie crusts…. Really is amazing growth after hearing her tell me about watching her mom who would light the oven by turning on the gas and throwing matches into the Oven.

At our house we had a nice size pond, where now multiple generations have come and enjoyed their time swimming.  When a large tree had fallen over the water, she had my dad trim the tree so that we could use it as a springboard.  But no one has really enjoyed the power of the pond if they weren’t terrorized by my mom within the water.  She would do this slow, silent swim on her back … just her eyes staring at you and her toes pointing at you …it was like an alligator coming to get you in slow motion and yet she always seemed to be getting closer and closer.  She told me later that she let the pure panic set in on her victims as we wasted energy flailing around.  Those that have experienced this fear… know what I mean.

When she was around 55 years old, she left St Patrick’s in Whitney Point and went to school at Lemoyne for her Masters certificate of Theology.  Despite not being in school for over 35 years, she started this 4-year process of writing papers and taking tests.  After completing this she joined the St Margaret’s team.  The friendships with the leadership team of Father Dan, Sister Malice, Lana, and Donna along with the entire parish community opened a wonderful new door to new lifelong friends.  They have sincerely been touched by the welcoming nature of everyone they’ve encountered here.  It really is a special place in her heart.

Always up for an adventure, she went on weekend long bike rides or white water rafting with the youth groups.  She went on vacations with members of the Parrish to Alaska, Hawaii and more.  She loved horses as she was on an equestrian team as a kid, would ride the horses at Mohonk and we later had a horse of our own.  The last few years she would also ride a 1/4 horse through some friends down the road.  And everyone knew the party really started when my mom got up and danced at the family weddings or functions.  She created these family reunion environments that were always the favorite time of everyone’s summer.

As much as an adventurer that she was, she was the family disciplinarian.  I think everyone either loved her or feared her, as her punishments were quick and without bias.  I think I spent ½ of my high school life grounded.  I one time asked her why she is always so strict and she told me that when she appears before God, and is asked about her life, she had to know in her heart that she did everything in her power to raise me right and if she did not enforce these rules she couldn’t do it sincerely to God.  I really couldn’t argue with that.

In 2009, I fainted and had a skull fracture and some other injuries and wasn’t doing well.  I moved back home and lived with my parents for almost a year and really bonded with them as an adult who just happened to be their child.  What a wonderful gift that has proven to be for the three of us.  I saw the truth of her generosity, love.  Every day watching dad come home from work and hunt her down to give her a kiss hello, gave a closure to their day and enjoy their time together.  They made me understand what love and sacrifice is between two people.

My mother’s commitment to family, God and community cannot be summed up in a few minutes, as her essence of life are these things and what brought us here today.

A wife, a Sister, a Mother (of 4 girls 2 boys and a Dan as she would affectionally say), a Grandmother, an Aunt, a Mentor and a Friend, are all descriptions that describe my mother.

She was my best friend.

As always, the tears were close while reading this, as it brought her vibrantly back in my heart. Eileen was alive, and that life echoed around her wherever she was. I was indeed fortunate to have her in my life for 60 years.



Gentle One, I continue to live gently in Eileen’s love, and in her love, I came to recognize Your unconditional love that fills all there is. That love echoes in my life and makes life a joy to continue to live. (Yes, one can have tears and still feel joy.) I find life to be still a wonder and give thanks that I can live a comfortable life and share with others the love of life at its best.

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My God has led me on an 80 year jaunt to ever more wondrous beauty. I am led to share this journey and gifts of God that have been showered upon me, not just for me but for whoever God brings into my path.

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