Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Remembering Aunt Maureen

Aunt Maureen’s Eulogy

How do you capture the color and life of a human being?  CAN you capture the life and love of Maureen Ellen Frances McManus?  She was caring and generous, friendly and all embracing.  Words can’t capture her and all that she has done or meant to so many of us here today.  I wish I could show you a picture - we all know she took beautiful pictures.  She always captured every celebration, and now it’s our turn to celebrate and remember her life.   So I’m going to try to paint a picture of the life of my Aunt Maureen and all that she was.

Firstly, Maureen didn’t hate many things. But she did hate Mondays...and early mornings.  So, we are sorry about meeting here this early on a Monday morning.

I knew Maureen McManus as Aunt Maureen.  She was so proud of being the “crazy Aunt,” the “wild Aunt.”  She loved being involved with us kids because she would be the one on the floor with us, reading us books, playing with our toys, playing make believe. It didn’t matter what book she read us, every story involved going to Wendy’s for a frosty and fries.  I’m not even sure she liked frosties and fries.  She wanted us to laugh - and it worked every time. She brought life to everything - our art, our toys, Indians games, whistling through her thumbs, and walks even through the cemetery. She was our biggest support system.

She was always the one nearest our birthday cake, urging us to go for the biggest icing flower - because everyone knew she loved Gartman Model Bakery icing.   The best thing about Christmas morning was Aunt Maureen. Not because of the gifts she brought, but because of the story behind each present.  Her generosity was vast and can be seen in every circle of life in which she belonged.

Outside of being my Aunt, she was also a dear friend to so many.  She never wanted to conform to any of the titles of the groups, so instead of being a member of the WOW (wild older women), she claimed to be a WOW - Wannabe.  Instead of a being called a YaYa - she preferred to be described as a YoYo.  Her friends in these circles all remember the same image - Aunt Maureen laughing and finding humor in every situation.  Whether it be a miscommunication over a “draft” beer... or was it a “giraffe” beer or joking about being nocturnal. She was never one to turn down an invitation for a visit to a very special place - as soon as she’d get the call asking  “whatcha doin??” she knew a trip to the casino was in her future. We all know she “enjoyed” making donations to the casinos.  Regardless of what it was, Maureen was always the first to arrive and the last to leave.  Whether it be for a party or a hospice visit.  That’s the beauty of Aunt Maureen: she made everyone feel as though they mattered, because to her, they truly did.  

Most of us here today remember Maureen as an Aunt and a friend.  But - being who she is - she had so many different interests and circles of life.   She was a social worker and she went into this field due to her love and care for her brother, Kevin; she specialized in working with those with developmental disabilities.  She always provided time, comfort and support to her friends when a family member was living their last moments leading her to volunteer with the Hospice of the Western Reserve.  No matter what stage of life someone was, she would provide caring and loving support.

She also spent nearly 50 years playing on countless softball teams.  Her teammates remembered her awesome pitching talent, line drives, diving catches, playing injured and her incredibly warm heart.    She was the queen of animals - from cats to hedgehogs, iguanas to opossums - because even if it wasn’t her own pet, she would make it her pet, and love it as her own.  She loved thunderstorms and wild weather, and would stay up late or make a special trip to photograph or record them. She found beauty in the simplicity and elegance of nature and many things which most people would overlook, she would photograph them and present them as something special, because to her they were.  She truly believed in the healing power of faith, having been healed herself and was fascinated by paranormal and supernatural phenomena. She knew that there is a God and greater forces that do help us throughout our lives.

Every time I spoke to Aunt Maureen, she would say “remember when…”  She was forever reminiscing.  She remembered and cataloged happy, positive memories, and recalled them often.  By sharing those memories, it would awaken that feeling of warmth and laughter.  We all need to remember.  Remember Aunt Maureen for the times she made us laugh and the times she stood by us.  Remember those playful moments, those colorful moments.  Remember her for her.  Hang on to those memories and talk about them often.   She is alive in our memories, her picture will always stay with us.