|Mary with her older brothers, Gene and Henry "Chub"|
Mary Connolly was a remarkable woman, she was born on May 23, 1941 to Henry Callan and Catherine Callan nee Zwack in Dubuque, Iowa. She had 2 older brothers, Gene and Henry, a younger sister Molly and a baby brother, John.
|Mary and her father Henry - first holy communion.|
|Mary with her mother, Catherine|
|Mary in high school.|
Popular in school, she went on a double date one day with a friend of her older brother (she told me there was no way she was going to go out with an older man on her own-she was 17, he 20). Fast forward to their marriage in August. Baby number one came, and then two, both boys. They were fast outgrowing the small place they rented.
|Mary and Baby #1|
Mary had her hands full wrangling two fiesty boys, while pregnant with her third-her husband worked at the packing plant - working all the extra hours he could get - and came home to rock babies.
Mary got her little girl and soon added another son. As the child count hit four, so did sorrow, as the newest addition struggled with a heart defect that later claimed his young life. Heart broken though she must have been, Mary had little time to give into grief, because during all the hospital visits and juggling four little ones, baby number five made her appearance. The count was now 3 boys (one in angel status) and 2 girls.
|I'm on the left, Heidi on the right.|
|Growing up (that's me with the hammer) circa 1968.|
Folks think country life is all daisies and lemonade, but that's only on television. There were all kinds of obstacles-a party telephone line for one, and a long distance toll charge anytime she called her mother. Living in the city, Mom had never learned to drive-she was stuck out in the country until Dad got home from work, or fishing, or hunting, or...
|Dad ordered Mom's birthday cakes, she made ours.|
|Mary and her wheels.|
Holiday tables groaned with her cooking. Mom learned to drive when my sister and I started kindergarten, she was 31. With keys in hand, she started her next career as chauffeur, a vocation that was kicked into high gear as school extra-curricular activities piled up on top of the endless grocery trips.
|Mary at the lake on a summer camping trip.|
Speaking of school, we all knew how to read before kindergarten. We played "school" with my oldest sister as the teacher if it wasn't nice enough to go outside. We were allowed to play outside nearly year round "until the lights came on" (if by 'lights' you understand I mean the one street light on our side of town), so there were pick up games of catch and baseball, endless bike rides and lots of stomping in the nearby creek.
Mom and Dad took all of us camping, for weeks, every summer, in Wisconsin where it was cooler. We could doggy paddle in the lake (so long as we didn't go deeper than our belly buttons) get dirty, roast marshmallows over a campfire, ride our bikes over endless trails and soak up the sun, wild as natives. Without fanfare or complaint, Mom did all the work getting us ready to go and packing up for the trip back home.
Mom made every one of her children feel special, loved and wanted. She crocheted afghans to keep us warm, sewed halloween costumes and easter dresses. Mom taught me to sew, a hobby I still love. She taught us all to cook, and by her example I learned how to run a household. She always had a book in her hand, reading nearly every day. Mom made sure we were all present and accounted for in church every Sunday morning-she could quell unacceptable behavior in church with just a glance of her "mean" look. Our Christmas trees sparkled with tinsel and homemade ornaments, hundreds of holiday cookies were baked each year, with gifts piled up-and she gave Santa all the credit.
|Grandma Mary's first wave of grandbabies, 1989|
|Grandma Mary & Baby K|
Now Grandma Mary, she took every phone call, never offered unsolicited advice, stocked her house with dolls for the girls and trucks for the boys. She stitched doll clothes and colorful, coveted quilts. She painted beautiful ceramics and gave each of her (now grown up) children a hand painted nativity scene. She worked at the ceramic shop, took classes to become a certified nursing assistant, and began taking care of aging Catholic nuns at the facility in town.
|Mom and Dad|
|Family reunion, 1999.|
Mary Catherine Callan Connolly died on January 26, 2001. She is survived by my Dad, her sister Molly, her brother John, six children, 14 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. My Mother was the most beautiful, the kindest, sweetest, most perfect lady I ever knew. I've never met her match. She, no doubt, is with the angels, with her baby Todd, her Mom and Dad, and her brothers, Gene and Chub. I still miss her so much every single day. I still can't believe she's gone. My mother is why I believe there is a God and a heaven. I have to believe I can be with her again.
I love you Mom,