CHRISTINA ANNE KEANE GRAY
July 1, 1944 – March 12, 1996
It’s been ten years since I got the fateful call from my brother informing me that our mother, who was lying in a hospital in Dublin, Ireland, had passed on. She’d returned to ireland to spend the holidays with her family, but the day after Christmas was admitted to the terminal ward of St. Vincent’s Hospital. I spent three weeks with her when she first fell ill from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The staff *promised* to call if she got worse. They never called. I wasn’t there when my mom took her last breath. Part of me is glad, because my mother died what I considera violent death–vomitting blood since the cancer had eaten through her G.I. tract. Anyway, she was an amazing woman–loved God with all her heart, and was working toward her degree so that she could work with special needs children.
My mother was born in London, England to an Irish carpenter and a very proper English mother. Shortly after her birth, the family returned to Dublin, and there she was raised. There were a total of seven children in her family, and my mother was the eldest girl. My aunts and uncles tell me my mom was like a second mother to them. Just recently, I learned the reason my mother never finished her schooling in Ireland–she had to drop out to get a job and help support her family. The one thing my mother loved very much about her homeland was the ocean. that’s one thing she always spoke about with great fondness–but, interestingly, she could not swim. 😀
Having been crushed by a man she was engaged to, my mother made what I know was a very difficult decision–she emigrated from Ireland as a governess to family who lived in Boston. Here is my mother then with her charge, Colin. Soon, the family who sponsored Tina returned to Ireland, but my mother opted to stay. She began nightschool to get her education, and there she met my father. They were married in 1965. My brother was born the same year. Five years later, I was born–while my parents were livign in Germany and trying to adopt a baby girl. My mom always called me her miracle baby…then she started calling me her Little Butterball because I had a golden tan and was chunky!! Well, some things just don’t change. *grins*
It’s incredible to believe an entire decade has passed without her. I remember being so frightened–I’d never been without my mother. When I was a teen, my mom told me a story–she had gone home during one of my father’s TDY assignments and spent time with her family. She placed me in a playpen at the top of the stairs (I know–let’s NOT even talk about that safety issue, okay?)–and my mother stepped otu of view, and apparently I shrieked. My Nana nearly had a heart attack, and when she asked, What on earth is wrong with the child? SIGH My mother said, Nothing, she just can’t see me. Yeah, I know. Tragic. Imagine how I felt when she died–imagine grapplying–truly grappling with mortality and the afterlife. I wanted, no DEMANDED to know exactly where Heaven was. Anyway…I’ve moved beyond that. LOL But I miss her dreadfully. My mother had a heart for children, and sometimes, it’s just too much for me knowing she never got to see any of my children save my then-2-year-old daughter, Ciara (who was her Nana’s Little Irish Girl).
Always missed. Always loved. Always in my heart.