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In Memory of my Aunt Aileen

I remember with great affection my Aunt Aileen who died on the 31th of January 2024. I remember her most of all my aunts because when I moved to America from Ireland in 1976 to 1709 we lived around the corner from her in Westhampton Beach. She was always playing host to big family occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas as well as summer holiday get-togethers. At those times, I was always delighted to see my two other aunts, Mary Ellen and Terrie, and their families, and it made me so happy when we were all together. 


I remember in later years how Aunt Aileen looked after my grandfather Papa and his second wife Mimi until Papa’s death in August 1995.  Whenever she left her apartment in the City and came out to her house in Westhampton Beach on weekends or for the summer, she would always visit them right away to see if they needed anything.


I also remember when she came over to Dublin for my sister Bonnie’s wedding in 1992. At the day after the wedding I burst into tears because my relationships with Bonnie would be very different following her marriage. Finally at night after I was put into bed, I couldn’t hold my feelings in any longer and when my parents went upstairs I began to cry softly. It was Aunt Aileen who came downstairs to see how I was. When she came in and I explained how I was feeling and why I was crying, she understood my situation fully. When my parents came down to see why I was crying, she waved her hand, saying I was okay. Her compassion that night has always stayed with me. Up to that point Bonnie had been part of my support system when Mom was away or sick. Bonnie was the one who stepped in and looked after me. I realised that night that the situation would be very different from now on. However, this was before I had PAs and moved into my own place where I am now living an independent life.

On the last occasion I visited America, Mom and I stayed with her at her apartment in New York City. She took us to the school classroom where she taught history, but I had little interest. I wanted to get a piece of exercise equipment I’d seen in a shop. When Mom and I got back to the apartment Mom asked me why I had to be so impatient. But when I finally got the piece of exercise equipment, my Aunt Aileen simply laughed. I don’t remember what it was called, but I certainly didn’t think about putting in into a suitcase! We still had to travel across the country to a family wedding in California and finally home to Ireland after that.


In later years when I was in great pain following two accidents, Aunt Aileen was often one of the people I would phone when I needed someone to talk to when the pain got too much. She had her own pain, too, especially grief, when her older son John died in 2003


The last time I saw her was in 2010 when she came over to Ireland to visit us. I wish now that we had a chance to talk more, but, as always, she found time for others—my PA Agnes and my neighbour Liz. Liz had come over to learn how Aunt Aileen had found her recent knee surgery, and my PA Agnes was asking her advice on love troubles. 


I remember her with great affection and love and I hope I will see her again one day.  

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