Thursday, January 4, 2018

Remembering a Dear Friend: Maureen Farnan

Words of Remembrance for Patricia Maureen Farnan
3 January 2018 
St. Henry Catholic Church
Maureen (right) with two of her best friends.
Denny, Sean and Stephanie and their families asked me to say a few words about our friend Maureen.  I have known Maureen most of my life, ever since Sean and I were in pre-school together.  Since then, Maureen has always been present in my life.  A presence that all of us gathered here today, will surely miss.

I remember the day my own father passed away.  Maureen came running through our front door with a look of concern on her face.  All she wanted to do was to be with us and take care of us in our time of grief.  Denny, Sean and Stephanie and family: as Maureen was there for us, know that we – all of us gathered today - are here for you with our love, support and presence.  Because, after all, we learned how to do it from Maureen.

I recently came across an article that was written on friendship.  Quite fitting, it was published in the Irish Times.  The author wrote: “The quality of your life is determined not only by who you are but who you have come to know and the people you surround yourself with.  That is the essence of friendship.”

If this author is correct, and I believe she is, then each of us gathered here must have a pretty good quality of life  - not because of who we are – but because each of us has known Maureen, and we have been surrounded by Maureen’s love and presence….as wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, coworker and above all as friend.  And if you were to ask anyone who knew Maureen to describe her, I would guess that they would all say that their lives are better because of Maureen’s friendship: her care and compassion; her kindness and ability to make us laugh; her love for each of us. 

Over the past several days, many of us have reminisced and told stories about Maureen.  Each of us has a favorite Maureen story that speaks of who she was and what she meant to us.  Maybe it’s a story about Maureen as a dutiful nurse or hospice volunteer.  Maybe it’s how she lovingly and generously took care of her children and grandchildren, and each of us.  Maybe it involves her sipping white zinfandel or snacking on cheese and crackers.  Maybe it’s about Maureen’s unique way of taking pictures: closing one eye with her finger and the other eye on the view-finder – and being a little confused when she got a digital camera.   Maybe it’s about her love of all things sweet (especially M&Ms and ice cream.)  She may have never finished a whole meal, but she always had room for dessert.  Maybe it’s about her cinnamon rolls or her crescent rolls.  Maybe it’s about her ability to suggest you go shopping and not buy anything herself but convincing you to buy half the store.  Maybe it’s about Maureen’s love of gathering a group of friends around a dinner table.

But no matter what your story is, I’m sure we can all agree on two things.

First, Maureen always had a kind word and a compliment for everyone.   Maureen would always greet us with a smile and say something to lift our spirits.  Maureen took great delight in all her family and friends, and she reminded us of her love for us in every moment by her kind words and beautiful smile.

Second, Maureen always went out of her way to do something for others, and was always willing to lend a helping hand.  This past Thanksgiving, a group of friends gathered.  And even though Maureen was tethered to an oxygen line, she wouldn’t sit still. She insisted on taking care of our needs…clearing the dishes, filling our cups, replenishing the food.  When we suggested that she let the kids take care of things, you could tell that it was difficult for her because helping and taking care of us was just who she was.  In doing so, she showed that each one of was special to her and she reminded us to always take care of each other. 

Perhaps this is all summed up in the Irish concept of (Ah Num Car A) “anam cara.”  While it is best translated as “soul friend” it can also be described as a friendship that is characterized as a compassionate presence.  Maureen embodied this idea of compassionate presence in all moments of her life. A presence that radiated kindness, generosity, gentleness, warmth, and love.

According to Irish poet John O’Donahue, “When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at the most sacred place: home.”  Each of us were blessed to have Maureen in our lives because she always made us feel at home by her compassionate presence.  In doing so, I believe she gave us a glimpse of that eternal home where she now dwells.  We know that we will surely miss her compassionate presence on earth, the anam cara, of Maureen.  But our faith reminds us that this presence has not ended, but is only changed.  Maureen is smiling as she looks down upon us, with her parents, siblings and friends who have gone before us.  The love that she showed us and our many memories will remain with us and remind us that one day we will be reunited with her in that most sacred and eternal home.   The quality of our lives are truly better, because they have been touched by our friend, our anam cara, our Maureen. 

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

May you rest in the eternal peace of our gracious God.    

Written by Jennifer Fergus and Robert Jones, SM 

Maureen's Obituary