The Wise Novelist

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all of the mothers out there. That means the biological mothers, the adoptive mothers, the surrogates who step into the life of a younger person and offer them the love and guidance that a mother otherwise would, and those that show a mother’s love for any and all creatures. You rock.

I’ve watched my lovely wife, Lisa, do an excellent job of being a mother to my three kids and now my grandchildren. Toughest job in the world. Especially with McCaffreys. We were born to try the patience of a saint.

I have had a lot of mothers in my life. Matriarchs. My grandmother, Posie (wife of Spaghetti) played that role. My sister, Veronica, at times (even now). Momma C Collins was an amazing surrogate at a time when I really needed one. Love you all.

But my biological mother, Veronica Theresa McCaffrey (ne Burke) really earned her title.

Raising my siblings and me was a tough job. No doubt drove her half-mad. It was a short trip.

She was my basis for the McCarthy mother in Finding Jimmy Moran, and I did my best to capture her essence, but I could not begin to do her justice.

She was funny and tough and loved us unconditionally.

To her, our education was the most important thing she could provide to her children. And she did just that.

Later on, she doted on her grandchildren. And they, with their equally rambunctious cousins, in return, played pranks on her whenever the opportunity presented itself. Did their very best to give her a heart attack. And she always was a great sport about it.

She loved the only great-grandchild that she knew in this life – Lucian – with abandon. She’s looking after all the others from the other side of the veil.

She was – like her mother, Bridey, before her. Totally eccentric.

She always was half in the Fae, and saw and conversed with ghosts, right up to the end. BJ was a regular visitor. She loved him like one of her own. She enjoyed his company.

She was a devout Catholic, and towards the end we would have long conversations about the afterlife. She kept telling me how she wanted us to be all together in heaven, and I told her that she better leave the back gate unlocked, if she was even hoping for a short visit.

I was amazed that, right to the end, she actually worried about getting past St. Peter herself. And that was a little sad, given how much effort she put into being such a good Catholic.

She had a macabre sense of humor, and made me promise to snap a photo of her in her coffin once she passed. A beautiful woman right up to the end. She was very vain.

I, equally macabre, kept that promise.

I even snapped a photo of the younger generation posing with her one final time, but I’ll save that one.

Mom, who was a diabetic her entire adult life, refused to give up her earthly pleasures and regularly set record sugar levels that astounded her doctors. She loved ice cream and stole it from her grandchildren at all the family dinners, then blamed them for giving it to her when she was caught. True McCaffrey.

She had lost her hearing towards the end, and blasted religious television programs all day long, which serenaded me in my home office on the floor above. I could hear her singing along with the prayers in Latin. Felt like I was living in a cell in a monastery. I took my conference calls in the back yard.

Despite Mom’s piety, she was a terrible medical patient and raised hell with the hospital staff whenever she was hospitalized. We could always hear her cursing at them like a longshoreman as we stepped off the hospital elevators to visit. God bless the staff at her regular Hospital.

Towards the end, Mom complained how her hospital room was full of ghosts, who wouldn’t let her sleep, which really freaked out the night nurses. As a result, Mom liked to nap while live family were visiting in her hospital room.

I would sometimes tell her I was ghost when she woke up. You should have seen her face.

Mom lived with us in the multi-generational family home on Mosholu Avenue and died in the same bedroom that my father had died in twenty years before. I guess she figured it would be easier to find him if she went through the same door.

Mom was surrounded by most of her family the night she died. Those that couldn’t be there physically attended by iPhone. Looked like a concert. According to my psychic friend Ginger, who was on the phone with me at the end, the room was also packed with ghosts, including Mom’s parents, whom Ginger described perfectly as standing directly behind my giant nephew Evan. Freaked Evan out. Ginger told me the exact time when my mother would pass, moments before she did, and instructed me to open the window of the bedroom to allow easier passage. I did, and Mom did.

Her final resting place is with my Dad at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester, NY.

She used to lie on that grave when she went to visit him over the years. I guess she was checking out the view.

Mom was a mother to everyone who showed up in the room that night, including Donna Moulton, a non-blood part of the Clan, who took care of Mom towards the end. They battled regularly every day but neither one would have missed those daily encounters for the world. It was fun to watch.

I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for my Mom, and all of those other moms who played a role in my life.

So Happy Mothers Day to you, Mom, and Posie, and Momma C, and my sister Veronica.

And Happy Mothers day to my lovely wife Lisa, and my daughter Jackie, and all of the rest of the family and friends who have had the wonderful opportunity to play that role in someone else’s life.

Again, its the toughest job in the world.

And to you my fine, five readers, those of you who have served in that lauded role for others, well done you. The world is a better place for your efforts.

Now get out there the rest of you and let the mothers in your life know how much they mean to you.

But most of all, make their day a great one.

5 Responses

  1. Very nice blog today, Tom. A real tribute to your/our many mom’s. I still remember vividly the early visits to your mom with my wife of still only a few years. Inevitably, your parents would end up sharing a few stories of our hijinks and “fun” we had gotten ourselves into years ago, sometimes with your dad adding his “perspective” of what it took to bail someone out, oops, I mean lend a helping hand. And once your mom could stop laughing, she’d look up and see that my wife was considering that maybe none of us should be allowed to multiply. At that point, your mom would always add “You know, Nan, I’ll grant you that I suppose the boys MAY have been a LITTLE …. (pause) high spirited. But they’re good boys all in all.”

    So with that, I share your tribute to your Mom, your grandmother Posie, and Momma C. Loved them all and the spirit of family they shared with all of us!

  2. Your mom was a remarkable woman and her devotion to her husband and family are an inspiration to everyone who met her. Great tribute, Tommy. She would love it! (Especially the pictures 🙂

  3. Thanks BC, Mary & Jen. I was blessed by having amazing parents and their relatively Laissez Faire approach to my upbringing allowed me to develop into a character and surround myself with other characters, whom they were very fond of.

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