Patsy Casey took an Irish Mother’s interest in her 9 children and 38 grandchildren. Love. Pride. And devotion.
Like any Mother, Patsy enjoyed her children’s achievements, and worried about any set back. But always, always, Patsy was the foundation stone upon which the family thrived. The pillar of wisdom that provided encouragement, support and above all, unconditional love.
And everyone knew that. Her greeting when more than one child or grandchild arrived in Stella Maris said it all. “Well loves.”
Patsy attended family celebrations with great enjoyment, and a real sense of joie de vivre.
Whether that took her first class to Atlanta for first communions and high school graduations. . .
Or, to Celtic Park last year to watch six nephews win a Derry Senior Championship in gaelic football. A photograph of Patsy and the six boys victorious proudly adorns her living room.
To Croke Park to watch her two granddaughters win an All Ireland in camogie last March, Patsy one of the first people to congratulate the girls on the steps of the Hogan Stand.
To christenings and confirmations in Derry and Portstewart, where her arrival was eagerly awaited as children clamoured around her. “Well weans,” she would declare, sometimes a little overwhelmed at the reception.
In good times and in facing the occasional challenge, Patsy was the inspiration and the consolation. The alpha and omega of the Casey family. A formidable woman.
For Patsy, just as important were the simpler celebrations of life. A summer’s day spent in Shroove swimming and relaxing. Walking Soda in Amelia Earhart. A visit to Daily Mass. Lunch with friends or family. Learning and talking as gaeilge. All part of the rich fabric of the life of Patsy.
To Leo’s annual golf tournament where friends and family gathered celebrating and enjoying wonderful memories with Patsy of her soulmate Leo. The craic and stories flowing into the small hours in happy remembrance of their times past in Sunbeam Terrace, the Collon and Stella Maris. And, of course of countless adventures over the years.
On the passing of her own mother Kitty, Patsy presided over a celebration of life in Stella Maris, when a young grandson was heard to tell a caller: “the party’s still on.” There was to be no excessive mourning or sadness on Patsy’s watch.
In recent years she enjoyed a short but wonderful reliving of her happy childhood, when her sister Peggy moved home, the two travelling hither and thither, enjoying the craic in a fugue of cigarette smoke and sisterly laughter. And she and Peggy enjoyed the visits of her brother Kevin and his wife Bridgin to Derry to their childhood home, Stella Maris.
Patsy’s telling of stories was wonderful, whether tales of Kitty and Pops, her father, or a reminiscence starting “Myself and Leo. . .”. the tales lost nothing in the telling. Kitty, Pops, Peggy and Leo all came to life for those that didn’t know them, and for those that did the memories came flooding back in glorious technicolour and gales of laughter.
For the immediate family and her circle of friends, Stella Maris with Patsy in situ was the centre of affairs. People constantly came and went, with Patsy in the middle of it all. But anyone who thought she didn’t know what was going on was wrong and very mistaken. For Patsy, family came first. Although Christmas Eve, Leo’s Anniversary was a painful time for her, she turned it into a family day and a celebration of his life. She loved Stella Maris choc a bloc with children and grandchildren.
There, you knew when she was home. Entering through the front door, the whiff of cigarette smoke, a lifetime’s pleasure and indulgence. Her beloved Soda greeting you at the door, that is if she wasn’t locked in the car, forgotten, until Patsy would remember suddenly, ‘God Soda’s still in the boot.’
Patsy lived her life with a strong Catholic faith that sustained her and gave her great strength especially in recent times. For her prayer was an essential part of daily life.
But Patsy was no soft touch and although sympathetic to others and supportive, she would prefix her occasional annoyance with the prefix “For God’s sake. . .”. Indeed some of the debates on a Friday evening among herself and her assembled friends were not for the faint hearted!
Patsy also had a wonderful sense of self-humour and would joyfully recount stories from over the years where she swam against the tide in the interests of getting things done. Whether during her teaching career or in the raising of the family. A generation of children taught can testify to the influence of Patsy Casey on their life. Likewise the countless other people that she touched in so many ways across the years.
But whatever she did or said, or whatever her latest idea was; her children would react with the same sense of self-humour that Patsy showed herself, and say:
“Gotta love her, that’s the Mammy.”
It is typical of Patsy that every single one of them will have a host of happy memories of her to draw upon and seek comfort and inspiration from in the weeks and years ahead.
Ár dheis De go raibh a h-anam.