20 December 2010

Rosemary Auricchio Rooney, July 12, 1924 - December 13, 2010

The Sean Rooney that Beverly Eckert had fallen in love with was once a small boy who doted on his mother, Rosemary. So close was the boy to his mother that on one occasion, when he was asked to sit on the steps of the family house for a few seconds for a photo, he began to whimper because he could not be close enough at that moment to his mama. His sour expression is caught for eternity in the snap of that camera's shutter.

Rosemary Rooney told me this story with a sense of pride when I visited with her and with some of Sean's siblings in Buffalo in October, and she showed me that photo. She clearly relished the closeness she shared with the young Sean, and this closeness lasted until the very end of his life, on September 11, 2001.

And as Beverly grew to love Sean in the months after they met, she also grew to love Rosemary, who opened her house and her heart to her at a time when openness and warmth were in short supply on the home front for Beverly. In the Rooney household, Beverly was charmed by the relaxed, lively and generous spirit of a family in which good food was shared at the dinner table, along with large helpings of love, good humor and mutual respect between each child and parent. Beverly told me how loving and gregarious Rosemary was, what an easy, informal and good-hearted relationship she had with Sean and her other children.

Rosemary Rooney passed away on December 13 at her home, among children she loved so dearly. News of a grave illness came out of the blue a few weeks previous, and so her family had time to prepare for the inevitable goodbyes. They had a chance, a welcome, precious time to return a small portion of the great mountain of love she had doled out during her long life to Sean and Beverly and all her children and grandchildren and others close to hear large and generous heart.

The departure of every soul from this sweet earth is different. We never know whether there will be time to say goodbye to those who hold a part of our hearts. Best, then, to cherish the ones we love each day, so they always know, no matter what happens, how much they mean to us.

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