Two scrapbooks full of cards! The pages are falling out. The pages are brittle. My chair and floor are littered with brown chips of scrapbook pages whenever I handle these books. But already I have a new impression of the kind of woman my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh was. I had always imagined a stern matriarch, cold and demanding, a faithful Catholic, judgmental of anyone who strayed.
However, these cards reveal a much warmer and more loving woman than the one I created in my mind. The cards are witness to a close and loving relationship with her daughters, her sister, her nieces and nephews. Mary Theresa was loved. She was sentimental. She loved her family beyond measure.
The scrapbooks also hold clues that have answered some questions about Mary Theresa’s sisters and their families. A card from “Sr. Vincent Carmel Byrnes” – why, that’s Sadie BYRNES, not Sadie BURNS like someone had written on a photo (I knew Sadie grew up to be a nun). A card from “Pat and Peggy Byrnes” – could this be Sadie’s brother? Indeed it is. That helped me find Sadie’s family, but that is a story for another day.
© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.