Post 6 - A Glimpse into the Past - Cousins

-15 April 2013
Before getting into today’s post, we were going to update you all on the marathon training progress (another 20 miler for both Heidi and I this weekend).  In light of what happened in Boston today, marathon training seems rather trivial.  So instead, we want to direct our thoughts to the city of Boston and those impacted by today’s tragedy.  We hope for the safety and speedy recovery for anyone harmed in the attacks, our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and witnesses to those who were not so lucky, and finally,  thank you to all of those who were there to help.

Post 6  - A Glimpse into the Past - Cousins
No matter if you are 6, 16, 36, or 66 – your mom is still “Mom.”  I will always find it fascinating to hear about my mom’s life before motherhood.  That she had a life before motherhood.  Mary Margaret was a sister to John Flanagan, a daughter to Jack and Marge, a friend and cousin to dozens.  She skipped rope, collected baseball cards, helped with chores, fought with her brother, looked after her brother and so much more.  She went to prom and nursing school and travelled to California with her best friend.  Mom was a person, just like you and me.
Today’s post – as the title clearly suggests—takes us back to before FTD; before mom was a Mom.  
~Thanks Marie~

            Hello, my name is Marie Flanagan Majarov and I live in Winchester, VA with my husband Milan, nearby our daughter, Vicki and grandson, Jake.  I am Mary Flanagan Hall’s oldest cousin -- actually, among us Flanagan cousins I am everyone’s oldest cousin!  To have Mary (always Mary Margaret to me) taken from us by a devastating illness, FTD, has been one of the saddest experiences in my life.
             I have seen the pain in her family through the years as I know and love Mary’s mother, my dear Aunt Margaret, and I knew well her grandmother and Uncle Steve – all also tragically afflicted with this terrible disease.  At the time of Nan Marcin’s and Steve’s illness its full devastating hereditary component was far from being understood - or even imagined.      
            My being the oldest kid in the family has had some wonderful perks.  One, when I was but a few years old, was getting to visit many places with Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jack (Mary’s mom and dad) and spend wonderful times with Mary Margaret’s grandmother, uncles, and Aunt Ann swinging on the best back porch swing ever!  And oh the treats -- kiffles and poppy seed rolls and many other unbelievably yummy things made by Mary’s Nan Marcin.

            I am 4 years older than Mary Margaret.  She was such a beautiful little baby, and her arrival so exciting.  As a little girl Mary Margaret had the most gorgeous blond hair I had ever seen. Truth be told, I was jealous of that golden hair. It wasn’t long before we were playing, fast friends – and sitting together on that Marcin swing.  
           When Mary was 3, we, with my brother Frank, got to stay at the Emmetsburg (PA) Inn for the wedding of our Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary Lou. The Inn was huge, amazing, and elegant; we were all sure we were in a castle and played accordingly.
           There were hours and hours that we played house in the unfinished attic in Mary Margaret’s Hatboro home with its treasure trove of toys and spaces for setting up great play fantasies.  I would often spend the night with her.  Soon Mary’s baby brother, John, joined us. I can remember standing with Mary Margaret next to the cradle, in which at one time all of us Flanagan cousins, and our parents’ generation before us also slept, looking on at John dressed in his fancy christening suit.   
Uncle John (brother) and Mary Margaret (Mom)
           Our families were close. There were much anticipated family picnics, dinners, and vacations in a charming older Victorian home on NJ’s Long Beach Island where more cousins:  Molly, Reene, Hugh & Colleen, Uncle Jim’s children, joined us.  Early on we would swim in our small back yard pools, and as we grew we would spend a week each summer with our Wilson, Glah, and Moyer cousins at the Wilson’s home and lake.  A special treat was an overnight visit and walking to the circus with Nan Flanagan when Mary moved to Delran, NJ.  
           Even washing dishes at holiday gatherings was fun because we were doing it together – and many pictures recorded Mary Margaret and I helping.  The one here shows our grandmother Flanagan, me a junior in HS, our Aunt Kay, and Mary Margaret in 8th grade.  Fun memories!
L-R: Nan Flanagan, cousin Marie, Aunt Kay, and Mary Margaret (Mom) - May 1964, in Nan's kitchen, Seneca Street in Fountain Hill, Bethlehem. 

            As time passed there was nursing school, college, marriage, and children.  Megan & Adam, (Christina, you were on the way) and my Vicki, also enjoyed a little back yard pool at the Hall home with Mary Margaret and I chattering and enjoying our children much as our mothers did years before.  Unbeknownst to us all, Primary Progressive Aphasia and Frontotemporal Dementia were not far off… more about our later years and the painful good-byes during the course of Mary’s illness in a future post. 
           For me, Mary Margaret’s children and these happy memories are the treasures in which she will always live and be in my heart.  Please help get the word out about this life-shattering, degenerative brain disease so people will understand and support the research to find answers that can assure Mary’s children and grandchildren that they will have long full lives ahead of them, free from FTD.    
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