But I’ll talk about my family a little bit instead. The Walsh-Hayes-Quigleys are depicted here. Michael James Walsh married my lovely grandmother, Anne Hayes. Anne came to the U.S. on her own at a young age (that was never clear to me – she could have been 16 – she could have been 19) from a tiny village, Cooga Doone, in Western Ireland. Her sister, Margaret Hayes, also came to the U.S., I’m not clear on her story, either – Walsh story-tellers (Devin!), please help me out here.
I loved my Auntie Margaret – she was a real character. She was a diabetic but had it “under control,” because “you want to know why, Patty Ann?” (I was “Patty Ann” in those days) “No, why Auntie Margaret? (Already knowing the answer because we’d had this conversation 60 times already.) “I carry a little packet of Lifesavers! Why do you think they call them Lifesavers?” Then we (my brother Michael and I) needed to do the obligatory chuckling at her wee funny. We didn’t mind – we thought she was great. She used to come and stay with us at my Nana Walsh’s little cabin in Northern New Jersey, named “Cooga Doone.” Auntie Margaret used to have half a ciggie and a glass of whiskey before she went to bed every night, although she “didn’t smoke or drink,” because “that stuff will kill you.” May she rest in peace.
But backing up a few decades, shortly after she had moved to the states, Margaret married Dennis Quigley and had a son, Dennis, who had the brightest red hair I’ve ever seen. I never met Dennis Quigley the first, as he passed away before I was born. We used to visit Auntie Margaret and Cousin Dennis at their apartment in Queens, and I always thought that was such a big adventure.
My dad’s dad, Michael J. Walsh, also died before I was born, unfortunately. He was what they called “Black Irish,” – a rather ambiguous reference to people of Irish descent/heritage who have black hair and darker features. It’s a term that’s actually not used much in Ireland. There’s a lot I don’t know about him; I’m not certain if he was born in Ireland or the U.S., what he did for a living, and even how he died exactly. I think he had a hard time with the bottle and his life. My dad, who was the oldest in the Walsh family, didn’t talk about his dad very much, and I think he harbored a lot of feelings of pain about him.
Nana Walsh was a lovely woman and I just adored her with all my heart. She cooked and cleaned for the rectory in her church for as long as I can remember. She had four kids with Michael: my dad, Nancy, Jack, and Cookie (her nickname – her real name is Mary Eileen). They raised the kids in (mostly) North Arlington, New Jersey, and they all went to Queen of Peace Church. My brother Michael and I used to get to stay with Nana Walsh occasionally at her apartment (I used to think apartments were the greatest things when I was little.) She’d fix us nice cups of tea (of course) and we’d eat little butter cookies and try and get her parakeets to say stuff to us.
I drink lots of nice cups of tea almost every day, and think about Nana Walsh with nearly every cup.