Bridget Laura O'Shea - January 28, 1937 - November 21, 2017
Tribute to Mom
Bridget, or 'Laura' as she was affectionately known, was born into an Irish legacy of love, loyalty, and laughter. She embodied these virtues throughout her long life. Her mother, the quick witted and vivacious Alice McDonnell, met and married the tall, handsome Michael Fahy, and took over the beautiful family farm in Belclare, in County Galway. The family had a long tradition of enjoying the Irish pastime of horses, even allowing the famed Galway Blazers to ride to the hunt over their farmland. That tradition continues to this day in the Irish branch of the family. Alice and Michael had eight children, Ethel, Stephen, Michael, Joan, Anthony, Bridget, Anne, and Martin. Laura adored her brothers and sisters, and took great pride in their accomplishments, as well as those of her nieces and nephews. Growing up on the farm, family life revolved around hard work, honesty and integrity, study, the Catholic faith, and long evenings drinking tea and laughing around the fire in their thatched cottage.
Laura attended Belclare Primary School, Presentation Convent School, and then went to England to attend Wolverhamption University, attaining her degree in Nursing along with her sister Ethel and her dear friend and cousin Trixie. They worked in the same hospital in England, enjoying many laughs and adventures.
Eventually Laura decided to give America a whirl, and headed to Maryland, where she worked as a private nurse. She loved her work, but the lure of New York City in the swinging sixties was too strong to deny. She switched gears to become an Administrative Assistant in Manhattan, where she met John O'Shea. John was also a native of Ireland, from County Kerry, and he swept her away for their first date to a picnic at Rockaway Beach in his red Ford Galaxie 500. He worked as a technician for Bell, and was a strong supporter of his Union as well as fighting for freedom and social justice in Northern Ireland. Love conquers all, and they were married in April of 1967. In April of 2017, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
Laura settled down to raise four children, Lorraine, Maureen, Audrey, and Dennis. She and John made sure that their children were raised to embody the values they brought from Ireland: hard work, respect for scholarship, honesty and integrity, the Catholic faith, and a sense of humor. The family circle expanded to include dear friends who were soon drawn in and became family members, enhancing and elevating the circle of love, loyalty and laughter around Laura and John and their children.
Despite the fact that she frequently stated her belief that animals really belonged outside, she cared for and loved the menagerie her husband and children brought home, from the baby alligator (who took up residence at the Bronx Zoo after outgrowing the Manhattan apartment); to Teddy, the noble Rottweiler; Rusty, the fun loving hound; and Scruffy, the tiny Yorkie terror. Of course, cats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, lizards, snapping turtles and a one-legged pheasant found their way home to the big house in Riverdale...all the way down to the pesky Zebra finch.
Throughout her life, Laura brought the courage and bravery honed by her Irish heritage to every challenge she faced. She relished battling New York City bureaucrats and won the vast majority of the time. She loved deflating the pompous with her scathing wit, but no one ever had a finer champion. She brought the same fighting spirit to her 1981 battle with cancer and the many other health challenges she faced throughout her life.
Laura and John were overjoyed when Billy Willsea and Michael Mangan joined the family, but their happiness was complete as the grandchildren appeared. Keira, John, Ryan, Jonah and Katie were truly her absolute greatest happiness and source of pride. She adored them and was enchanted by everything they are.
There is an old saying, "Call no man happy before he dies; he is at best but fortunate." Laura had her challenges, her trials and tribulations on this Earth, but she lived a truly blessed life. Her last day was spent in happy anticipation of the annual Thanksgiving feast, surrounded by her husband and all her children and grandchildren, just as she had for the last five decades. She left us after spending her final day shopping, then chatting with her children, family, and friends. She treated herself to a slice of pumpkin pie with her after dinner tea, went to bed with the man she loved for over fifty years, and went peacefully to sleep for the last time. She was a unique and brilliant woman with a quintessentially Irish perspective on life. We are blessed to have cherished her for so long.
The wake will be at Riverdale-on-Hudson Hudson Funeral Home from 2 - 5 and 7 - 9 on Friday, November 24th, and the Mass will be at St. Margaret of Cortona Church at 9:45, with interment immediately following at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.