THE wave of grief which engulfed Thomastown and surrounding districts on hearing of the death of Mary Roche gave testimony to the esteem in which she was held. One of the best known and loved members of our community, Mary, departed this life on Saturday, March 3rd, after a considerably short battle with an aggressive and terminal illness, which she bore, with dignity and acceptance.
She was a serene and calm woman. Her home was an oasis of peace and quiet for family and friends, in the noisy world outside her door. One could not count the number of people mostly women, who called to Mary on a daily basis. This was mainly due to the fact that she provided an invaluable service to the people of the town and surrounding villages. She was a skilled dressmaker, seamstress and upholesterer. In the up and down world on fashion hemlines, Mary was the expert. Even for the men, the length of the trouser leg was of military precision. Hanging at half mast was never an option.
But dressmaking was only one of Mary’s talents, albeit a most important one ,she also held what might be considered an unofficial and impromptu support clinic, for many of the women who had experienced similar health traumas. She was to them, a beacon of hope and gave great encouragement to all, who were often in dire need of inspirational words in dark times.
Mary had numerous friends across the social divides and generation gaps, as was evident at her funeral. She made debs dresses for graduates, outfits for weddings and other occasions and alterations of all descriptions. She made curtains, cushions and upholstery for big houses and little houses, she saw the two sides and as it says in the Gospel, she knew how to be rich and she knew how to be poor. She knew how to empathise and celebrate. She was in fact, to many people a woman for all seasons.
The saddest day in Mary’s final journey was the day she made the heartbreaking decision to return all unfinished work to her clients, the women and men whose garments were stored in labelled bags in her sewing room.
Naturally like most people, her work was a major part of her life and so it would seem on that day, she let go of all worldly responsibilities and prepared to return her noble spirit to the universe. To her family and friends this was the beginning of the end, a devastating scenario, and for those closest to her, a total wipe out.
But Mary was never one to wallow in grief and sorrow. Though not a woman for rituals of any kind, she was known to have great faith, She believed in the power of prayer, and had many handwritten books of prayers and novenas, collected over then years and share with like minded friends.
Like most women she enjoyed the occasional shopping spree wit her family, even travelling to the Christmas markets on the Continent. If ever there was a Christmas person, Mary was one of them. Believing that “Christmas was a gift to those who accept it”.
She took great joy in her children and grandchildren, She had every reason also, to take great pride in their achievements and successes. But pride was not a word in Mary’s vocabulary , so she counted her blessings with gratitude, and took nothing for granted.
In her final days she organised the birthday gifts for her three young grandchildren and saw to it that all practicalities were in order. The story of Mary would not be complete without considering the selfless care and concern, both herself and Pat had for their neighbours, friends and extended family. Helping others was never a burden. Rather it was a privilege and a joy. They both found humour and wit in most situations, without ever invading the privacy or dignity of others.
To Pat, Lucy, Valerie, Bobbie. To the cherished grandchildren TJ, Millie and Luke and sons-in-law Tom and Owen, we offer our deepest sympathy. We pray that the dark times will pass, and give way to brighter days. Let us not forget that Mary was a cheerful, optimistic woman of faith. Her wish for her loved ones, would be that they continue on their journey with hope and Christian fortitude. We all know that Mary will be an irreparable loss to Pat and family, to all who knew her and to the community in general. All will agree that we will not see her like again.
Ni bheidh a leitheid ann aris