On Thursday, November 8, my grandmother, Bernadette "Chubby" McAleer, passed away. She was the loving wife of Joe McAleer (you can read about him here) and mother of 7 children, 20 grandchildren, and 33 great-grandchildren. Over the past few days I have been reflecting on her life and what she taught us all. I believe her greatest gift to this world was the way she lived out her vocation as a wife and mother. Her vocation was her path to Heaven. Grandmommie grew up and continued to live her life as a devout Catholic. She went to Catholic school and then said "yes" to the boy next door (literally), who was the love of her life.

They both said yes to life and God's will for them by welcoming seven children into the world. She spent the rest of her life cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, giving hugs and kisses, and sharing laughter and tears with her family. She prayed often and always offered up any suffering up to God. She had a strong devotion to Our Lady and to the Eucharist.
During her final days, she had her children by her side. Early Thursday morning, around 2 am, her children were called to come say their good-byes. She was showing all of the signs that her time had come. After they all kissed her, they went into the other room, made some coffee, and prayed, reminisced and laughed together as they waited. Around 5 am, the nurse went to update them and told them that all of her color was back and that their voices and the sound of their laughter were keeping her here. After all, she was and forever will be their mother. Her life's work was raising them and then supporting them as they had families of their own. For the rest of the day, her children quietly prayed and at 1:58 p.m., right after they finished a Divine Mercy Chaplet, Grandmommie took her final breath. And then, simultaneously, her children applauded her. Her life was beautiful and so was her death.
Grandmommie's life was simple, but full of love. She was and will continue to be a role model for me, especially as I continue my path as a wife and mother. I am sure there were many hardships and I know she wasn't perfect, none of us are. But I know that if she fell, she got back up and when her time to leave this earth came, she was ready. The story of her death also reminded me of what is important in this life. There is that old saying, "You can't take it with you." At the end of her life she had given away most of her possessions and what she had left was the love and support of her children, their spouses, her grandchildren, their spouses, and her great-grandchildren.

She and Grandpa gave us many gifts. They were full of life and knew how to have fun. They gave of themselves and were generous beyond measure. The best gift, however, is knowing that they are now both up in Heaven praying for all of us. Blessed John Paul II said, "Do not be afraid to become saints." I am so grateful they weren't afraid and I pray that my family will live the same way.


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