When it comes to religion, do not mess with my Grandmother. Margaret O’Neil prayed and went to church more than anyone I know. She took it very serious too. When I was seven, my Dad let me receive communion when I was not suppose to. She did not speak to us for a solid week after that. When she would come up to Maine from her home in New York, she would always say, “Hi there, when's the next mass”?. My mom would always go with her, and my Dad and I would stay home, she would get mad at us again. Whenever we went to New York for Christmas, it was always the same thing every year, Christmas Eve Mass. Our whole family did not want to go, but we did it for her. Somehow she thought we all actually wanted to be there.
She takes her prayers and saying grace more seriously than anyone. I once made the mistake during grace of saying “thank you for having us together, and the Yankees suck”. I am not sure if she was more mad about me ruining grace, or making fun of the Yankees. One day I walked into her room before bed to say goodnight and she was as usual praying. I noticed she was holding a cross and some beads. I asked
“Gram, what are those beads”
“These are rosary beads, they all have a different prayer associated with each bead, I say them every night. The Rosary can be said alone or with groups of people usually said out loud at church ” she answered.
“That’s awesome! Why do you use the beads?” 7 year old Ryan answered
“Well, they were given to be by my Grandmother when I was a teen and she told me to keep them with me wherever I go and to pray every night. It helps remind me of her”, She told me.
I learned from my Mom that she carried them everywhere she went. Ever since my Mom was young, Gram always had them. During the day she kept them in her purse and at night in her hand over her heart. No matter where she went they were always with her. When she would drive to Maine, she would have them close in hand.
At her funeral this past September, she was at peace with all her favorite things. This included pictures of all her kids and grandkids, The Bible, Yankees hat, and of course, her Rosary Beads. She was able to carry what she always had with her up to heaven. During her Funeral Mass, when it was time to go up for communion, I had to pause for a moment. Should I go up or stay here to make sure she doesn't get mad again?
I asked my older cousin Dan “I’ve never done this, should I still go up?
He responded laughing “Yeah, just don’t let Gram find out”.