The opinions, remembrances, reflections, and wisdom of the mother of five homeschooled children as the last one leaves the nest and the ranks of the grandchildren begin to grow.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
THE 2010 GATHERING OF THE DANAHER CLAN AND A TRIBUTE TO ROSEMARY
It’s 12:30 a.m. and David has finally decided to venture into the circle of musicians to join Matthew in a song by Brand New. The music has been going strong for two hours with one Danaher after another taking the helm, singing songs to a cadre of guitars and one fiddler. Tim Danaher is on the piano and has decided he is in the mood for Over the Rainbow. This is the highlight of every evening. After all of the hugs, kisses, and catching up - the impromptu concert tops off the day nicely. We parents marvel at the talent of the grandchildren of John and Rosemary Danaher especially since none of us can play any instruments. Mostly the Danaher siblings and their spouses are known for their singing. The two exceptions being Sheila’s husband, Bill Mautino, who takes the lead in playing guitar, and then there is me, the anti-Danaher, who couldn’t sing to save my life. When John Sr. was still alive, any gathering on Glenwood Avenue included many rounds of traditional songs especially if Jim Roddy, John’s favorite neighbor, joined us for the afternoon.
The grandchildren have evolved past the barbershop-type sing along. Tom’s son, Michael, has a band called Rabbit Children and they are as good as any I have heard coming out of IPods around the house. My boys have a band that has spent the better part of a year recording original material. Work and school have delayed their unveiling in concert. Aside from contemporary music, Dave is a bagpiper and Matt has mastered Scottish snare drumming and bluegrass mandolin. Rachel and Rebekah are musically gifted, one a bagpiper and guitarist. The other dabbled in Irish fiddle, but can play the hammered dulcimer. Someday soon I hope she’ll drag it out from the basement. Maggie of course is the clan fiddler, having started her competition career with a 120 yr. old fiddle belonging to ancestor Patrick Danaher, son of Irish immigrants in Leeds, Illinois. Sheila’s daughter, Mara Mautino Hayes, is ½ of Just Jade, keeping busy gigging in and around Phoenix. Mara’s voice is exceptional. All four Mautino children are talented singers and musicians, but only Mara takes it to the stage and studio. Bill Danaher’s son Tim is devoted to music and has even written the score for a musical performed in Steubenville, Ohio along with many of his high school classmates. Daughter, Katie Danaher, is a vocalist. Jim’s son, Joey, plays guitar and sings. Mary’s daughter, Kaylyn, although only 11 yrs. old, is a serious vocalist and doesn’t hesitate to belt out a Disney show tune when we all get together.
These reunions usually begin with a Friday night gathering at Tom’s house for snacks, pizza, salad, beer, wine and sweets. It is almost overwhelming trying to catch up with everyone. I do believe Facebook has been a big help in keeping the clan informed of general activities, making it possible to avoid the obvious “What’s been going on all year?” and getting right down to specifics. Tom and Trish’s house is perfectly suited for the group with a large yard to accommodate badminton, croquet, and a sandbox for the babies. Mostly we gather on the deck, but the kids tend to spread out to play various games. After all the eating, games, and talking, the music begins and continues well into the night. The twenty and thirty something cousins will stick it out for as long as they can, hating the thought of parting - even to sleep.
On Saturday we gather in the breakfast area of the hotel with the male cousins meandering into the room last of all, looking very tired. Matt looks more than tired. Disheveled would aptly describe him. Little ones head for the pool. Older ones head for miniature golf or stay at the hotel playing cards. This year our Saturday gathering began several hours earlier in consideration of the elderly cousins of John Sr. who made the trip to celebrate, not only the reunion, but Rosemary’s 90th birthday this year. June (Smithberger) and Maury Miller drove in from Dwight, Ill. Maxine (Smithberger) and Joe Gilbert made the trip from Madison, Wisconsin. Most importantly was the presence of Aunt Gert (Danaher) and Chuck Howell. Gert is John Danaher’s younger sister and the family historian. She has spent the better part of her retirement researching the family tree. Not only has she sifted through records in central Illinois to validate what oral history has given witness to over the decades, she and Chuck have traveled Ireland and Bavaria to sift through their records, making sure that the family line and history was properly chronicled.
Due to 2010 being Rosemary Danaher’s 90th year on God’s green earth, all of the children and grandchildren made an effort to be here for the family reunion. Everyone of them made the trip. The atmosphere was lively as everyone conversed and enjoyed watching the great-grandchildren form the bonds with their age mates that their parents have formed with theirs. A scan of the photos will show that most of the great-grandchildren are girls. What fun it was to watch them dashing through the large garden, never experiencing a dull moment. Well into the dark night, while the older cousins sang and strummed guitars on the deck, the little girls (and Noah) were flitting around the house and garden immersed in games only they could explain. This is the 2010 version of the gatherings that occurred in Rosemary’s house on Glenwood Ave. when John and I were just having our children. (See the Feb. 2010 post – John’s Irish Rose) The focus here though was different. Instead of simply reconnecting, we were on a mission to pay tribute to the daughter of Irish immigrant Bridget Higgins, wife of John Danaher, the mother of ten children, the last Catholic in America, and according to my husband’s power point production, the most Conservative Woman in the World. Loved, admired, and respected, her children and her children’s children still rise up and call her blessed. She is the model for all we do and the reason we are steadfast in our faith.