List #242: Grandpap McNally

My mom's father passed away in December. He was sharp as a tack until his very last day, and passed away in his sleep overnight. He was 88 years-old, a member of the Navy, a Duquesne University graduate, father of 15 children, grandfather of nearly 40 grandchildren, and great-grandfather to 12 great-grandchildren. He was an accomplished man, but his greatest accomplishment, which he would surely tell you...was his family.

When my grandmother passed away from cancer just months before I was born, my mom (the middle child) was already out of the house. Though the death of her mother happened at a very young age, she was starting her own family and wasn't living at the family house anymore. But there was a house full of children and teenagers who were suddenly without a mother to take care of them. My grandfather was a single dad who took care of everyone. He loved singing, and laughing, playing cards, and was always generous.

My grandfather wasn't the kind of guy who took you out on weekend trips or hosted sleepovers at his house. There were too many of us, quite frankly. But he knew all of our names, where we worked, who we dated, and more. There was never a time that I talked to him where he didn't ask me how the library was doing. And he always laughed at stories I would tell about working with the public. He had a jolly Irish laugh. I will miss him, surely. But his was a life of celebration, no matter the circumstances. And that is something I will try to remember.

This past weekend my family got together to have a celebration of his life. It seemed fitting that the weather was gorgeous and that over a hundred people came out to join in celebrating his life and sustaining his memory. Most of our family, even those far away, were able to come. Plus friends and other people he met and enjoyed along the way. It was worth the wait to say goodbye to him in this manner. And I can only hope that when my time on this earth as run out, that my legacy leaves such a mark.

James P. McNally

My cousin and her husband put this video together. And I love it because I love seeing how beautiful and charming my grandparents were as young loves. I love seeing my family through the years. And how much my grandfather loved us all back. 

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