Farewell O’ Fairest and Finest Matriarch

‘Marie Theresa Caraher took over the kitchen in Heaven on February 14, 2012. God awoke on Valentine’s Day, smelled Mother’s cinnamon rolls, and said, “This is good.” She, God, got up, went to the kitchen and said, “Welcome. I hear they called you the Scrabble Queen on the celestial plane from whence you came. Feel up to a game?”

So began Marie’s obituary…

David’s mother (who lived in Arizona her last 17 years) passed away in her sleep early morning on Valentine’s Day. When I awoke at 7AM at home in Idaho David was already up. I found him sitting in quiet repose at the kitchen table. “Mother passed away last night.”

‘…Marie was 99 when she died. She was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa on September 27, 1912. Her father died when she was five and her mother gave her up a few years later. She grew up on a farm south of Council Bluffs, Iowa, cared for by her Uncle Chris and Aunt Annie. In spite of the fact that she was the fastest runner in her grade school and excelled at school work, she was not allowed to attend high school; her foster parents could not imagine how education could be useful for a woman….a bitter lesson that Mother never forgot.
So instead of going to high school, Marie milked cows, worked in the hay fields, cooked for thrashers, and spent her teenage years being groomed to be a farmer’s wife. But she never stopped reading…’

David and I decided immediately. We must travel to Arizona for her Memorial. Megan was up by now. We broke the news to her. She opened the Valentine’s gift we had left for her on the table.

The new stuffed puppy offered little comfort, albeit we chuckled at how much it looked like Rudy, or Rudy looked like it, for a moment, before he jumped down and dashed over to the cat bowl and licked it clean.

‘…She married a farmer, Thomas Fenton Caraher in 1932. And, Oh my, what a revelation it was for both of them. They became a couple. Child bride though she was (she was 19, he was 40), Mother was free. And with a man who loved her. Their early years together were spent on a farm south of Council Bluffs. Later, as their family grew, they tried city living in Council Bluffs itself. It didn’t take. In 1956 they moved to Jamaica, Iowa, and shortly thereafter to Bayard. A third of their brood of 11 children had flown the nest by then. But there were still seven young boys in the house…’

David was born in the middle of the brood. Child number … 8? The four oldest were daughters, followed by seven sons. David was the fourth son.

‘…Tom died in 1963. It broke Marie’s heart, though she, having known so many hard times, tried never to show it. Someone accused her of not crying at Tom’s funeral. Her tears were there; just not shown. Nearly fifty years later, one hopes they’re reunited in tears of joy…’

David was 16, the oldest child at home, when his father had a massive stroke and died. Marie was 50. David had to step into his father’s shoes. He planted the corn that year, albeit, when the rows grew tall, they weren’t as straight as David would have liked. 😉

‘…Marie remained in the Bayard area until 1994. During that time she did an admirable job of raising sons who were, uh, let’s say, a challenge. Subsequently to being known as the Mother of “those boys” she became known for her singing, her flowers, and her sewing, and (to some) for her Scrabble ruthlessness (“It took you that long to play THAT!”). Though widowed, she reveled in the freedom to try new things (albeit from economic necessity): She was a cook at the Bayard school and a cook at a fraternity (she understood boys) at Iowa State University. But the best job – she loved this job – was as a part time librarian in Scranton. It completed the circle of her lifelong love of reading…’

I collected photos from our walls at home to take to Phoenix to display at the Memorial.

‘…In 1994 Marie moved reluctantly to the Sunbird Golf Resort in Chandler, AZ to live with her daughter
Pauline. (Mother, you’re 82. We worry about you being alone in the Iowa winter). Their patio was adjacent to the tee box on the 4th hole of the golf course. Marie enjoyed looking down the fairway and pretending it was her back yard…’

David, Megan, and I hit the road for Chandler, AZ on Wed. morning, February 15. For the next six hours we drove mostly through rain, drizzle, sleet, but finally, heavy snow in southern Utah …

which, according to a sign we just passed here, off to our right is the town of “Snowfield.” Duh.

It’s a fifteen-hour drive to Marie and Pauline’s. We stopped in Vegas our first night. Stayed at the Rio:

view from our room

We arrived safely in Chandler, Arizona, (just south of Phoenix) on Thursday.

‘…But it wasn’t Iowa. And the soil! Bit of heartache there. She finally did manage to produce a wonderful set of flower gardens, again reveling in learning, study, and perseverance. She was shamelessly thankful for things she’d never had before: A dishwasher and an automatic garage door opener…’

Here’s a photo of their home in Chandler. Marie loved her flowers.

‘…In her last year, Marie’s health deteriorated, yet she remained unbending to conventional wisdom – she still got on the plane and traveled. She became more dependent on others, especially Pauline, and, while grateful, was uncomfortable with becoming a burden…’

Marie had flown up to Idaho for six days this past December to spend Christmas with us. At age 99!

Here she is December 26, 2011,

with our son, Ben. (Just seven weeks ago…)

…But she was never heavy. She’s our Mother…’

‘Marie was preceded in death by pretty much every one of her peers (99! You rule, Mother!), her parents, her husband, Thomas, her sister Ana Nansel, son James, and daughter, Rosemary King.
She leaves her sister Mae Green behind and nine children missing her: three daughters, Catherine Rahn, Pauline Caraher, and Margaret Larocca; and six sons, Tom, Ed, David, Jerome, Dennis, and Paul, 27 grandchildren, 37 great grandchildren and 18 great, great grandchildren.’

A Memorial in Chandler was held on Sunday, Feb. 19, for family, and friends in Phoenix who knew Marie her last 17 years. Another Memorial will be held in Bayard Iowa at the end of July.

We headed back to Idaho on Monday, Feb. 20. David did all the driving. And the gassing up.

We enjoyed the scenery in Northern Arizona and southern Utah.

We drove the fifteen-hour drive straight through, without stopping to browse at

Browse, which, why would we if there’s no services?

We arrived home close to midnight this past Monday night.

A large wind came up yesterday- the largest wind we have seen in a long time. I took a video of it
when I coaxed Rudy out in it to go potty (turn up your sound and watch it till the end):

That’s about a 70 mph wind gust you see at the end of it – a wind that toppled trees and limbs all over town. (Albeit with near-50 degree temps that melted all the snow – temps that are virtually unheard of this time of year.)

Looks like wind, but sounds a bit like … ocean?? (CLose your eyes and listen again?)

Which … Hey! Whatdoyasay we venture back to Hawaii? I’m sure Marie’s on board with us!

I haven’t yet told you, have I? About our last day on vacation in Kauai?

One Response to “Farewell O’ Fairest and Finest Matriarch”

  1. Malou Says:

    She’s at peace now with our dear Creator.

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