I opened the email and read the news that Gick had died:
My mother, Margaret Rosemary Theresa Kelly Moder went to heaven Monday morning at 9:12AM. We had just left her side when it happened.
Gick was my Grandma Babe’s cousin. In the picture above, Gick sits between her husband Ed and her sister Mary. My Grandma Babe sits over to the side.
Gick’s mom and my great grandmother were sisters. Gick’s mom was May and my great grandmother was Nellie. Nellie was the eldest. Nellie Hanley married Harry King. They had two children: Dr. Edward P. King “Bub” and Mary King “Babe.”
When Nellie was 50 she had surgery to correct a deviated septum. She died shortly after it of meningitis. Babe was 18. Her dad would last only three years without his Nellie. Bub was already in the Navy. Babe went to live with Aunt May, Uncle Tim, Mary, and Marge. Aunt May was a fighter. She argued with everyone, especially her sisters Nellie and Agnes “Ag.” May was the baby of the family of six children, so you know she must have been tough to take on Nellie (11 years her senior). But she took in Babe. Babe always felt that Mary (seven) and Marge, aka Gick (five) were like her little sisters.
Marge was a “gal.” She loved her bicycle. She and her cousin Bece once rode their bicycles from Chicago to Wisconsin. Bece got a terrible sunburn. Marge, with her beautiful Irish skin somehow fared well. Marge boxed, too, if you can believe it.
Marge always had dogs. She and her kids once brought a carload of turtles home from a vacation to Fenton, Missouri. She and her kids also had pigeons (Homer and George) and a crow (also George).
Mary was the one with all the style. According to Marge, Mary always knew how to tie a scarf to make an outfit. Marge loved her leather coat with a fur collar so much that she wore it on the train during the summer! Before such a thing as air conditioning. But Marge was fascinating in her own right, without resort to the slightest artifice or fancy.
Marge met Ed at the Rathskeller. He was on his way up the stairs to leave with his friends as she was walking in with a girlfriend. He looked at his friends and said, “That’s it.” He turned right around and followed her down the stairs. It was love at first sight. He walked Marge and her friend back home at the end of the evening. She appreciated the escort. Ed was “charming.”
Of course, she didn’t want anyone to know they met in this way. So she concocted a better story for her four children and waited until they were older to tell the truth–like when they were all adults! She told the kids that she met Ed at a USO event. For their 40th anniversary, her son Tim ordered some minted coins bearing the USO emblem on them to commemorate that meeting. That’s when Marge finally admitted that the USO had nothing to do with her having married his dad.
Ed invited Marge to travel to Monmouth, NJ for his receipt of his second lieutenant Army orders. May let Marge travel with a friend’s wife. Ed offered Marge a ring. Marge told Ed, “A girl likes to be asked.” So he formally proposed. Marge accepted. Ed later trained at Harvard University. Marge married Ed at the chapel at Harvard University in front of eight witnesses in military uniforms.
Ed was in the United States Army Signal Corps. He served overseas in Shanghai. But he was there when she needed him. They raised four children. I’m not sure how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren she lived to hold in her arms and love. Those grandchildren and great-grandchildren called her “Gick.”
When I was a kid Babe and her husband Kayo, Mary and her husband George, and Marge and her husband Ed were close friends. They used to get together to play cards and drink and laugh. They called these events “meetings of the Cousins’ Club.” The six had lots of fun.
The Cousins’ Club plays cards: From left to right: My dad, Mary’s shoe, Marge, Ed, my mom, George, and Babe. Kayo was the photographer.
We lost George in 1974. We lost my Grandpa Kayo in 1986. Mary died suddenly and dramatically in her doctor’s office in 1990. Ed died in 1993. Grandma Babe died in 1996.
Marge and Ed had a long life together, but he died long before she did–in 1993. She died May 6, 2013, moments after her family left the room. I hope Ed came for her and she just said, “That’s it,” and followed him.
I could not make it to her funeral. I wish I had been there. My mom cannot stop talking about how Marge’s kids chose a green casket, because Marge was so proud of her Irish roots. Her entire family sang a song written for her to the tune of Danny Boy (my mom’s favorite song). And they ended the service by singing every last verse of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling:
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling There's a tear in your eye, And I'm wondering why, For it never should be there at all. With such pow'r in your smile, Sure a stone you'd beguile, So there's never a teardrop should fall. When your sweet lilting laughter's Like some fairy song, And your eyes twinkle bright as can be; You should laugh all the while And all other times smile, And now, smile a smile for me. Chorus When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter You can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy, All the world seems bright and gay. And when Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, they steal your heart away. For your smile is a part Of the love in your heart, And it makes even sunshine more bright. Like the linnet's sweet song, Crooning all the day long, Comes your laughter and light. For the springtime of life Is the sweetest of all There is ne'er a real care or regret; And while springtime is ours Throughout all of youth's hours, Let us smile each chance we get. --Chauncey Olcott, Geo. Graff Jr., & Ernest R. Ball
We’re smiling through our tears. The Cousins’ Club is back together again.