Mary O’Shaunessey looked down at her husband for what she knew would be the last time. Gerry was taking his last breaths In This Life.
As she, his dutiful wife, sat along with their six children and the local priest – Mary reflected on the two decades that had brought her to this point.
She had barely been out of Catholic school when she had first met Gerry – a man then in his late thirties. He had recently divorced his first wife, as she had not borne him any children.
But over the next decade, Mary had made up for that. She had popped out babies with monotonous regularity.
Five of them were bright and brawny, but Ronan had always been sickly. Thin and nervy, he was the runt of the litter – and not the sharpest tool in the box, either.
And she could see her husband’s eyes raking the children now, as he prepared to Meet His Maker.
Suddenly, gathering his remaining strength, he raised his head and called his wife over. She bent to catch his last words.
“Mary,” he croaked, “I have to know – it doesn’t matter now – is Ronan really MY child?”
“Of course he is,” Mary replied.
Satisfied, her husband relaxed, sank back onto the pillow – and with one last strained gasp, exited This Place.
The children got up, passed their father and filed out, leaving Mary alone with the priest. He ventured, “Sure, that was an unusual question to ask, about the boy.”
Mary nodded – and the priest left her alone with her husband.
Standing over him, she murmured,”It’s a good job you didn’t ask me about the other five – I’d have hated to lie in front of a priest.”
[It’s the way I tell ’em.]