Joanne Clarke is a valued member of the Walk For Alzheimer’s Christie Pits volunteer Walk committee, and will be Walking this year in honour of her aunts. This is her family’s story.
Team Loch Sheelin walks in honour of the lives of our father’s two sisters, Nancy and Mary Kathleen. As the youngest of six children raised on a farm on the shores of well-known fishing lake, Loch Sheelin, in County Meath, Ireland, our father, PJ, has fond memories of both of his sisters and how the love, care and respect they gave him contributed deeply to the man he is today.
His oldest sister Nancy Callan, raised five children in nearby County Cavan and was an active, well-respected member of her community who was known for her generosity of spirit, gentle talent raising the animals on her family farm, and artistic creativity. Our father still talks of the butter she churned.
His sister, Mary Kathleen, chose a different life and joined the Sisters of Mercy following World War II in Colchester, England eventually taking her vows as a Nun under the name Sister Mary Francis. She worked tirelessly in her community as both teacher and principal of the convent school and was also known for her intelligent mind, quick wit and generous spirit.
They were both accomplished women of their time and remained tremendously proud of their youngest brother who left tranquil green landscape of Ireland in 1957 for the rugged beauty of Nunavut, Canada working on Baffin Island for almost 3 years.
Our father, PJ, returned to Ireland and met our mother Mary Comaskey. Together our parents raised the three of us in south Scarborough. In the spirit of the Irish saying, Céad Mile Fáilte, meaning 100,000 welcomes, our home welcomed many visitors over the years from Ireland and beyond, including Smiths, Callans, the Irish Comaskeys, the New York Comiskeys and countless others. The vacuuming and ironing were always done, the kettle was ready and a chair waiting for a good chat with the newest visitor. Through these visits we learned the art of Irish story telling from our parents and the joy of sharing memories of a hard fought battle won, a humourous moment and sometimes the comfort of talking of a shared sorrow.
We walk in memory of our Aunt Nancy and Aunt Mary Kathleen and ask for your support of Team Loch Sheelin to ensure research continues into slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s for our family and yours.
Aileen Smith, Sean Smith and Joanne Clarke