Yesterday, my husband and I spent the afternoon helping a friend compose the obituary for her husband. His untimely death—as are all passings—will be hard to accept, even though his lingering illness gave ample forewarning. In writing that short statement, the summation of that brief life of only forty six years, it is so difficult to recall that the remembrances we create today serve not only those who are here in the midst of this difficult moment, but many unseen others yet to come. What is written now will remain for the benefit of those future generations.
Yet, so often in turmoil, we seldom do look beyond the present. Perhaps it is our humanness in the face of loss that makes us forget that Time still moves on.
In this series of photographs I’ve shared over the past month, we’ve all benefited because one woman took the time to preserve what was important to her. Though this woman would never be able to cite every name of those of her descendants living in our present time, in a way, she thought of us.
By thinking of us—her future—she enabled us to think of her.
And so, as I wrap up this series, it is fitting to spend a short while learning the rest of her story.
|Edna Tully McCaughey 1890 - 1976|
Edna Tully was born in Chicago in 1890 to William Earl and Sarah Swanton Tully. Edna's father, having been born to Irish immigrant parents in Ontario, Canada, moved with the majority of his siblings to Chicago, where he met and married Edna’s mother. As seemed to happen often in those times, William died at a relatively young age—forty six—leaving his widow with four surviving children. Edna was the seventh of the original eight children, and the only one to marry.
Edna’s mother, though never remarrying, kept close ties to family members, primarily those on her own mother’s side. Perhaps it is from this propensity that Edna, herself, gained a determination to preserve family heritage.
|Michael J. McCaughey 1886 - 1942|
Edna married a handsome young immigrant, one born in England to Irish-heritage parents: Michael J. McCaughey, described by one family member as “a truly exceptional, charming man.” The date for their special event was June 17, 1914. From this union, they were blessed with six children—three sons and three daughters. The two became lifetime residents of the Chicago area, with Michael ultimately serving as president of his own company.
Sadly, as Edna’s mother and grandmother had experienced before her, Edna was widowed at a relatively young age, with Michael’s passing at the age of fifty six. Something, somehow, from that spark of determination demonstrated in her youthful diary entries and in her diligent music practice, kept inspiring Edna to persevere. As one of her sons-in-law later wrote in tribute, “Edna was a woman of great courage and strong opinions who always wanted things to turn out right, according to the great traditions she inherited. No matter what happened, she stayed right-side-up and plowed ahead.”
It is to this steadfast personality that we owe the gratitude for preserving what she felt were the important tokens of her life. In a way, by choosing to pass these photographs along, she did so as someone who was thinking beyond herself—thinking of us. She did so as one who had faith in her future.
And I, for one, am grateful for that.