Kathleen Dennis O’Hara, 91, went to be with her Lord and was reunited with her husband, parents and many precious friends Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.
To her family, she was the epitome of strength and grace under the most pressing of circumstances. In 1948 at age 21, only a year after her marriage, she contracted polio. Although we, her three children, never saw her walk, we never thought of her as handicapped either. She cooked, cleaned house, hung out clothes, raked leaves and even moved furniture. To us, the wheelchair was just how she got things done.
What was most remarkable about her was she was joyous. She was an upbeat, happy person who loved to laugh, one who had a wonderful sense of humor. Our house was the neighborhood gathering place when we were young because she greeted everyone with a smile that said, “you are welcome here.” She attracted friends in great numbers. Not surprisingly, people who were hurt and broken in spirit were especially drawn to her because she accepted them as they were and tried to meet their needs by listening to them, encouraging them, and, when needed, reminding them that God was able to address all wounds, no matter how devastating.
She was a wonderful wife. Our parents’ marriage was a testimony to commitment, even under the most trying circumstances. She was also a selfless mother who always put her children first. She learned to sew so that even with scarce financial resources her daughters would always be well dressed. She collected dimes and those dimes underwrote our college education.
At age 50-something she took a full-time job, proving once again the wheelchair was not an insurmountable barrier. She taught us the value of hard work, gentleness, kindness and compassion and that laughter is often the best medicine. She showered her grandchildren with that same selfless love. To her grandchildren, she was Nanny, and they returned her love with their whole hearts.
We who are left behind are simply heartbroken by our loss, comforted only by the fact she is most assuredly with God our Father. We, her survivors, are her three children, Kathy, Mickey and Kelly; daughter-in-law, Cindy, who was really the daughter of her heart; and four grandchildren, in order of birth, A.J. Bulman and Garrett and Shae and Reilly O’Hara.
As a family, we thank the many people who loved and supported her during the last few years of her life when her infirmities were most painful. There are too many wonderful friends to list in entirety, but we especially want to acknowledge Bill Bunch and Shiquae “Sugar” Morse, who never stopped working to make her life better during her time of great need.
The Bible tells us that “he who is first shall be last and he who is last shall be first” and this statement is a testament to our mother, our grandmother. In this life, she never obtained fame nor fortune, but everyone who knew her was fully aware that she was one of the most remarkable people to ever live.
The family will receive visitors from 4 to 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, at Smith & Williams Funeral Home/Kempsville, 4889 Princess Anne Road. Services will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17, at the funeral home. Burial will be held Tuesday, Feb. 19, in Jerusalem Methodist Church Cemetery, Parsonsburg, Maryland.
Share online condolences with the family at Smith & Williams Funeral Home/Kempsville.