Maggie Hanrahan is the matriarch of a local clan and a beloved character in her own right. Maggie and her colorful husband, the late Bob Hanrahan, raised their seven boys and two daughters in Oak Park. The couple later moved to Mt. Carroll, where they were part of the fabric of that community for two decades.
Four years ago, Maggie moved to Forest Park and lives above her daughter, Maisie, and her grandson, Michael. As usual, Maggie reached out to the community. She used to teach bridge with me at the library. We didn’t get many students but enjoyed delightful talks about my parents. The Hanrahans and my folks were best friends.
Maggie has been a ball of fire all these years. She played golf into her 80s. She traveled extensively and hiked up hills in Ireland. She is always up for a game of bridge and looks like a million dollars. If there were a fashion magazine for older women, Maggie would make the cover every month. She is a wonderful cook and the quintessential Irish mother, staying calm in the midst of chaos.
Besides all her accomplishments, there are a few things she quit doing, which are also impressive. Though she loved every puff, Maggie quit smoking in later life. She said it was a “miracle” when the urge to smoke suddenly left her. She also quit drinking on the spot when she recognized it wasn’t good for her. Maggie’s willpower is astounding
Though she missed her friends in Mt. Carroll, Maggie’s family was happy when she moved to Forest Park because she is so much closer to her kids and grandkids. She loves living above her daughter and preparing meals for her grandson. She is the glue that keeps the clan together. Maggie emphasized the importance of family so much, there was never any true dissension among her kids. Sure her sons had their squabbles on the playing field but they have an intense loyalty to family and treat their mother like royalty.
When Maggie has had health problems, her kids and grandkids dote on her around the clock. She is grateful for how well they treat her. We recently shared a laugh about how these “wild hippies” had turned into such caring people. I told her she wasn’t the only “miracle” in the family. I said the nurturing she and her husband had given their kids was the reason she was getting so much love in return.
Those of a certain age remember mothers like Maggie, raising large families in south Oak Park. While she was accomplishing the impossible, Maggie would also take in kids in need. There was always an extra seat at their table, and I took advantage when I could.
Maggie is 89 years old now and no longer preparing those feasts. But her life has been a feast. She takes a big bite out of life every day and savors every minute. I just spent an afternoon with her. She was supposedly in poor health but her spirits were excellent and her mind as sharp as ever. We discussed family, films, books, politics, and religion.
After an hour, she kicked me out but not without a kiss goodbye. Bless Maggie. She shows all of us what is important — love of God, family and friends — and hitting a drive right down the middle of the fairway.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.