When anyone in my family thinks of St. Paddy’s Day, they always and automatically think of Grandpa. Michael John Flanagan’s proud Irish heritage never shone brighter than on St. Paddy’s Day each year. Knowing absolutely nothing about his immediate or extended family, Michael clung desperately to his Irish roots.
Patrick Thomas Flanagan (abt. 1897-1928) died on 23 December 1928 from tuberculosis, just two days before Christmas, plunging his family into a series of events that would leave the children orphans. My grandfather, at just 1-1/2 years old, never knew his father.
My grand uncle Harry. J. Flanagan is the only sibling of my grandfather’s for whom I cannot confirm parentage. Both of the parents he claims were married to their first spouses at the time of his birth. And he is the only sibling for whom I cannot locate a birth or baptism record.
Patrick is the only one of my orphaned grandfather’s siblings I ever met. I remember Grandpa crying when Uncle Pat died. Grandpa was crying over the loss of his brother. But, more significantly, Grandpa was heartbroken over the loss of the only biological family member with whom he ever had a real relationship.
Did my great grandmother Sarah Kennedy ever divorce her first husband Frank Ward prior to marrying my great grandfather Patrick Flanagan? Sarah and Frank were still living together in 1920, when the first child of Sarah and Patrick was supposedly born.
Let me proclaim here and now that my Mom makes THE BEST pumpkin pie and THE BEST pie crust in the world. Hands down. Even people who don’t like pumpkin pie like hers. Mom learned how to make her perfect pumpkin pie and perfect pie crust from her mother, my grandmother Elsie Charlotte HAYES (1926-1992). Grandma was a terrible cook (terrible is an understatement)! But, the lady could bake…especially pie!
My grandparents Michael John Flanagan and Elsie Charlotte Hayes moved across country, with no job and no money, for the health of their oldest child. Homeless, they first lived in a tent, then in a post-WWII quonset hut.