Obituary of Mary Jane MacDonald
Mary Jane (MacGillivray) MacDonald, a resident of Burlington for 65 years, past away at the Lexington Health Care Center on Friday evening, January 12, 2007. The wife of the late Joseph C. MacDonald, who passed away in 1969, she was 93 years old. Mary Jane was born and raised on the family farm in Nova Scotia Canada. She was one of eleven children born to the late Daniel R. and Mary MacGillivray. Mary Jane came to the United States at the age of 19. She eventually became a citizen of the United States, which made her extremely proud. Mary Jane and her husband settled in Burlington where they raised their four children. She devoted her life to creating a loving home for her family. She loved to cook for her family and enjoyed baking biscuits and pies. After her husband passed away Mary Jane purchased a cottage in Arisaig a small village in Nova Scotia Canada. She spent many summers at her cottage where she enjoyed spending time with both her family from Canada and her children. She had visited her home in Arisaig as recent as this past summer. Mary Jane was a loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who will be missed by all those who loved her. Mary Jane is the beloved wife of the late Joseph C. MacDonald. She is the loving mother of Ronald & his wife Joanne of Nashua, NH, Margaret & her husband Robert G. Watkins of Burlington, Nancy & her husband Joseph Flynn of Woburn, Joseph C. & his wife Theresa of Nova Scotia, Canada. She is the sister of Aubray MacGillivray of CA, George MacGillivray Catherine MacDougall, Margaret Chisholm, and Theresa MacDonald all of Canada and the late Lawrence, Alexander, John, Donald, and Raymond MacGillivray. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Funeral from the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (Exit 34 off Rt. 128, Woburn side) on Wednesday, January 17 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Malachy’s Church at 10 a.m. Visiting hours Tuesday 4-8 p.m. Interment in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Burlington. Memorials in Mary Jane’s name may be made to St. Malachy’s Church Memorial Fund, 99 Bedford St., Burlington, MA 01803. Bob Watkins, Jr. Eulogy Thank you all for coming here today to celebrate the life of Mary Jane MacDonald. I’d like to say a few words…My name is Bob Watkins Jr. and Mary Jane MacDonald is my grammy. I remember as a little boy, visiting my grandparents…in the hallway on the telephone table between the kitchen and the livingroom, there was an aluminum TV tray. Maybe you remember it - maybe you don’t. Anyway, I liked it because grammy’s picture was on it. Except one day, my mother informed me that it wasn’t a picture of my grandmother at all. It was a picture of the Queen of England. Well, I guess it was an honest mistake – I was just a kid. But I know the difference now. Grammy would never be happy stuck on some tray in the hallway. Unlike the lady on the tray, there was nothing fussy, fancy, or phony about her. Mary Jane MacDonald was real. From down east, she was down home and down to earth. In 1913, Mary Jane MacGillvery was born into a hard-working farming family in Maryvale, Nova Scotia. As the oldest daughter of eleven children, I sure she had her share of good times and hard times. And she had her chores, taking care of the housework and taking care of her brothers and sisters. When she was a young woman, she met my granddad, Joseph MacDonald, and they fell in love. Now I wasn’t there, but I bet he was a handsome young man with a nice car (I think we can all agree that Mary Jane had an eye for handsome men and nice cars). It must have been hard for her to leave her mama, papa and her brothers and sisters, but Mary Jane was always ready for new adventures in new places. One day, she finished her chores, packed her things, moved to the states, settled down in a house on 30 Bedford Street in Burlington, Massachusetts, where she lived until a short time ago. Mary Jane MacDonald soon started her own family. She had four beautiful children; Ronnie, Peggy, Nancy and Joey and in time, her family grew to fifteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren. What I remember most is that grammy always had a full house. If there was holiday or a special occasion, we usually spent it with Mary Jane MacDonald at 30 Bedford Street. Even on a regular old Sunday night, there we were, watching Ed Sullivan, or playing cards or just talking. And Mary Jane MacDonald was in the middle of it all, making everything seem special and everyone feel at home... Even though Mary Jane MacDonald didn’t always have a lot. If she only had five bucks in her purse, she’d give it to you. If there was only one cold beer in the fridge, it was yours. If you were hungry, before you knew it, there’d be a chicken dinner on the table with all the fixings. And her famous Queen Elizabeth cake for dessert. I don’t know how she did it, but that’s grammy. At the age of 55 with her life settled and retirement smiling down on her, her husband Joe, the love of her life, passed away. Now I don’t remember it well and can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for poor grammy. But Mary Jane MacDonald was strong and wouldn’t want pity. Soon she had a job, she saved up her money and started on a new adventure. She built a wonderful cottage in Doctor’s Brook, Nova Scotia, so she could be with her brothers, sisters, her family and her friends in the summertime. She was remarkable that way. Nothing got her down or kept her down for long. I think that grammy touched us all and taught us all, in her words and through her actions. For example, she taught us to dislike the guys who criticize and minimize the other guys whose enterprise is to rise above the guys who criticize. So true. And just as importantly, she taught us how to live, to love and to laugh. Mary Jane MacDonald wasn’t afraid to take chances. From the big ones (like coming to Burlington to start a new life or building her own dream cottage later in life) to the small ones (like playing Candlepins for Cash, Dialing for Dollars, Bingo, and the lottery). She taught us that life is about taking chances. And if things don’t work out, try again. Don’t lose hope. When life handed grammy lemons, they usually ended up in one of her cakes, served with along side a chicken dinner. Yes, Mary loved cooking and her cooking shows. Mary Jane taught us that life is an adventure and to always be ready for anything. For example, if you were looking for your car keys, by the time you found them, she had her coat, hat, purse and was sitting in the car, waiting for you. She taught us to throw ourselves into everything we do. I know she did, because she was usually covered in bumps and bruises and black and blues. And she wore them like badges of honor, proof that she was strong and that she was a fighter. If you don’t believe me, you obviously never arm wrestled Mary Jane MacDonald. She had a great sense of humor and taught us to laugh. Not to worry about the small things, so that we’d always have the strength to make it make it through the big things. Not to worry about looking foolish. Grammy was able to laugh at herself, teaching me that only a real fool would be afraid of looking a little foolish from time to time. Last Friday night, my sister was visiting grammy, going through all the photos of us, reminiscing with grammy about her wonderful life. I suspect that my sister and grammy had another visitor in that room that night. And the visitor said, “Mary Jane, your chores are done here, so let’s go for a ride and start a new adventure (it was probably a handsome man with a nice car).” And in a split second, Mary Jane MacDonald grabbed her coat, hat and purse, jumped in the car and was ready to start a new adventure, most likely with some familiar faces. I can just imagine her now, playing with Lady, her cockerspaniel and the cats she loved, including Pudda, Polly, Shieba and Angel. I can also see granddaddy playing his violin for her, Chris playing cribbage with her, and her brothers playing practical jokes on her. And there’s Mary Jane MacDonald, in the middle of it all - dancing a jig, shuffling the cards, and laughing as hard and as hearty as anyone can imagine. God bless her. So Mary Jane MacDonald never got her picture on an aluminum TV tray. And she was never the Queen of England. To us, she is so much more. She is forever the queen of my heart. Queen of the MacGilverays, the MacDonalds, the Watkins, the Flynns, and all her friends and family who have gathered here today. We will forever carry a picture of her in us and her life lessons with us as we journey through our lives. And if you look to the back of you, the front and to each side of you, you’ll see Mary Jane MacDonald…she’s in each of one us. Maybe she left abruptly without saying goodbye, but I know my grammy. Mary Jane MacDonald was a little stubborn…she would not have left us unless she knew she would see us all again. And through my faith, I know this to be true. Sooner or later, Mary Jane MacDonald will greet us again, with her hearty laugh. She’ll make us feel at home, just as she did before. I just bet that she’s ready and waiting for us, with a cold beer in the fridge, a chicken dinner on the stove, a Queen Elizabeth cake on the table, and a few bucks in her purse, just in case. Because that’s who Mary Jane MacDonald was. And that’s who Mary Jane MacDonald will always be. A wonderful daughter, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend. And my grammy…a wonderful woman who lived (and still lives) a remarkable life.
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050