ForeverMissed
A birthday note from Dan...

As many of you know, Colleen's birthday is on the 28th of November. The 28th falls on Thanksgiving day this year and it also fell on Thanksgiving day in 1968--the year that "our precious little girl" was born. I use the phrase "our precious little girl" because it's the term that Dianne and T often use to refer to Colleen. I think about that a lot, it's so fitting and means so much to me.

Colleen's October 12th services in Buffalo were beautiful. Shortly thereafter, the majority of her ashes were interred in a McMahon/Prorok family plot in Nativity Cemetery in Orchard Park, NY. If you are ever in the Buffalo area, please visit our precious little girl. 

The Monday after, I got a call from the Broward County Medical Examiner. With utmost professionalism, he informed me that Colleen's official cause of death was ruled as  "Undetermined". Her body had no lethal injuries and, more importantly, toxicology showed no alcohol or unprescribed medications. Finding no alcohol in her blood is such a victory for Colleen, a victory she will have forever. She finished her life on this earth with 14 months of sobriety. 

I'll leave you with a birthday gift from Colleen (we all know she loved giving gifts). It's a poem by Mary Oliver and was one of Colleen's favorites. It so eloquently distills the essence of our precious little girl. 

PERCY, WAITING FOR RICKY 

Your friend is coming, I say 
to Percy and name a name 

and he runs to the door, his 
wide mouth in its laugh-shape, 

and waves, since he has one, his tail. 
Emerson, I am trying to live, 

as you said we must, the examined life. 
But there are days I wish 

there was less in my head to examine, 
not to speak of the busy heart. How 

would it be to be Percy, I wonder, not 
thinking, not weighing anything, just running forward. 

*          *          *          *          *          *
Colleen loved and was loved. She was exuberant in life and persevered through many challenges. She loved her parents Dianne and Terry, and brothers and sister, Kevin, Tim and Erin. She was a wonderful mother to Jack and Emma. She and Dan married in 1990 and loved each other and grew so much together. Her caring attitude extended beyond people to animals. She raised her Rhodesian Ridgebacks from puppies and--today--when we say the word "Mommy?" to them, they cock their heads, whine and look to the front door. There wasn't a stray dog on the highway she didn't want to take home and one instance she did (Sugar). 

Colleen had so many friends who helped her through the most-difficult times of her life. She was constantly grateful for that. Emma, Jack and Dan are also so thankful for the kindness and support.

When you walked in the room, you knew she was there. Her personality was magnetic and infectious. A smile and hug from her lasted the entire day.   

In lieu of flowers and gifts, please consider a donation to Wayside House, 378 NE 6th Ave, Delray Beach FL 33483, www.waysidehouse.net. They are a small, local organization providing quality services to women in need. We've donated many of Colleen's clothes and other personal belongings to them as well.
Posted by Terence McMahon on August 22, 2020
[With tears streaming as I listen to NEBRASKA our first shared song!]
My dear Colleen,
I heard your voice in the wind today
and I turned to see your face
The warmth of the wind caressed me
As I stood silently in place

I felt your touch in the sun today
as its warmth filled the sky
I closed my eyes for your embrace
and my spirit soared high

I saw your eyes in the window pane
as I watched the falling rain
It seemed as each raindrop fell
It quietly said your name

I held you close in my heart today
It made me feel complete
You may have died... but you are not gone
You will always be a part of me

As long as the sun shines
the wind blows...
the rain falls...
You will live inside of me forever
for that is all my heart knows
Love Dad


Posted by Tim McMahon on August 21, 2020
-Friday, 8/21/20, a moment

Look at what the light did now…

It’s the anniversary of losing my beautiful sister. A warm and still southern sunset awaits as sitting on the back porch this evening, gathering strength through a soulful “Yacht Rock” playlist (yeah, am not kidding), and awash in feeling Colleen takes me to a mix of emotional places. Dwelling about it, telling myself trying to make sense is probably pointless. Can’t shake that, so… what else? Everything else? No, but many things ‘else about her rushing around. Moments. We want so many more that we’ll never have. 

The Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love? plays over the top of the staccato din of cicadas, cardinals, wrens, and mockingbirds. To get indulgent about answering that song’s question to her: ‘Hey Col, I hope you know it’s so deep that I can’t stand it. If we could give it (our love) all to you in any and every moment of stress and conflict you coped with so bravely, would it have healed you?’ 

With or without us, she was strong and singular, handling as deftly as can be imagined her own challenges, all the while keeping unconditional that eternally maternal instinct to love people.

I think Col would find this moment hearing beautiful harmonies (ex. Kenny Loggins Heart to Heart), memorable bass lines (ex. Commodores' Easy Like Sunday Morning), ethereal pitch and inflection (Stephen Stills’ Singing Call), and lyrical saxophone intros to a simple and important message (ex. England Dan and John Ford Coley’s Love is the Answer), all the while watching the kittens climb straight up the porch screen bemusedly chasing birds they won’t reach (and puzzled on how to get down)….

I know she would find this an at-home porch concert and spectacle worthy of the reminder to stay grounded and cherish life’s simplicity.  She was all about a day’s end absorbing music, pet activity, and mellowing into an evening.  An example like this of life’s simplicity and accepting what it gives you, embracing it for just what it is wasn’t always there for her mind but I know firsthand that she cherished moments like this.  She needed moments like this to get ready for the battle tormenting her mind.

We dearly missed her at Chautauqua a few weeks back - as it was the last time and place we were all together a little over a year ago.  But we felt her presence then, as I do now.

Teary-eyed, I’m in a connected place with her. This happens enough, as I know it does for my parents and siblings, but this one is a bit more pronounced. I want to capitalize and get it to recur, to bring on her essence, her vibe, with all its laughter, sarcasm, and complexity, whenever I can. Capture it, bottle it, and open it when needed and bring out the love which wrapped her own essence like her powerful hugs.

I don’t have a different message, just expressing from a big heart that misses her. Hope that’s ok and that you put a little of your ‘Colleen’ on and share her spirit of unconditional love with another person, plus an animal :) 

And don’t be afraid to get yourself some Bee Gees from time to time or be bashful about showing others how deep your love is.

Tim
Posted by Terence McMahon on August 21, 2020
It’s a year of memories, so many happy ones as I look at the photo gallery again and again. But in truth I am very sad. Colleen is a part of who I am. may sound selfish. When an illness strikes, attack it, do all you can to cure it. Was there more that could have helped Col to be with us longer, to see and feel the beauty that is life on earth? 
With faith that she is experiencing peace and love in another place in God’s care I(we) can continue to have hope that we will be there together one day .
From your birth on Thanksgiving day til you left us with so many memories, thank you Col for being our daughter.Mom


Posted by Kathryn Guerke on August 21, 2020
Dear Dan, Emma, Jackson and Family,
It was one year ago and I was here in Asheville that I heard the tragic news of Colleens passing.
She was a shining light in all our lives. Her energy excitement love and enthusiasm radiated to all around her. There were moments when Colleen and I would visit that we could not get a word in edgewise for both of us had the gift of gab and so much to catch up on in a short amount of time. So we would just end up talking over each other and giggle the whole time. Maybe it was the fact that we were both true Saggitarians and our birthdays were just days apart that our energy level was so similar...if you believe in that stuff!! 
Either way I miss Colleens quick talking gatherings, quick thinking thoughts and her quick loving mind... 
Posted by Rajendra Ranganath on August 21, 2020
My prayers for dear sister who left us a year ago. PEACE BE ON YOU
Posted by Terence McMahon on April 23, 2020
Thanks Tim. You said it so well that my tears are running down my face. Her house would look like Noah's ark and she might not care what the authorities said as long as her loved ones were protected!
Posted by Tim McMahon on April 22, 2020
8 months ago today we lost my dear sister and she's been a heavy reminder of late that it's about the fact that we're all in this together. Though she never wanted to bring others down with what she was dealing with, keeping much to herself, she still did awesomely. In a conversation in my head with her today, I smile and laugh at how she would have said something like "hey Tim, I'm no role model on how best to socially distance because I wanna take care of of people and/or pets if I can and am needed"...... Oh, you'd be needed Col, and would have a house full of animals and maybe people, and as busy a calendar as ever. You might even be reprimanded for not adhering as strictly as required to the rules of keeping a safe social distance and related protocols, but you'd make others feel your care and concern deeply and memorably.....which you'd gladly accept as a worthy tradeoff without a second thought.
Posted by Melissa Prorok on February 22, 2020
T that was beautifully written. I will always see and feel Colleen through the sun. She was a bright and shining person who made a lasting and loving impression on so many that she touched. 
Posted by Terence McMahon on February 21, 2020
Today is the 6th month anniversary of "our precious little girl's ' leaving us!
As the clouds gather here in South Florida people ask how are you doing? While the hole in my heart will never heal I feel some days of sun. Recently I had a birthday celebration with phone messages from my sons and dinner with my daughter Erin and Colleen's son Jack and it made me feel good for a while. But the clouds came when I remembered that she used to be here celebrating with me! The sun shines when I am happy that her suffering ended 6 months ago! The sun shines with so many good memories of being here with her since my retirement! I force the sun to come out when I do something to make a person happy as she asked in her message at her funeral. I force the sun to come out when I thank God for giving me my precious Coleen for 50 years!! I write asking God that you who loved her have days of sun in her memory and fewer days of clouds!
T.McMahon


Posted by Tim McMahon on January 21, 2020
Missing my sister all the time and especially today, given that it's been 5 months since her passing, as well as Emma's birthday. We love you Emm, Happy Birthday! Keep that indomitable spirit going that your mom passed on to you with her special aplomb and grace (your middle name).

Dan began his solo sailing expedition on his sloop, Hazel James, the other day and there was a poignant quote he referenced in the blog that I can't get out of my head (thankfully). It's attributed to Dr. Seuss, (who can also go by Dr. Zeus in my book). It says “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Colleen made things happen, mostly for other people's benefit. As hard as it is, I am trying to smile because of that, but always end up crying. 

If you want follow Dan on his adventure, the blog is https://hjsailing.blog
Posted by Rajendra Ranganath on January 4, 2020
This is Raj from India.

I have known Colleen, my sister, during her India stay days. This was complete shock for me as I knew her well, experienced her kindness for friends. Unfortunately I came to know of this very late.

I pray for Colleen. Hope Dan and children will have strength to bear this loss.

Best for Dan, Emma and Jack.
Posted by Tim McMahon on November 28, 2019
Missing my great sister extra on this special day. She was, and still is a beacon of light and love. She cherished this day because it focused on family and friends, not because it was her birthday.

Remember the love she spread to us all and share it with others.

Thank you for your heartfelt and touching wishes. They mean so much.

Peace
Posted by Kristen Aley Walker on November 28, 2019
Thinking of the Coates and McMahons today.... sending love on this special day.
Kristen
Posted by Melissa Prorok on November 28, 2019
Happy Heavenly Birthday to my niece Colleen who was beautiful inside and out. I am a better person for having had her in my life. Thanks Col.
Posted by Anne (Clough) Kidney on November 28, 2019
Happy Birthday Col. Focusing on blessings today, and you’re at the top of the list ❤️
Posted by Sean McMahon on October 17, 2019
Thank you to the "Buffalo" McMahon's for all your hospitality during the celebration of life for Colleen. She was a dear, sweet cousin and during many Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Fourth of Julys, she was like my younger sister. I remember that she was a phenomenal athlete and could routinely beat me at tennis and golf. She was often picked ahead of me during our softball games at Lake Chautauqua. She played second base while I was relegated to right field, playing under the big tree where many balls got lost in the branches. Colleen had a warm smile, a great laugh, tons of energy and a compassionate heart. Although it was sad to hear many of the shares during the ceremony, it was a reminder of how many lives she touched. She will be forever missed.

Love - Sean McMahon
Posted by Phillip Aron on October 16, 2019
I am sorry to be posting so late. I just heard that Colleen passed from several mutual PointChau friends this weekend. I guess I am still stunned and in shock. As I write this, I just finished reading all of the beautiful stories posted and looking all 244 photos on my large monitor at work, with tear-filled eyes making them harder to see. But my blurred vision couldn't hide Colleen's exuberance and effervescence from shining through those images and remembrances. My deepest most genuine condolences to the whole family. My wonderful memories of Colleen at the ballfield, and at the Point will live on forever. I'll let the rest of the Aron clan know the sad news and send them the link to this website which so wonderfully captures and portrays how how truly special Collen was to all of us who knew her. God's blessings to all of you.
Posted by Dan Coate on October 14, 2019
Please see the “Life” section of this site for Emma, Jack's eulogies of their mom, T's eulogy of his daughter, and Dianne's story of Colleen's early life.
Posted by Maureen Garlock on September 11, 2019
Dan, Jackson, Emma, Uncle T, Aunt Diane, Kevin, Timmy, and Erin praying for comfort and healing. With love, Maureen (Col's cousin form Maryland)
Posted by Jessica Loeb on September 9, 2019
I feel grateful that I crossed paths with Colleen in her last two years of life. Although I know those years were often not easy, her struggle was beautiful. She was truly making progress against internal odds that I can only fathom, for that and more she has my lifelong respect. Although many never reach the top of Mount Everest, no one can take away the views seen along the way. I am grateful that Colleen had moments of healing and connection in these last years. I hope they were transcendent.

Colleen ate from the buffet of life and truly embodied the word gifted. From academics, athletics, tennis, running, reading, knitting, cooking, baking, drawing, journaling, poetry, entertaining, traveling, shopping, enjoying movies and TV, music, dancing, caring for animals, socializing, you name it! While her time on earth was cut too short, she truly packed it in in the years that she had. Her life was like the dense fantasy novels she read and loved, full of adventure, daring, twists, turns, ups and downs, mysteries, many interesting characters, and divine lessons learned.

The way she lived and especially the way she brought other people in to her life will stick with me and continue to inspire me for the rest of mine. Although Colleen was masterful at all that she did, it is really so true: "People will forget what you said, will forget what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." Although she is gone physically, her memory is here spiritually and emotionally, continuing to inspire, especially through her amazing children, family members, and friends. Her vulnerability bred intimacy.

Colleen knew that I loved quotes, poetry, little bits of wisdom. She asked me to share with her what I came across, in hindsight, probably because she thought it would make me feel special and included. That was her way. A few months ago I shared a poem with her that I will paraphrase: "Life loves broken things. Life takes broken clouds to make rain, broken soil to make grain, broken grain to make bread, broken bread to give strength, broken people to heal the world." In our fix-it culture the word "broken" gets a bad rap, but I think broken is under-rated, it is one end of the spectrum and one side of the coin. Our muscles break and mend many times throughout our life to make us strong, as do our hearts. Colleen was nothing if not strong.
Posted by Lynn Klotz on September 7, 2019
So many have already said what I knew and loved about Colleen although its been awhile since we'd spoken; its wonderful to hear more recent news & stories. We had a lot of fun on the Point, enjoying music, watching our toddlers together in the sand & water. I'm just heartsick for Dan, Jackson, Emma, all of the McMahons and Coates. Godspeed Col. You are missed already and your light still shines.
Posted by Kathryn Guerke on September 7, 2019
Dear Dan, Emma and Jack,
I have been so distraught since I received the call from Dan on August 21.
Colleen was so loved by all of us. She loved us back unconditionally. Emma you were your Moms superstar! Jackson you were the apple in your Moms eyes..and Dan, the rock who kept all of you together.
We all believed in Colleen, I only wish she believed as much as we did in herself.

She was so talented whether it was athletics, or creativity. Never a project that was too much for her..and her passion for animals was over the top. A true love of all creatures big and small.

I think of her daily and it brings a smile to my face to picture her giddy giggle and her willingness to do anything, just to be together.

Please know that i am here for all of you if you want to reach out...
we loved her so much and will miss Colleen forever...
 
Posted by Jim McMahon on September 5, 2019
As I read the many stories of my cousin Colleen, I am deeply saddened and yet choosing to remember the precious slices of time spent with her as a gift. I will remember Colleen as I knew her- a very warm and genuine person who made you feel happy when you are around her. I remember most her smile and energy. The D.C. McMahon’s will always remember the summers, Easters, and Christmases with a smile on our faces. Colleen is a very important part of our families lives and will be missed greatly and remembered always.
Posted by Maureen Mcmahon on September 4, 2019
To the Coate and McMahon Families - Colleen was such a beautiful young woman - she will forever be missed and in our hearts.  My love and prayers go out to the family.  Aunt Maureen
Posted by Mark Werner on September 3, 2019
Dan, It is abundantly clear what a deeply loving, caring and passionate woman Colleen was. Her many gifts shine through you every day. While I never met Colleen, I know through you, your grace and compassion, that she was a wonderful wife, mother, friend and companion. May her beauty, grace and wisdom endure through all she has touched. With my prayers, Mark
Posted by Derek Michal on September 3, 2019
Dan-
Derek and I are keeping you and your family in our hearts.

With Love- Michal Beiningen
Posted by Saad Chaudhry on September 1, 2019
Dan, this was such a sad and shocking news to hear. Our most heartfelt and deepest condolences to you and the rest of the Coate family. Wish Hina and I could be there in person for the services planned in Colleens remembrance. We're sending you our thoughts and love from the other side of the world. Love, Saad and Hina.
Posted by Donna Lunn on September 1, 2019
Dan, my dear friend, I am so sorry to hear the news. As many have already expressed Colleen was an amazing women with a unique style and energy. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Emma, Jack, and Colleen's family. May she rest in peace.
Donna and Steve Lunn
Posted by Melissa Prorok on August 31, 2019
My beautiful niece Colleen, she had an infectious smile and laugh that lit up the room. Colleen made people feel important and special. We are all better people for having known her loved her and had her in our lives. My niece my hero!
Posted by Anne (Clough) Kidney on August 30, 2019
Sending all my love to Colleen’s wonderful family. My heart is broken for all of you. I know the absence of someone so beautiful and loved so completely is unbearable. Growing up, and I’m sure still today, the McMahon’s home was our collective home too... and by “our” I mean Nativity’s Class of ‘82! It remains to this day the ONLY home I was ever allowed to sleep over... for Colleen’s Bday party. Years go by in a blink... seems like yesterday we played with Barbies in the front yard (got caught by Kevin w/ the Barbies smooching), ski bus & chasing cute EA boys, HS proms... and then life got so “busy.” Col’s “started” so many years before mine did with marriage and kids... and I’ll always regret not keeping in touch in our later years. Still - and I think this is true of our entire class - we share a bond that will never be broken. We laugh the same, have the same loves, priorities, work ethics, senses of humor, even mannerisms. We were SO blessed with the gift of Nativity that our parents gave us. Colleen will always be in our hearts and part of who we are - as will the entire McMahon clan. I believe Heaven is all around us, and she surely will be guiding us through our days and showing us the beauty in the world and the joy that can still be found.
 All my love and hugs. -Anne
Posted by William Dorfman on August 29, 2019
Let her memory be a blessing. Rest in peace Colleen
Posted by Kristine Miller on August 28, 2019
Is there anything like when Colleen saw you and her face opened into this sincere million dollar smile, and you could feel how much she loved you? Like the sun came right out of her. And when Col listened to you talk about something that was bothering you it was like she was trying to hear your feelings in your words and she looked at you like she wanted to read your face so she could understand how you felt. She experienced everything so intensely.

Col was truly the tenderest of vittles, so open hearted. I remember when Snooper went missing the night before her wedding (was it right before?), calling his name out and searching in ditches with flashlights. Col loved that little dog. She was so worried. (Thank god we found him or the wedding may have had to have been postponed and it was the most fun wedding ever). Or the night she accidentally hit a rabbit on a dark road on the way to the Point and it was like the end of the world - she felt so bad for that damn rabbit. It took a while to convince her we shouldn’t go back for it.

When Col was excited or happy you knew it. She had lots of different laughs, including an outburst laugh (HA!), a giggly-conspiratorial-should-we-really-be-laughing-about-this-laugh (with a demure tuck of her chin). Even her voice -- so many modulations, really high or low or whispers or shouts (usually with a smack on your arm and a NO!) and all in the space of a 1 minute conversation. Or if you told her something really outrageous she would hit you and say no and walk away and walk back, “Are you Serious!” Col’s handwriting was epic. She was left handed but even for a lefty it was completely bonkers. Like it matched the cascade of her thoughts or something. It was all bubbly and catty-wompus.

Col was drop dead gorgeous but never believed it. The woman who did her hair on her wedding day said something like, “Colleen we could shave you bald and you would still look beautiful.” She looked like a princess bride and danced like a fiend that night. I remember lessons at Jack Greenen’s dance studio in high school but Col’s moves were all her. Unteachable. Unmatchable. They defied all dance-move naming conventions.

I wish we were dancing. Or getting ready to go dancing (with Emma again to SXSW!). Or that we were little kids playing Barbies in Col’s front yard under the big pine trees. Or laughing in the Nativity girls’ bathroom. Or ice-skating on Freemans Pond or at the Y. Col could do a sort of an axel jump, I think she taught herself? It was like a piston firing - an energy burst. Like when she kicked ass at whatever sport she happened to be playing on any given day. She would crush it. Or I wish we were on the dock while she lifeguarded, talking about whatever. Lying on some old beat-up towels. A warped paperback copy of one of her Tolkien books by her side. She would probably waitressing later that day at the Sword. One of us was probably heartbroken or in love.

I try and imagine Col now with the dogs -- all of them including Snooper, and the birds (Merlin on one shoulder and Mr. T on the other), and the cat, and probably that damn bunny. And she’s started a vet clinic in animal heaven and is getting ready to go dancing with everyone she loves that’s up there with her. I love you Col and miss you. I love you, too, McMahons and Dan, Jack and Emma. Thank you for sharing Colleen with all of us and surrounding her with love and care, her whole life.
Posted by Tim McMahon on August 28, 2019
Note from the chief development officer of Wayside House...(Brooke, thanks for recommending them)

Hi Daniel,

What a beautiful tribute to your wife; I feel as if I know her through all the remembrances and photos shared. She was obviously very special and these gifts in her memory will help so much. There is such a strong history here at Wayside House and we are happy that Colleen and her family & friends will now be a part of that.

I will send thank you notes to all of the people who donate and will send you a list of names and addresses so you can know that as well. We are also grateful for the donations of some of her personal items and look forward to meeting you.
Posted by Tim McMahon on August 27, 2019
From Heather Richardson...."Hi Tim - I wish I could say something to make you feel better, but I know I can't.  I am so so sad about Colleen. All I can think of is when we were in a tent on the canoe trip ('89) planning how our life would go. I can see her beautiful eyes and big smile anytime I think of her. Colleen had a charm that made you feel like you were the only one in the room. I also know she was such a rock and best friend to my sister. Sending you and your family all my love.  She was an amazing person, and I know how hard she battled. ððð Heather (Austin) Richardson "
Posted by Mary Anne Behring Kennedy on August 27, 2019
To the mcmahon family, the few times we were in Colleen's company, our memory will be of her sweet smile. Maryanne and Patrick kennedy
Posted by Victoria Wienke on August 27, 2019
Colleen was a free spirit who enjoyed life and people. She had a smile that could melt the sternest heart and a bubbly personality that made people instantly feel attracted to her.  She grew up playing with our girls and although we didn’t see much of her when she married and moved to Florida, she always had a big hug for us when we did see her. 
God must have needed another angel and decided Colleen was the one He needed. She is now welcoming others with her big smile and making them feel at home. Colleen, you will be missed but live on in our hearts. Our love to the entire McMahon/Coate family. Harris & Vicky Wienke
Posted by Tim McMahon on August 27, 2019
From Steve Higgins........
What a beautiful woman. I'm just absolutely heartbroken. She was a gift from God to us all. An amazing, caring and energetic person.
I love you so much
Higgs
Posted by Otis Boersma on August 27, 2019
I am so sorry to hear this news. When I think of Colleen, I always think of her big smile and infectious laugh. Uncle T, Aunt Diane, Kev, Tim, Erin - my heartfelt condolences during this very trying time.
Posted by Tim McMahon on August 27, 2019
We spent an incredible hour with Colleen yesterday in Florida. She looked so beautiful and at peace. We wet the floor around her with tears of sorrow. We spoke of her preciousness, her fighting spirit and strength, and her absolute beauty both inside and out. She was a special presence and will continue to be. We are all better for having been touched by her.
Posted by Linda Owen on August 26, 2019
Colleen sat in the first row, first seat in my AP English class. That was right where she belonged! I loved her because she was a brilliant student, and I loved her because she was such an interesting, warm, and wonderful young woman. We got to know each other, and I will never forget her:

My husband died young, at 48. T, her father, helped me through that time. Thank you! Not sure how I can help you now. 
Let me know. I owe you!!!

Love, Linda
Posted by Patrick Long on August 26, 2019
Aunt Dianne, Uncle T, Kevin, Tim & Erin,

I am really sorry to hear about Colleen. My mom always kept us up to speed on all the McMahon's and I will keep you, Dan and the kids in my thoughts and prayers. I'll remember Colleen fondly. With love, Patrick Long
Posted by Dan Martich on August 26, 2019
Dan, my longtime friend, I never had the pleasure of meeting your wonderful Colleen. However, the remembrance of dinner with you and Emma in Pittsburgh when Emma was just starting her college career at the University of Pittsburgh keeps flooding back. Through your beautiful, articulate, intelligent and thoughtful daughter, I could see the amazing combination of you and your wife. As we Orthodox Christians say, may the memory of Colleen be eternal.
Posted by Alice Sharp on August 26, 2019
Our hearts ache. Met many people in our lives, but no one more warm and gracious than Colleen, who was always willing to extend a helping hand. The world is worse off without her big and uplifting smile which is how we will remember her. The Sharp Family
Posted by Christopher McMahon on August 26, 2019
To all of the Coates and all the "Buffalo McMahons": Debra and I have no words that can comfort you, just our love and gratitude for Colleen and her life. I cannot imagine your grief right now. But as I read Tim's stories I almost envy the joy of your memories with her. Prayers for all of you and for your "badass" wife, mother, daughter, sister, Colleen. 
Posted by Monica Klaver on August 26, 2019
Colleen was part of our team and family at Stevens Animal Hospital and she touched each one of us deeply, leaving her legacy and love with us forever. We will miss her deeply. Dan, our hearts go out to you and your family in this time of loss. Please let us know if you need anything now and in the future. 
Posted by Ashley Pederson on August 26, 2019
Dan, my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to you and your family during this sad time. I am happy to have gotten the chance to meet Colleen, and will remember her kind and upbeat spirit. I know how much she meant to you and I wish you lots of love and support during your time of healing.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Terence McMahon on August 22, 2020
[With tears streaming as I listen to NEBRASKA our first shared song!]
My dear Colleen,
I heard your voice in the wind today
and I turned to see your face
The warmth of the wind caressed me
As I stood silently in place

I felt your touch in the sun today
as its warmth filled the sky
I closed my eyes for your embrace
and my spirit soared high

I saw your eyes in the window pane
as I watched the falling rain
It seemed as each raindrop fell
It quietly said your name

I held you close in my heart today
It made me feel complete
You may have died... but you are not gone
You will always be a part of me

As long as the sun shines
the wind blows...
the rain falls...
You will live inside of me forever
for that is all my heart knows
Love Dad


Posted by Tim McMahon on August 21, 2020
-Friday, 8/21/20, a moment

Look at what the light did now…

It’s the anniversary of losing my beautiful sister. A warm and still southern sunset awaits as sitting on the back porch this evening, gathering strength through a soulful “Yacht Rock” playlist (yeah, am not kidding), and awash in feeling Colleen takes me to a mix of emotional places. Dwelling about it, telling myself trying to make sense is probably pointless. Can’t shake that, so… what else? Everything else? No, but many things ‘else about her rushing around. Moments. We want so many more that we’ll never have. 

The Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love? plays over the top of the staccato din of cicadas, cardinals, wrens, and mockingbirds. To get indulgent about answering that song’s question to her: ‘Hey Col, I hope you know it’s so deep that I can’t stand it. If we could give it (our love) all to you in any and every moment of stress and conflict you coped with so bravely, would it have healed you?’ 

With or without us, she was strong and singular, handling as deftly as can be imagined her own challenges, all the while keeping unconditional that eternally maternal instinct to love people.

I think Col would find this moment hearing beautiful harmonies (ex. Kenny Loggins Heart to Heart), memorable bass lines (ex. Commodores' Easy Like Sunday Morning), ethereal pitch and inflection (Stephen Stills’ Singing Call), and lyrical saxophone intros to a simple and important message (ex. England Dan and John Ford Coley’s Love is the Answer), all the while watching the kittens climb straight up the porch screen bemusedly chasing birds they won’t reach (and puzzled on how to get down)….

I know she would find this an at-home porch concert and spectacle worthy of the reminder to stay grounded and cherish life’s simplicity.  She was all about a day’s end absorbing music, pet activity, and mellowing into an evening.  An example like this of life’s simplicity and accepting what it gives you, embracing it for just what it is wasn’t always there for her mind but I know firsthand that she cherished moments like this.  She needed moments like this to get ready for the battle tormenting her mind.

We dearly missed her at Chautauqua a few weeks back - as it was the last time and place we were all together a little over a year ago.  But we felt her presence then, as I do now.

Teary-eyed, I’m in a connected place with her. This happens enough, as I know it does for my parents and siblings, but this one is a bit more pronounced. I want to capitalize and get it to recur, to bring on her essence, her vibe, with all its laughter, sarcasm, and complexity, whenever I can. Capture it, bottle it, and open it when needed and bring out the love which wrapped her own essence like her powerful hugs.

I don’t have a different message, just expressing from a big heart that misses her. Hope that’s ok and that you put a little of your ‘Colleen’ on and share her spirit of unconditional love with another person, plus an animal :) 

And don’t be afraid to get yourself some Bee Gees from time to time or be bashful about showing others how deep your love is.

Tim
Posted by Terence McMahon on August 21, 2020
It’s a year of memories, so many happy ones as I look at the photo gallery again and again. But in truth I am very sad. Colleen is a part of who I am. may sound selfish. When an illness strikes, attack it, do all you can to cure it. Was there more that could have helped Col to be with us longer, to see and feel the beauty that is life on earth? 
With faith that she is experiencing peace and love in another place in God’s care I(we) can continue to have hope that we will be there together one day .
From your birth on Thanksgiving day til you left us with so many memories, thank you Col for being our daughter.Mom


her Life

T's Eulogy from the 10/12 Funeral Mass

A Message from Colleen,
Thank you to all who have traveled far to comfort my family and friends. For being in this special place with my family who loved me for 50 years! You are carrying on MY tradition of trying to make people happy.

God wanted my parents and siblings to know that I was special so I was sent down by God to earth on Thanksgiving Day , November 28, 1968 and this year Thanksgiving Day is also on November 28 and I hope you will remember me on that day.

I’m sorry that I didn’t get to say goodbye when God called me home .

Dan you were the love of my life. Jack and Emma you were always my pride and joy and I hope you felt it. Erin, Tim , Kevin , Mom and Dad thank you for loving me unconditionally for my 50 years. Thank you Kevin for being the best brother and doctor who always answered my calls and worked hard to keep me healthy.Thank you Tim for being the best brother who guided me to St Lawrence and who gave me my last kiss. Thank you Erin for being a great younger sister. Our last lunch together in Ft Lauderdale meant the world to me. Thank you Mom for always coming to Ft Lauderdale when I needed you! Dry your tears and remember God’s plan was that we were TOGETHER at the lake for our last fourth of July this year.

My suffering has ended. The angels have led me into paradise. The God I learned about in this very church has been merciful and has forgiven my sins. I am at peace with the Lord. I’m dancing with the angels. I’m with Grandpa & Grandma McMahon, with Poppy and Nana. My great uncles Mike, Joe, Tommy, and Andy and great aunts Nel, Jean, Dotty, Rita and Betty are here. Ruth Coate, Amy Fazi and Leo Noe are together with us. And of course I think I see Snooper from time to time. Trust in God. I’m here waiting for you all. When you think of me, follow my example and try to make people happy.Remember that God is holding me in the palm of His hand until we are together again.

Jack's Eulogy of his Mom 9/7/19

To Live is to Fly: a remembrance of my mother, Colleen Coate

I wish that this were not happening, It feels wrong and it feels unfair to be here, speaking at my mother’s memorial service, before her 51st birthday. Her story deserved more chapters, and she deserved a different ending.

Mom dealt with numerous challenges in her life. Many of which I have only come to understand these past several years: depression, mental illness, addiction, codependency, physical challenges, and trauma to name a few. Immensely burdensome and taxing weights to bear. Colleen grappled these weights until the end with the stalwart perseverance of a migratory bird. After all, mom flew as she lived. Her feathers repeatedly broken and tattered. Her spirit dampened by the scale of the journey. Her body worn by the plight of an endless migration. Time after time, my beautiful and resilient mother pushed back the physical, mental, and emotional demons that sought to ground her. Colleen persevered by leaning on her flock, this beautiful flock of individuals here today, and she did so by never giving up. Even in her darkest hour I always knew that Collen Coate was fighting back.

This past year has been a triumph in so many ways. A highlight of my summer came was attending mom’s one year of sobriety meeting with her home group, the “Chica Girls”, and with my Dad. On that early June morning, in a municipal-esque yet quaint room, I listened to perhaps the most thoughtful and intensely vulnerable reflection of a human life that I have ever herd. That reflection was delivered by my mother, Colleen. With remarkable poise she recalled her life, from childhood through the present, leaving no stone unturned, and instigating teary eyes in more than a few audience members. Colleen bore herself on that day, displaying a profound level of introspective awareness and maturity. After mom finished speaking, an outpouring of love, empathy, and respect echoed through the crowd of roughly sixty. Several people saying that for instance, ‘they hadn’t wanted to drag themselves out of bed for that morning’s meeting, but that they were so glad that they did. Colleen’s speech made it all worthwhile.’ Who knows how many lives were changed, even saved, on that day. That memory, one of countless made with mom, will forever live on in me and in all who were there.

I am infinitely proud to be Colleen Coate’s son. I can’t fathom the person I would be today without Colleen as my mother. I do know, that I wouldn’t be the same, not even close, without the endless love and selfless devotion she showed Emma and me as children: without living, laughing, growing, traveling, and crying together. Directly or indirectly, Colleen Coate lives on in each and everyone here today. My mom is, was, and will always be an inextinguishable light to me and to all those she wrapped her wings around. An amazingly selfless, loving, and compassionate mother who put her family and those around her first. An inspiring woman, through whom I find courage, empathy, and inspiration.

I remember an email that my mom shared with the family after the passing of my great grandfather, Poppy, a few years ago. In the message, she attributed the following words to Poppy and the way he lived.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak Kindly.

I will always remember my mom by these mantras as I do Poppy. She held them close as close as she held Poppy’s picture on the desk in her room. Although her life was anything but simple, Colleen wished simplicity for those around her. She radiated love, generosity and kindness. Let us all hold each other close, support each other, learn from each other, respect each other, and not back down from our fights as Colleen did not back down from hers.

I love you Mom.
I will always love you,
your loving son, Jack.

Emma's Eulogy of her Mom 9/7/19

Thank you all for coming out to celebrate my mom. It’s been a gift to hear your stories, to share in your memories. You ask anyone in this room to describe Colleen and first and foremost will be her laugh, her smile, how she gave so much of herself to everyone she met.

One of my favorite memories of my mom is that of her reading the Lord of the Rings to Jack and myself, sharing with us this work of literature she loved so much. Her passing got me thinking of a quote from it: the hobbit Frodo Baggins says to the wizard Gandalf “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf the wizard replies, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Looking out at all of you out today, I am reminded of what my mom did with the time she was given. She lived a life full of joy and warmth and love.

These last years, she lived less of that joy than she deserved. But, before all things she was a fighter. Through all of it, physical illness and her struggle for mental health, she fought. She struggled. We all did. But I take solace that over the past year, that struggle was paying off and she was winning, more and more. Jack and my dad had the honor of attending a ceremony to mark her 12th month sober this past June, and I remember speaking with her after the fact. I remember the fierceness of the pride I felt for her in that moment, and how grateful I was to share in her victory. That was the best gift she could have given me.

But I’ve been mourning the past often, these few weeks. Worrying about the future. Thinking about all the experiences I wanted to share with my mom. Regretting the opportunities I’d missed.But all we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.

And with the time given to me, I choose to do my level best to live a life my mom wanted for me, filled with joy and boldness and dogged perseverance. In this way, I will take my mom with me for the rest of my life.
I guess that’s my takeaway for all of you here today: get out there. Honor Colleen’s memory by finding the joy in your life that she would have wanted for you.

Thank you all.
Recent stories

One Year

Shared by Jessica Loeb on August 21, 2020
Today is the one year anniversary of Colleen’s death. Jack and I still talk about her, think about her, and talk with her every day. Death ends a person’s life on Earth, but not your relationship with that person. Our relationship with Colleen continues to develop and gain new richness, significance, spirituality, and the many different qualities of the transformative power of love. We continue to learn the important lessons and truths that Colleen’s life had to teach us, and that the next generations will need to know through passing along her memory.

Summer

Shared by Kristine Miller on August 1, 2020
Dear Coates and McMahons. Been thinking about Colleen lots these days. Summer was her season. Queen Anne's Lace and daisies, raspberries, lake water, cut grass, reading on the dock, kicking off a waterski. I wish we had her for longer. Sending lots and lots of love to you and to her. She feels nearby. Maybe she is orbiting closer to us right now?

Thinking about Col and sending love

Shared by Kristine Miller on December 5, 2019
I'm not sure if it's because it was just her birthday - or because it's the holiday season but I've been thinking about Col a lot these days. I've also been having dreams about her or dreams where she just shows up (: This isn't so much a story but a message to all of you who love Col, especially the McMahons and Coates, that that I love you and am thinking about you. It still doesn't feel real. Sincerely, Kristine