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.

From Colleen's parents Dianne & T

We welcomed our precious baby girl, Colleen Therese, on Thanksgiving Morning, 1968, the same birthday as her uncle Peter, a girl after 2 boys. Our hearts bursting with joy! By the time T parked the car at Sisters Hospital, she had arrived. Sister, Erin arrived 2 years later. Our family complete, we thought, until Colleen began bargaining for a pet. We tried gerbils, not so great. Then, we purchased Mr. “T”, a green parakeet. At age 5, Col was the only family member willing to clean and care for him, I would pay her $1 for catching him when he escaped.

But, Col really wanted a dog. So Snooper joined our family and was with us until she and Dan returned from their honeymoon.

Col loved learning but sports were big, too. She more than kept up with her big brothers Kevin & Tim and set an example for little sister, Erin. She played on a St. Barnabas softball team wit her aunt Melissa, a teenager, as her coach. Col was loved and cherished by the many Prorok’s (Mom’s family) and The McMahon’s (Dad’s family).

We were blessed with idyllic summers, spent at Pt. Chautauqua on Chautauqua Lake, Col’s entire summer life before marriage was spent there. She and Dan met while working at Chautauqua Institution, she as a waterfront counselor and Dan as sailing counselor along with her brother Tim. Kevin and Erin also worked there, all four McMahon’ at one time! Their wedding was at St. Mary’s in Mayville and reception at The Chautauqua Golf Course Club House in August of 1990.

Colleen attended St. Lawrence University, studying a J term in NYC on The Kirk Douglas theater scholarship, a memorable semester in Kenya, Africa and a semester at American University in DC, studying Conflict Resolution.

The young couple started their life together in Pittsburgh where Jackson & Emma were born, there, many good times were had with Dan’s family, the Coates. The McMahon’s were frequent travelers from Orchard Park to Pittsburgh and vice versa.

The family had many travel opportunities, living a year in Bangalore, India, among them.

Upon return in 2005, they moved to Pompano Beach.

T and I have been able to spend our winters in Ft. Lauderdale and therefore be with Colleen and her family, often.

Her continued effort to go forward and conquer, her warmth and spirit gave so much to so many.We cannot express how much we miss her, our precious girl.

Dianne & T