He wasn’t there, he just was not there! And neither was she. Spring had sprung and I had returned to the mountain known as St. Patrick’s Cemetery. Some kind soul had cataloged the tombstones in the cemetery and posted the list online, and John Crotty was on the list. Only he wasn’t there. His wife was not on the list, but she should have been, where else would she be? I had been up and down the cliff twice now, searched high and low, (excuse the pun) and nothing. My family had a time honored tradition of leaving their loved ones final resting places unmarked; their thoughts seemed to be, we know where we planted them, why waste good money on tom foolery like a tombstone. Far into the 1900’s few stones were placed. But John must have had one, he was on the list.
John Crotty was the brother of my g.g.g. grandmother Honora Crotty. She and John were born in the early 1800’s to Patrick and Ellen Crotty in County Waterford, Ireland. John came to the US around 1857; Honora, the widow of Edmund Power didn’t arrive until almost 1880. Both lived in Farmington, NY, John with his wife Ellen and their daughter Mary while Honora resided with her daughter and son in law Ellen and Thomas Mahoney. (That’s three different individuals named Ellen; I used to dislike my name, which is also Ellen, until I discovered how much the Irish appeared to like it.)
Walking back towards my car I noticed an overgrown area two thirds of the way up and figured I may as well check it out, and there he was. Under branches and vines, surrounded by weeds I found Uncle John. I set about clearing the debris then pulled the weeds, and there on the side of his tombstone I discovered an inscription for Aunt Ellen Crotty, nee Mullett. When the cemetery was being cataloged no one had looked at the side of the monument, not that I could blame them, it wasn’t easy to get to even by St. Patrick’s standards. I wound up setting some flat stones into the hill by their plot as steps to make the climb easier.
After my exertions I descended, (tripped) to a lower point and as I stood under a large pine tree looking back at their graves, musing on John and Ellen’s lives I heard a tinkling sound. Looking up I saw someone had placed a small wind chime high in the tree. How nice I thought, and then I looked higher … there sat the biggest bird I had ever seen in my life! This raptor creature was as big as my entire upper body, and it was silently staring at me. I am not a superstitions woman, but being Irish I have enough sense not to fool around with known harbingers of death! Yet again I beat a hasty retreat from St. Patrick’s. Maybe next time I’ll bring a body guard.