Mary Ann Rahe (1928-2020)
Tiggy couldn’t carry a tune, but she had lyricism in her heart. A lover of poetry, she often recited verses to her six children and seven grandchildren. “How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue?” she would intone whenever she pushed us in a swing. With her Irish heritage, she seemed to come by this affinity naturally, and it endured. She recited The Children’s Hour just a few weeks before her peaceful passing June 8.
She didn’t love cooking, but she fed us lovingly, especially on birthdays and holidays when she prepared recipes made her own by adding catchy names – Bayou Fish Chowder, Florida Zucchini Bake, and Mary’s Merry Christmas Cheesecake. We always served ourselves and gathered around the oversized dining-room table, talking and reminiscing well past dessert.
Tiggy – that’s the childhood nickname that became her grandmother name – always had room for dessert.
There was tragedy in her life. A car accident stole her teenage son and her father in 1971, and illness took her beloved husband of 62 years (our beloved father) in 2014, but she always remembered how to laugh, sometimes uncontrollably.
She loved telling the story about how, during her honeymoon fishing at an Iowa lake, an older woman had told the young couple that a twister had “demoralized” a local creamery. Unable to stifle her laughter at the malaprop, she had to excuse herself, leaving Dad to finish the conversation. She had been an English major, after all.
She had her hands full raising six children, but she found ways to make each of us feel special – “hugging time” and books with a preschooler while the baby was napping, special birthday lunches with the honoree (no brothers or sisters!), driving throughout Florida to gymnastics meets. She did it all over again with grandchildren, attending performances, babysitting, even taking a 10-year-old out for a Hot Fudge Sundae Hamburger. She always gave children and grandchildren lots of space to play and explore, and she always listened.
Tiggy was a woman of great intelligence and wisdom, but she only gave her opinion if you asked for it. She was slow to anger and quick to forgive. Some of us remember a singular “hells bells” when we as kids had pushed her too far. When her 5-year-old repeatedly “fell” into a shallow koi pond with all her clothes on, she never got mad, not once. People were always more important to her than things – including wet clothes.
She was a woman of faith – certainly working through some desert times – but she never pushed her beliefs on anyone. She was a lector at St. Mary Catholic Church for many years, and she quietly put her certainty about the sanctity of life into action by working at Life Inc. in her younger days.
Her main job was always her family – recently the brood grew to include three great-grandbabies – but she also worked in the family business managing condo associations.
We will miss you, Tiggy – miss you sitting at the head of the dinner table, miss hearing you recite poems and tell family stories, miss watching old movies and M*A*S*H reruns with you – but we are thankful for the life you gave us and the love you taught us.
We are grateful, as well, for the many caregivers who helped you in the past few years and especially for your children Matthew and Serra who made loving and caring for you – and taking you for cookies-and-cream shakes – their mission.
Tiggy, you always had room for dessert – and a toast. So, we send you off with your signature Irish blessing:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
And the rains fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again,
may the good Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. July 25 at Saint Mary Catholic Church in Fort Walton Beach, with a rosary at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Saint Mary Catholic School in Fort Walton Beach or to a favorite charity.
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