Our deepest sympathies to Teresa's family and wide circle of friends.
Br. Liam has shared some lovely stories, and memories below.
A privilege it has been to walk this planet some time in the company of Tess, Teresa Flynn. Dooley she was known as in her nursing midwifery days. And what stories she had to tell of her time cycling around the streets of London to deliver babies! Like the time there was a major fund-raising cycle organised from John O’Groats to Land’s End and all of London lined the streets to welcome and see the large group of cyclist pass. Then from off a side street came the redoubtable Teresa on her maternity bike and she was cheered by the masses down the mall as she headed out to deliver a new life.
From her nursing days I remember the gentleman who reported to her one morning that the top of his femur ‘was not articulating in his acetabulum’ following a hip operation.
Later, from America her stories were equally as good, working as midwife there, also in times when black ladies were not always welcome in the maternity hospitals. One night she took a beautiful little black woman in who was in the later stages of labour and gave her the best ward. Teresa delivered the baby. Next morning when she came in to work the black lady and her baby were gone. ‘Many of my best friends never spoke to me again’ is how Teresa remembers it.
In the delivery room where abortions were carried out, the doctor would hand the foetus in a kidney dish to Teresa saying. ‘Here Dooley, You’re a Catholic, you deal with it’. And she would pray over it, baptise the little darling and if I remember correctly even give it a name.
I got to know Teresa through Burren Chernobyl Project. Brian Mooney who was one of the founders, had invited a group of deaf children from Kobrin for a visit to a Spanish Point hostel. He phoned Tess to ask her to prepare for them.
‘I had twenty pounds’ she says and sure that got them started for the first feed. She had phoned Bosco (the nun in Tulla) who said she had another twenty so day two was covered. I visited then and said I had a turkey in the freezer left over from the Ennistymon Christmas bingo … and that got the group fed through day three. And that is how it began and continued, relying on providence to provide, with Teresa never in doubt but that it would all work out.
Teresa’s time with Sergei in Freagh Castle was very special. One great story she tells is when her cousin Pat the darling, an alcoholic, came to stay a day or two. He helped look after Sergei and on one occasion said:
‘Teresa I’d go hungry for that child!’
To which Teresa replied:
‘Faith than Pat, he’d do a lot better if you went thirsty!’
Her trip back to Belarus to visit Sergei’s mother in Gomel jail was very memorable. It was covered by an RTE Film Crew and is well worth a look. She was tough, determined and relentless in looking after Sergei and all those who were not considered important.
Later when Sergei and the other children were recalled to Belarus, Teresa upped sticks and travelled out also. She had planned a trip to Africa to see Tim but, undaunted, carried on from the heat there into the cold of a Belarus winter…. leaving her house unlocked of course behind her in case someone might need it while she was away.
Teresa’s time in Cherven orphanage was difficult; it was three years of constant care of Sergei. In the early days she used climb in the back window of the orphanage every morning in order to shorten the distance to walk. There was a kind word for everyone, but also a firm hint to straighten yourself where someone needed telling. She considered it an honour to be allowed in Belarus, to be allowed look after Sergei and was ever thankful for the strength given her by gentle Jesus to do what she could for as long as she could. Looking at the ostentation of Churches and their leaders she’d say,
‘ It’s a long way from the stable’.
For me and for us, we have lost a great inspiration. A great woman about whom we all have great stories, great moments to recall and always a sense of being valued and cared for by her. I think we all felt this.
For Teresa’s family, they are saying goodbye to mother, grandmother and great grandmother. It is many years now since Teresa had a list of all her wonderful grandchildren on a noticeboard in Freagh so she would remember all their birthdays. To them all, our sympathies and thanks for the share of this great lady in our lives.
It is quite a few years now since Teresa was no longer the full Teresa as we knew her and wanted her to remain. But she was happy. Less than two weeks ago, on a visit to her, she said, ‘Every day is wonderful!’
For us today, Teresa, this day is not so wonderful, We will miss you as you set sail out into the world of heaven where light is asleep and dreaming.
In Minsk, the other evening it seemed Teresa was about the place and said:
‘The last place on earth I would like to be is at my own funeral.’
Followed by a big laugh from Tess.
Teresa is gone to her God, gone to her Jesus. She had no doubt but that Sergei would be the first running out to meet her, with her late husband Ben, the pet, following on.
To finish with a quote from Joyce Greenfell:
‘Weep if you must. Parting is hell.
But life goes on. So .... sing as well.’