Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In Memoriam: Virginia R. Sheehan, Carol Ann Donovan and Michael Raffer

I lost my sister, brother and mother on August 24, 2007 in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Nothing can prepare any person or family for that much tragedy.

Virginia R. Sheehan, August 21, 1921 -- August 24, 2007

My sister called me on August 20th to tell me that our mom, after many years of struggling valiantly with Parkinson's disease, was dying. Within a day family members arrived from all over the country. My brother flew in from northern California and my husband and I from New York State. Grandchildren flew or drove there to join us. Mom couldn't talk but seemed to regain consciousness and smile each time a new loved one arrived. When everyone was together, she drifted into unconsciousness and on Friday morning passed away peacefully.

This is my mom in 2006 dressed and ready to attend the 85th birthday party held in her honor. She was always beautiful at every age.

August 24th was a sad day for our family but we knew Mom had struggled so long and so hard with her painful disease that her death was a blessing. That evening we headed off in three cars to go out to a nearby restaurant for dinner and celebrate my mom's life. My sister and brother lagged behind us a bit in leaving and they never made it to the restaurant. Their car collided with a passenger train traveling at 80 mph while they were crossing the tracks and they were both killed instantly.

Carol Ann Donovan, November 16, 1943 - August 24, 2007
Stanley Michael Raffer, January 9, 1953 - August 24, 2007

Here is one of the last pictures of the three of us together. I am on the left, my big sister is in the middle and my little brother is on the right at my mom's 85th birthday party last summer.
I miss my family. I pray their spirits are finding peace and love and comfort and that they can feel the love we will all hold in our hearts for them always. I want to picture them now with all the other family members that have left here before them, particularly my dad and grandparents. I miss them all. I love you, Mom. I love you, Carol. I love you, Mike.


  1. Hi Jeanne,

    That was a beautiful memorial to your family. I've been watching your blog for a while now, wondering when you could arrive at this point, because I know it was painful to write those words, sometimes it brings a finality we don't want. I hope the sorting and paperwork is going ok and hope your art is sustaining you

  2. Jeanne, I found out about this terrible tragedy at Fabrications. I am so sorry for your loss. It is truly horrible.

    Was Donovan your sister's married name or is Donovan your maiden name? The reason I ask is I am a Donovan.....

    You were greatly missed at Fabrications. Sending you love and hugs......


  3. I love you Mom. I'm so grateful to have you here. I love you Aunt Carol, Uncle Mikey and Grandma. Miss you all. It's been two months today.


  4. Ahhh, Jeanne. I just found this post. Though we've written each other about this tragedy, your writing, and the photos made it tangible, and incredibly sad. Again, I offer my heartfelt sympathy at the loss of your family. May the caring of your friends offer you comfort, and may God bring you peace in your heart. Rosemary

  5. Hi Aunt Jeanne,

    I think of Mike every day. I miss him every day. Once in a while, I'll Google him, just to see if something new will come up. Today, I found your post.

    I want you to know that we spread his ashes in his favorite fishing spot. It was always something he wanted. Nina, a close friend of the family thinks that he's saving the best spot for us, somewhere out there, preparing things for the day that we join him, just like he'd always done during our many camping trips. I like to think that she's right. It would be just like Mike to take care of us that way.