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My mother, Kathleen Ann, is a wonderful person. All her life, she has put others before her, and people admire her very generous heart. Strangers come up to her and say hello when they see her smile and the gentleness behind it. This is just a piece in the puzzle of her life. She has a wonderful story to tell and I have only captured a bit of it.
Q: What is your full maiden name?
A: Kathleen Ann Maher.
Q: When were you born?
A: July 7th, 1968.
Q: Where did you live growing up?
A: When I was first born I lived on the Southside in Evergreen Park in Illinois. And then when I was probably about 5, we moved to River Grove which is just west of the city.
Q: What are your parents’ names?
A: Margaret Maher and Jack Maher.
Q: What did they do for a living?
A: My mom was a high school teacher. She taught college at night first, but then she became a high school teacher. My dad was a purchasing manager for Motorola for 35 years.
Q: What are your siblings’ names?
A: John Francis is my brother and Maureen Bridget is my sister.
Q: How old are your siblings compared to you?
A: My brother is 3 years younger and my sister is 8 years younger.
Q: Tell me about your relationship with your parents and your siblings.
A: I think it was pretty normal. My parents were a little strict but not too bad. I had a normal brother- sister relationship. We fought, but we were also good friends especially because of our closeness in age. My brother and I hung out with each other’s friends. Also, when school dances came around, sometimes he would go with one of my friends. My sister and I, because of the age difference, were not as close. I was more like her second mother or babysitter instead of sibling. And she loved telling on both my brother and I when we were growing up.
Q: Did you have to take care of your siblings being the oldest?
A: Of course. I did a lot of babysitting especially since my parents worked very late.
Q: Did they always listen to you or did they misbehave?
A: Maureen usually listened, although she would tell on me to my parents if she didn’t like what I was telling her to do. My brother was usually pretty good.
Q: Did you ever think that it was unfair that you had to watch them?
A: No. I never thought twice about it. It was just the way it was. Most people would want to be paid for taking care of their siblings, but I never even thought about it. I had to get them from school when I was able to drive and make them dinner since my parents didn’t get home until late at night.
Q: Where did you go to school for all of your years?
A: For Kindergarten I went to the public grammar school. It was called Rhodes. It is in River Grove. Starting first grade through eighth grade I went to St. Cyprian School in River Grove. And then for high school I went to Mother Guerin in River Grove. And then for college I went to Loyola in Chicago down at the lakeshore campus.
Q: What was school like then? How was it different than it is now?
A: I would say the main difference was grammar school because there were nuns that taught us, and the priests were in the school all the time. Also, in grammar school when the school secretary was sick, no one was called in to take his or her place, instead they would pull an eighth grader out of class to work in the office for the day. And students were often taken from class to stuff envelopes in the rectory. They didn’t make as much of a deal then as they do now about students missing classes. You just met with your teacher to figure out what you missed. High school, it was an all-girls school, so compared to some people it was different, but there are all-girls school now that are very similar like Resurrection. We still got a lot of homework like students do now. However, I, along with many other people my age, was balancing homework and a job. Most teenagers now don’t have jobs until a later age but a lot of people I knew growing up got a job as soon as they could.
Q: Were your teachers very strict?
A: Probably more in grammar school than any other school because they were nuns yes and when they said something, you listened right away and you didn’t argue.
Q: When did you get your first job? What was it?
A: When I was fifteen, I got a work permit. I started the day after my birthday working at a store called Marzullo’s. It was a drugstore and neighborhood store that sold a little bit of groceries, a little bit of everything, but that you could get prescriptions filled.
Q: Did the money you earned go to helping out your family or was it just for you?
A: I put most of the money in a savings account, leaving just a little for me to use at the time. The savings account was for me for college. When I went to college, my parents only paid for the first year, so I had to earn money for the rest of my years in college.
Q: Are you still really close to any of your childhood friends?
A: I see them once in a while. But real close, not so much. I do still get together with some of them sometimes. So we keep in touch. I think it is hard to stay real close because everyone moves to different places and has families and you don’t see each other as often as you used to.
Kathleen Ann is now living in Park Ridge, IL. She has a great husband and three kids who love her very much. She helps out at at the school her son goes to, and she is very much a part of her children’s’ lives. She is still very close to her parents and siblings, and she loves spending time with her family. Her story is one worth knowing.