Flower Purple

Elizabeth S. McHale

March 2, 1959 ~ July 14, 2020 (age 61)

Tribute

Eulogy for Elizabeth McHale

Delivered by: Andrew Guarini

Date: 7/18/20

Our Lady of Victory — Floral Park, NY

 

Good morning.

 

For those of you who don’t know me my name is Andrew McHale Guarini, and I had the privilege of being Liz’s nephew by luck of the birth lottery, and her godson by a truly great choice from my loving parents. 

Today I have the distinct honor of celebrating her life with all of you. And what better place to do so than here. In Floral Park, a town she lived in and loved for her entire life, in a state that shaped her future through her time at Nassau Community College and SUNY Oneonta, in a church her family has attended for nearly seventy years.

When I cycled through my memories of my Aunt Liz, I found that all of them were tied together by two uncanny abilities: warm hugs that made you feel like the only person in the world, and an impressive dialect where she could somehow laugh and speak simultaneously. And I couldn’t help but think about how that infectious laughter informed her life and the immense love she always had to give. 

This laugh was a thread through a lifetime of events with friends and family for the Schrafels and McHales. Growing up as the only girl amongst three brothers, Liz was a natural in any crowd—always welcoming new family members and significant others with arms wide open. She even turned friends into family, considering her best friend Mary G ended up more like the sister she never had. 

Perhaps her brothers Robert, Richard, and Thomas didn’t find her yelling “miss it!” during their golf backswings funny, but her selfless love and care for her immediate family was beyond dispute. She adored her parents, Barbara and Al, and loved hosting the Schrafels at her home. She even set up individualized food serving stations at her annual Father’s Day celebration this year to keep loved ones safe during COVID. 

For the McHales, her mind-bending money mazes were a highlight of the annual Christmas party, and the hardest, but most fun, you ever had earning $25. And going in the opposite direction, the annual McHale Day at the Races at Belmont for Brian’s birthday was the most fun you ever had losing much more than $25. The money didn’t matter though, since we were all just happy to be together year after year. I will say that her delectable spinach cheese balls always helped too. 

As McHales have sadly left our lives, such as cousin Woody and my grandma Florence and grandpa Roger, these events have remained a testament to how our family stays together to remember those we’ve lost. And they will stay that way.

This carefree laughter was also ingrained in the classrooms full of children she loved. You see, to say my Aunt Liz didn’t have kids of her own would be a lie. She actually had hundreds, maybe even thousands of them. So for those of you struggling with your own kids in quarantine, imagine a classroom full of 25 hungry kids before lunchtime armed with vaguely sharp art supplies.

Across 30 years of work as an elementary school teacher at Hillside Grade School, Liz dedicated her life to shaping the minds and thus the hopes of our collective future. As I’m looking out at all the people in this room, I can see and feel the impact that Liz had on all of us. But outside these walls are so many more people who knew her simply and endearingly as Mrs. McHale.

Children, many of them adults now, encompassing a wide range of backgrounds, learning levels and interests had their lives enriched greatly by having Liz in it. Her love for her students was generational, as we know that she even taught some of the children of parents she had taught previously. We know her memory will live on in every single one of them. 

Her laughter was most certainly a part of her 33 years of marriage to my Uncle Brian—and I’m not talking about the begrudging snicker and eyeroll for Brian’s never-ending Rolodex of jokes. It’s a laughter that comes from the coordination needed to ride the two-seated wacky bike after a few beers. And it's a laughter that echoes understanding...because sometimes a man just needs to spend 4 hours in the garage scrubbing every square inch of his Corvette two or three times.

Speaking of cars and understanding, I recall a story involving Brian's Impala convertible and the bottle of Guinness he was given by his neighbor when he bought it. A few years ago Brian advised Liz to flavor the corned beef she was cooking with some of the Guinness from the fridge. She just happened to grab the bottle that was over 40 years old.

Brian, an avid collector of vintage items, trinkets and everything in between, was not upset at the mishap. His main takeaway from this? "That was some really corned beef."

Their love was so plainly, abundantly pure and true that in recent years when my Facebook feed was full of them visiting seemingly every beach on the eastern seaboard on their retirement tour, my feelings seeing the photos from my desk at work weren't jealousy. They were happiness, because I knew that nobody deserved it more.  

And yet, there should be so many more of those trips to come. At 61 years young, we hurt because we feel that Liz should have so much more time with all of us. 

But I take solace that in certain moments if you listen closely enough, you may hear something significant.

It will be nestled gently in the spaces between the places she loved: the trumpet at Belmont Park Racetrack, the goal horn at an Islanders game, the toast at McHale Christmas, or the cool breeze on a beautiful beach day: it’s the sound of a Budweiser can cracking open and the heartwarming cackle of laughter. And we’ll all know that it’s the sound of Liz. It’s the sound of a life that was very much fully lived.

To send flowers to Elizabeth's family, please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Thursday
July 16, 2020

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home FP
29 Atlantic Avenue
Floral Park, NY 11001

Visitation
Friday
July 17, 2020

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home FP
29 Atlantic Avenue
Floral Park, NY 11001

Funeral Mass
Saturday
July 18, 2020

9:15 AM
Our Lady Of Victory R. C. Church
2 Floral Parkway
Floral Park, NY 11001

Private Cremation

All Souls Crematory
7202 Astoria Blvd
East Elmhurust, NY 11370

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