John James McAuliffe, RIP

by Renee on November 7, 2011

My grandfather, John James McAuliffe, passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 5th at the age of 97 in his beloved city of San Antonio, holding the hand of his daughter Cathy. I arrived in Pasee’s life when he was well into his 80s, a surprise to him and the rest of the McAuliffe clan. Not quite a baby on the doorstep, but the full grown daughter of his eldest son, Jack. I found the McAuliffes through my birthmother, about 12 years ago, and the family could not have been more welcoming.

There are many men who might have scoffed at my claim, or held themselves aloof or apart from a stranger purporting to be a blood relative so late in the game. But Pasee was one of the very first to find joy in my discovery. And his kindness and love extended to my daughter, Alienna–his great-granddaughter, and the rest of my family as well.

I learned that Pasee enjoyed his pipe and his happy hour Manhattan, and I learned how to make one when he came for a visit to my home in Ohio. He loved to play the piano, and entertain his neighbors and friends, of which he had many. He adored his cats, and could still speak the many languages that served him as an interpreter and code breaker during World War II. Pasee had many correspondents, and wrote weekly letters and yes, even emails to all of us. He loved to laugh and spend time with his family.

We were lucky enough to celebrate Pasee’s 90th and 95th birthdays with him, and I was hoping to be there for his 100th as well. Pasee was 50 years older than me–we could have celebrated our susquecentennial year together.

Yes, he had a long life. Yes, I am thankful I found him in time to know him. But yes, I am heartbroken to see him go– what seems to me, so soon.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Crystal W. (@EatDrinkClev) November 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s always too soon to lose a loved one.
But I’m happy you did find him and could experience a grandfather that seems to have been quite an interesting and wonderful man.


Sheila Durrant November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

Oh Renée, I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn’t matter that he was 97, the hole left in your life is the same size. You will be happy for all the memories you created together, and your family will be happy that you documented so many of them.


Renee November 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

What a wonderfully touching post. I am so sorry for your loss, but so happy that you were able to make such a strong connection with your grandfather. It’s obvious that he made quite an impression in the short time you had together.

I’m curious about your usage of the word Pasee. I’m not familiar with its meaning and Google doesn’t seem to know, either! Is that the McAuliffe term for “grandfather,” or a nickname/term of endearment?


Renee November 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

When I met the McAuliffes, that was what the family called him–Pasee; and my grandmother Masee. Term of endearment.


Brenda November 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Beautiful expression of love and loss, Renee. Your many wonderful memories will certainly keep your grandfather’s spirit close.


Lisa Peet November 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

What a lovely tribute, Renée. I know you each made the other’s life richer.


nbm November 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

a moving tribute, Renee. He sounds like quite a man. All my sympathy for your loss.


Cathy December 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Just read this again. One of the last things Pasee and I talked about was how Jack was so pleased that you were so much into beer — Pasee was delighted that you had quit your job and opened your own business related to craft beers. And he was also delighted that Jack embraced Ali, too. He got a real kick out of the fact that Jack paid for her first flying lesson.

I miss him so much.


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