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The Guardian Brain Foundation Memories and Tributes to Those We Care for

Catherine T. Shea

04.25.1946 ~ 12.03.2004

Dear Mom,

It's been one month now since your death and I miss you terribly.  There is an enormous sense of emptiness and sorrow which exists within my heart and the hearts of our friends and family.  I can only hope the feelings we all have will soon subside and be replaced with the wonderful memories we have of you.  There were so many wonderful traits and qualities which you consistently exhibited throughout your life which is why it will be so hard to say goodbye.

Your outrageous zest for life and quest for knowledge was something that would be an inspiration to us all.  You used to say "I'm a 'road' scholar.  I got my education on the road."  And you certainly did.  Having joined the airlines at 24 years of age, you saw more in your career and your lifetime than most of us could dream.  You certainly marched to the beat of your own drum and you always seemed to have everything under control.  No matter what anyone thought, you always had the foresight and intuition to know that you were doing the right thing for you and for us.  Everyone thought a full time working and single mother couldn't possibly own her own home and raise her son right, but you did it.  You did everything and you did it in such a way that we all stopped and stared in awe. Like the time you decided to move across the country just to "check it out" and not only did you move, you went back to school, got another degree and were even planning to start your own business.  You worked longer and harder just to send me to private schools and take us on vacations and I now realize how blessed I was to have someone like you giving me life.

Even throughout your career, both passengers and coworkers alike always commented on how wonderfully delightful and professional you were.  Your friends used to say that "no one had to worry when Cathy was working the flight" and that was true in everything you did.  No one ever had to worry when you were around because you always made us all feel safe and protected all of us.  Everyone knew that you had the brains, wit and competence to handle any situation.  You strived for knowledge, were a stickler for education and had a tremendous wit.

Even in your final days, you remained calm and collected and never uttered one sign of despair, because even then you protected me and everyone around you.  We were all so afraid and so unsure and you handled everything in such a way that let us know "everything was going to be okay."

With everything in your life, however, you always stopped to dance, laugh and live.  I promise to truly live my life and I will always remember to always keep music, flowers and books in the house.  I will look after everyone, make a name for myself and take care of Jimmy.  I miss you so much, think of you every day and can't wait to see you again.

Love your son,

On early Thursday morning, December 3rd, 2004, Catherine T. Shea lost a fierce fight with cancer.  At the age of 58 she retired from American Airlines and lived out her remaining days with close friends and family in New York.  There are no true words which can express the tremendous sense of loss both my family and I feel without her here.  The one thing we can do to keep Catherine's spirit and qualities alive is to congratulate those who exhibit them.

A scholarship is currently being created in conjunction with Spencer Griffin and the Guardian Brain Foundation in Catherine's name.  This scholarship will be made available to children within the graduating class of parochial high schools on Long Island.  Students will need to exhibit certain academic criteria.  However, they will also need to write an essay on how they will celebrate their life.  The subject that each student will be required to write about is "Life is a Celebration."  Now that these high school children will be entering the real world, they are going to encounter both good and bad times.  We would like them to write about what properties they are going to exhibit which will help them celebrate their life on this earth as Catherine did.  Contributions can be made in the name of Catherine T. Shea and sent to the following address:

The Guardian Brain Foundation
P.O Box 1216
Bellmore, NY 11710
Catherine died of a Malignant Brain Tumor almost exactly two years after she was diagnosed.  100,000 individuals every year are diagnosed with brain tumors with in the United States.  With your help, hopefully, they will find successful treatment.


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