Lucy Dinneen Barry’s most endearing qualities were personified in her final months as she faced the prospect of losing her cancer battle to melanoma.
“Despite an absolute brutal four months of sickness, Luce’s good humor, positive attitude and an appreciation of all those around her was unbelievable,” said her husband Jim Barry. “Luce was worried more about how her illness was affecting me and the boys than herself. She was a true inspiration to us and an absolute pillar of strength in showing us how to handle and attack this brutal situation.”
Jim and Lucy’s five sons led a tag-team effort to provide comfort at her bedside; yet, at every visit she would reverse the roles and do the comforting.
Barry’s son Matt recalls “on one of her last days in the hospital and on earth” the bitterly cold temperatures were sweeping across Chicago and she was aware.
“I was arriving and my brother Kevin was leaving her hospital room, and we both had coats on. When were leaning over to give her hugs and kisses, my mom, who had been brought to her knees by both cancer and the poison the doctor were using to treat her, could only do what she had done for almost three decades, and that was to worry that her little boys’ coats were not heavy enough.”
The Beverly native and Saint Cajetan graduate leaves behind a legacy of her empathy for others, laced with rich humor, a sharp wit and a pertinent sense of literature and daily news.
Barry contracted melanoma last year and fought valiantly through a series of procedures and medicines before dying of cardiac arrest Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, surrounded by family members.
Family and friends plan to participate in this year’s March4Meg Walk/Run fundraiser in Evergreen Park Saturday, March 29 as “Team Lucy,” which gratified the sons, including Jim and twins Chris and Tom, said husband Jim.
“The poetic irony of her illness is that she was the one guiding us through her struggle,” said son Kevin.
Barry’s Beverly friends Judy Millerick and Nancy Barrett were frequent visitors to her bedside as well.
“The last several months did not provide Lucy with much to laugh about, but she never lost her sense of humor,” said Millerick.
“It was a delight to see the sense of humor between Lucy and Jim,” said Barrett “He was the love of her life. She had a gift for writing and in college she wrote lengthy letters to Jim that were worthy of publishing – hilarious and witty.”
Many recalled how proud Barry was of her Irish Heritage.
“Lucy learned Irish dance as a young girl long before it was fashionable,” said Barrett, “and it was always a lot of fun to see her break out in an Irish jig, usually at the tail end of a party. A great memory I will cherish!”
Barry’s Naperville neighbor Eileen Radasevich likens the Barry family's arrival to their block to “hitting the jackpot.”
“My favorite memories with Lucy, I think, are all the conversations we had in the street, between our houses,” said Radesevich. “Many of them took place right after the kids went to school and one or both of us were still in pajamas. I always knew I could count on her for anything, be it for something she had in her pantry or a real emergency.”
Barry was a graduate of Saint Cajetan Grade School in 1971, followed four years later from Mother McAuley and then from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota in 1979.
Though the role of mother and wife was of utmost importance to her, Barry was an accomplished writer and even toiled at an accounting firm for a time.
Some regarded her as an “armchair lawyer” for her ability to stay on top of the news and insinuate her knowledge and smarts into any conversation.
“My mom was so many things to so many people,” said Matt. “A daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, an aunt, a teacher, a dear, dear friend, a listener. But the roles that were far and away most important to her were that of an adoring wife, and a mother—a loving, caring, ferociously loyal mother.”
Son Kevin remarked on how her selflessness fostered love among friends.
"Among the many things she taught me both explicitly and implicitly, is that all that really counts in this life is how you treat the people you love. In return, she had nothing short of an army of loved ones that only that type of innate kindness can earn."
A memorial visitation will be held on Wednesday February 5, 2014 at the Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home and Crematory, 24021 Royal Worlington Dr. Naperville, from 2 to 9 p.m. A memorial Mass will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 10 a.m., at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, 87th & Lisson Rd. Naperville.
Donations in Lucy Barry’s name can be made for education, awareness and research funding for a melanoma cure at:www.March4Meg.com.