June 5, 2021- The man in full sat in a lawn chair, next to his wife of 46 years, and enjoyed being surrounded by their seven children and twenty-three grandchildren. This was the type of family gathering to which he, and the other forty-seven of his maternal grandmother’s “babies”, had grown accustomed.
He grew into manhood by becoming a diver in the United States Army, which included service in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. One sultry afternoon, he paid a call on one of his cousins, who was also stationed in Vietnam, showing that there were still means for soldiers and family members to find one another-even in a war zone.
In civilian life, he distinguished himself by earning his degree in Business Administration, and using it in a variety of ways- serving as a civic administrator in six communities, across his adopted state of Maine and building his own contracting business, all of which kept home and hearth in good stead, as his seven children grew into adulthood.
He was the second born of seven, and kept his siblings close, especially in the dark days of 2006, when four family members passed on, within months of one another. He kept some of his cousins close, too, even as our lives diverged. When I was tossed out of my apartment, under what turned out to be false pretenses, in February, 1977, I had a place to sleep for a few days, until the next more permanent residence presented itself. He and his wife kept my excess possessions for a year, when it was time for me to move, of a sudden, from Maine to Arizona.
That was who John Edward Madigan, Jr., one of my closest paternal cousins, was. He built a solid family, alongside his darling Mary; built much of the house in which they raised their family; built trust and confidence, even among those with whom he disagreed, socially and politically; built a successful contracting business, from scratch. He even began to build a place for himself in the Maine State Legislature, before cancer and COVID-19 muddied the political waters.
The greatest thing John built, though, was his heart. He seldom, if ever, missed a child’s or grandchild’s special event, whether religious, athletic, scholastic or any of the once-in-a-lifetime keepsakes. There is no life he touched that wasn’t the better for his having been there. When, on June 2, 2021, he went to be with his Lord, and to rejoin his parents, brother, sister-in-law and nephew who preceded him in death, John would surely have entered their presence with his shining eyes and mischievous grin.
John built a palace of love.