Friends and family members held candles and sang carols one night earlier this month outside the Shanahan home in Manlius. Inside, Maureen, 54, lay in a hospital bed; the front door open so she could hear them sing. The group then bowed for a brief prayer, and as they began to clear, Maureen's nurse called out to the crowd: "Maureen says thank you. It was beautiful."
The next morning on Dec. 13, with husband Dick, son Jesse and dear friend Linda Shields by her side, Maureen said goodbye. She died after a two-year battle with ovarian cancer.
"Maureen touched many people's lives," said friend and Manlius Village Board trustee Janice Abdo-Rott at the Dec. 12 benefit that friends had arranged. "[So] many people loving her, she's just amazing."
More than 300 people attended the afternoon fundraiser. Over 100 local businesses donated raffle items and one couldn't walk far without bumping into volunteers identified by name tags.
Maureen was on the Manlius Village Parks and Recreation Board for about 10 years. She was employed as a hairstylist at Ambiance in Fayetteville, and persevered until late October when doctors told her the fight was futile. Despite the grave news, her spirits remained high, her daughter Jenna said.
What inspired Jenna most was her mother's strength - and spunk - in the midst of trials.
For Jesse, his mom's sense of humor infused hope. That's what kept her going, he said.
Shields, who was there until Maureen drew her last breath, recalls when they first met. She said she was a little nervous because they had quite opposite personalities - Maureen was loud, Shields quiet.
"Then I realized it was just that Italian blood in her," Shields said. "[Maureen] just said that's how it was. She was one of the most sincere people I knew."