Maureen Elizabeth Van der Waag passed away peacefully at Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson, NY on Friday, November 12, at the age of 83 (b. 6/20/1938).
A beautiful soul and a saint - Mom was a selfless caregiver and faithful servant leader. She was a beloved wife to the late Walter Van der Waag, mother to Eileen, Walter, and Robert, mother-in-law to Steve, Debbie, Shanmatie and Julie. Beloved Nana to Caitlin and Christopher and Daniel, Joseph, and Adam, guardian to Richard (deceased) and Kathy, daughter to Joseph and Margeret Noone (both deceased), and sister to Joseph (deceased), Marilar (deceased), Lawrence (deceased), Eileen, and Geri. Maureen also was a cherished aunt, sister-in-law, God-mother, neighbor and friend.
Maureen’s most important relationship was with her soulmate - the love of her life - Walter C. Van der Waag. On August 22, 1959, Walter and Maureen were married at St. Kevin’s Catholic Church, their hometown parish in Queens, NY, and they had their reception at the newly renovated Huntington TownHouse, which was located a few miles away from the home in Huntington Station they would eventually live in years later.
Family was penultimate for Walter and Maureen. Both raised and rooted in families that valued its sense of belonging and commitment to shared values, they were eager to raise their own children. Maureen’s first full pregnancy, however, ended in tragedy. After months of carrying two children (fraternal twins) to term, both died a few days after being born. Walter and Maureen were devastated. She was told that having children would be almost impossible. Anchored in faith, they did not give up their dream. Walter and Maureen decided to pursue adoption. They adopted Eileen in 1964 and Walter in 1967.
In 1974, at the age of 36, Maureen got pregnant again. Given her past history of pregnancy, Maureen received entry into a newly created “high risk” pregnancy clinic at North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, NY. Monitored closely throughout the nine months of pregnancy, she received excellent care in this program. In March of 1975, Robert was born. Deemed a “miracle” baby by family, friends, and the media - the story appeared in Newsday and Good Morning America.
Through the late 70’s, Mom stayed home to raise her three children while Walter continued to work in banking and became an entrepreneur. During the early 80’s, Maureen eventually returned to her vocation as a nurse. She did homecare assistance and eventually worked full time at Huntington Hospital where she worked until her retirement twenty years later. She saw the face of Jesus in those whom she administered care bringing them joy, hope, laughter, and comfort.
During this period, Maureen continued to serve as a loving and devoted mother. Walter and Maureen also graciously opened their home to the children of several of their brothers and sisters to live at their home in Huntington during these years. By 1990, Walter and Maureen’s adult children had moved out of the house, gotten married, and they lived together with Robert in the house in Huntington while Maureen continued to work at Huntington Hospital.
On October 24, 1990, tragedy struck Maureen and her family. Walter died suddenly of a heart attack. Devastated, she remained resolute through her unwavering faith in God to continue to live her life to the fullest. Maureen continued to raise her family with love and compassion. She even took the courageous step to help her nephew Richard, who died in a tragic car accident in 1993, and niece Kathy, by becoming their legal guardian only six months after Walter’s passing. As a single woman now with three teenage children to raise, she remained “Mom” to all of them as well as their spouses. Officially retiring from nursing in 1998, she watched her children as well as her many beloved nieces and nephews move forward with their adult lives. She also became to her grandchildren the “World’s Greatest Nana” as the license plate frame on her car denoted (the license plate frame was a gift from Walter which everyone joked about, but deep down also believed to be true). She attended all their school functions, events, and games. She served for each of them as their biggest cheerleader. Always encouraging, she gave herself fully to them. She taught her family to love in the face of hardship and to continue to find joy in those present. Maureen was love in action!
During these years, Maureen also loved spending time on vacation with family and friends. Her international travels to Europe took her to England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands. On these trips, she probably befriended half of Europe. Never shy to strike up a conversation with a stranger, she asked numerous people for directions. There was nothing funnier, or more embarrassing for her travel companions, than watching her ask for directions in English (louder and more slowly) to Europeans on the streets. A true sign of God’s providence and love for Maureen was the fact that she always got to where she wanted to go. It was also another wonderful sign of her faith in people and her belief that they are mainly good.
This year marked 31 years since Walter’s passing, exactly the same number of years that they had been married when he died in 1990. With Maureen’s passing, we pray that Walter and Maureen are reunited in Heaven laughing, having fun together, and making up for lost time. We pray that it's an epic love story rekindled. Thank you Maureen! God bless you Mom! We miss you! We love you!
Visitation will take place at St James Funeral Home located on 829 Middle Country Rd, St James, NY 11780 on Thursday, November 18 from 2-4 and from 7-9.
Funeral Mass will take place at the Church of St. Aidan, which is located on 505 Willis Avenue, Williston Park, NY 11596 on Friday, November 19 starting at 10:00am.
Interment following the Funeral Service will take place at Holy Rood Cemetery located on 111 Old Country Rd, Westbury, NY 11590.
Memorial contributions can be made to The Walter C. Van der Waag and Maureen E. Van der Waag Memorial Scholarship at Bishop McNamara High School by clicking here: https://www.givecampus.com/campaigns/16625/donations/new
To send flowers to Maureen's family, please visit our floral store.