Rosemary: A Strong American Woman
By William John Fitzgerald
$15 114 pp.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
– Matthew 5:8
If you were to write a memoir about a friend or family member who inspired you, who brought light into your life, who would it be? Perhaps it would be the older sibling who listened to you relate the trials of middle school drama. Maybe it would be the spouse who held your hand through a long and difficult illness. You might even want to share with the world the story of the teacher who believed in your potential when no one else could see it. God places people in our lives to encourage us on our journey and ease our burdens. At times our experiences are bigger than us and too good not to share with others. If someone has had a profound enough impact on our lives, it could even lead us to write a book about them.
Hopefully, everyone has at least one person in their lives they look up to, someone who shines the light of Jesus and personifies the Beatitudes, which highlight humility, mercy, peacefulness. In his book Rosemary: A Strong American Woman, William John Fitzgerald, her priest brother, shows countless ways Rosemary Fitzgerald Marthaler exemplified this “Blessed Way.” She sought out friends and welcomed everyone she met into her circle, just as Jesus would do. She seemed to see the best in everyone.
A beautiful tribute, the book contains quotes and remembrances from several family members and friends, each affirming that Rosemary was indeed a warm and caring individual. Even glimpsing the complimentary photograph of Rosemary that graces the cover, her soft blonde hair trimmed just above her ears, earrings dangling, a large, sparkling necklace, a smile dancing across her lips, and a light in her eyes, the reader senses that this is indeed a special lady.
The book opens with a couple of chapters of family history as well as an account of the horrific accident in a munitions factory where Rosemary worked, which radically altered the trajectory of her life. In addition to the accident, she faced the physical and emotional challenges of bearing nine children in ten years and then a tenth child, at whose birth she almost died. She would go on to lose two children and her husband. Through it all, Rosemary was resilient, maintaining her faith and even joy. It would seem she was a pillar of strength to those who knew her.
In addition to highlighting Rosemary’s life, their countless visits, and his ocean cruise adventures with her, the author also details his own time spent in seminary, as well as a synopsis of the Vietnam War. Rosemary’s son, Dennis, served in the Air Force during Vietnam. The inclusion of this chapter is an example of the fact that war affects us all. Through these accounts, Fitzgerald invites us to share a glimpse of the life and world surrounding the subject of his work.
Rosemary was kind and generous. She was a charitable donor and volunteer for the Kino Border Initiative, a halfway house for banished immigrants in Omaha, Nebraska. It is for this reason that all royalties from this book will be donated to this, Rosemary’s favorite charity.
Through this book, I discovered a caring, big-hearted woman I would not otherwise have known about. Rosemary was an ordinary woman who possessed extraordinary grace and strength. Reading accounts like these inspire us to not only appreciate the seemingly ordinary—but unsung—heroes in our lives who radiate joy, who remain strong through hardship, who sacrifice for others, but also compel us to be a source of soul and strength to those around us. May we, each one of us, aspire to be a light for another’s path.
Amy Nicholson hopes to encourage and inspire others through her writing. She has been published in Country Woman, the Old Schoolhouse, the Lookout, and other publications. In addition to writing and discovering grace in ordinary places, Amy substitute teaches. Visit her at: www.amynicholson14.wordpress.com.