Clarence McKay: A Patient Perspective

Clarence McKay

Gardiner, Maine

“For 73 years I walked hand-in hand with you... And when our time on earth is over, in Heaven too, you will have my hand."
Clarence F. McKay, Sr.




When Clarence McKay finished high school, his father asked him “What are you going to do with yourself now?” His answer, even after all these years, is an easy one: “I spent a lot of time on my knees asking God for an angel,” he says. And then his face lights up with memory, “And boy, did he ever answer.”

Now 94, Clarence’s Gardiner home is a sanctuary to the things he loves the most. Irene, his angel and late wife of 73 years, is second only to elements of their Catholic faith which they shared through evening prayers and life’s joys and sorrows.

Clarence and Irene’s love story grew from end-of-day walks when he would escort her home, boss’s orders, from Laverdiere’s Drug Store in Bath where he was a manager and she was an assistant. Their story survived his military service during World War II, the birth of 16 children and the loss of one. The pair reveled in one another and the love-filled family they built. They enjoyed canning endless quarts of vegetables from their garden, 4th of July barbeques and family reunions. They traveled; Irene danced and sang wherever she was and Clarence always had his camera at the ready to capture life. When he finally retired, ending his communications career with the Diocese of Portland, he joined Irene in the thriving antiques business she built, earning her own reputation as the “Glass Lady from New England” – an honest and fair dealer from coast to coast.


They were wonderful partners in life so it only made sense that when Irene’s story began to wind down a couple months after their 73rd wedding anniversary, it did so at home where they had celebrated with family, honored their faith, built a business and loved one another unconditionally. MaineGeneral Hospice made that possible. “At first it felt like they were taking over,” Clarence recalls. “But then you realize how much you need someone to do just that, someone to care for her and guide you…It meant everything to have Irene home – everything.”

Irene passed away Sunday, November 15, 2015 surrounded by the people she loved in a familiar place with 73 years of memories around her. Clarence now spends much of his time in this same room with Hospice caretakers of his own coming and going, caring for and guiding him and his children as he navigates his 94th year, revels in family and faith and waits to be hand in hand again with Irene.

Your support enables Hospice to keep families like Clarence and Irene’s together during these important final days. Whether Hospice has been part of your life, or you appreciate the support it gives others, please consider a gift to MaineGeneral Hospice below.


MaineGeneral Hospice is a team of highly trained professionals and volunteers who work with patients, care providers and families to make sure patients receive compassionate, individualized care to maintain dignity and enhance quality of life during end-of-life transitions.

Donated funds help subsidize important therapies used to maintain quality of life.These important therapeutic modalities include music, art and massage. Last year 416 Hospice patients benefited from music experience visits, 198 from art therapy visits and 983 from massage visits.

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