Pictures of Roma Claire Guth
August 9, 1922 - September 26, 2005



My mother was born in 1922, one of seven children born to Stephen Lynch and Mary Laura Thibadeau Lynch. She was raised on a family farm in Alberta, Canada.

She met my father while teaching elementary school in one-room schoolhouse. Five days later, he proposed to her. They were married in 1947 and she moved to join him at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.

It must have been scary for a 24-year old girl to leave behind in Canada her family, her friends, and everyone she knew. The poem by Robert Frost entitled The Road Less Taken, brings to mind her fateful decision:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

While my parents were living in South Bend, my sister Gloria and brother Terry were born.

In 1955, my father accepted a position at ORNL, and the family moved to Oak Ridge, and this is where my sister Laura and I were born. She resided in Oak Ridge for the rest of her life.

As I reflect on my mother, she was a very giving person. Her children were always the center of her life. One example of this is that in the 43 years I have known her, she never once took a vacation anywhere without having her children along. That gave her children the wonderful opportunity to experience places like San Juan, P.R., Washington, D.C., Miami, Honolulu, Tampa, and Canada. If anyone had stopped to ask her Roma, what is your greatest accomplishment in life? She would have answered without hesitation my children.

There are also numerous instances of my mother giving to others outside the family. She used to leave a large thermos filled with ice water and four to six fresh cups for the men who picked up garbage in our neighborhood. She did this year after year quietly, without any recognition, and expecting nothing in return.

Other examples include the way she took in a lady from St. Mary s parish who had lost her job and was unable to pay her apartment rent. This woman was basically homeless, and she lived with us for about a month. She also sometimes gave people rides to church to attend morning mass and brought them back home. For the pilgrimages to Conyers, she would rent a bus to take a large group from St. Mary s parish, and if people did not pay in advance, she made up the difference out of her own pocket. The point is that she gave her money and her time without expecting anything in return.

The poet Walt Whitman once said, Behold, I do not give lectures or little charity. When I give, I give myself. And that she did; she gave of herself. I learned how to care for an elderly parent by watching her loving care for my father.

People say to me It must have been hard to care for a frail and elderly parent. But I answer this truthfully. On some days it was hard, but overall, it was a great pleasure to live, talk, eat, and laugh with her each day. She had a very good sense of humor throughout her life.

Although Alzheimer s affected my mother s short-term memory, she compensated for the loss by being extremely courteous when assistance was provided to her. For the past eight years, she always said thank you, whenever I got her a utensil, or something to drink, or brought her food, or brought anything to her. Have you ever heard of Alzheimer s making a person even nicer? That is my true-life experience.

My mother was proud of her Irish heritage.


May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.





I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had my birth.




Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
I ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I ll lead you all in the dance, said he.





My grief is silenced,
But it is not diminished.
Grief is never diminished;
One merely hides it deep in one's heart
And calls it by another name --

Katherine Peters Dunlap




Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
I ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I ll lead you all in the dance, said he.









My mother liked the song "They'll Know We Are Christians" played on the guitar. Here are the song's lyrics.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love.



October 15, 2022. The following poem was featured this month on the podcast, "The Slowdown," read by the latest U.S. Poet Laureate, Ada Limon. Although this poem is written by an Asian-American poet about her own mother, the poem struck a chord with me and reminded me how my own mother brought me (and other members of our family) cut fruit in a bowl. The poem is available at this link:

Jennifer G. Lai


is that cut up fruit is the ultimate Asian 
parent gesture of love. 

there are posts like: 

          TFW your mom cuts fruit  
          when you're up late at night  
          and you see her eating the leftover bits  
          around the core, before putting the nicely  
          cut apple slices in a bowl to bring to you  

          if ur mum doesn't randomly bring u  
          cut up fruit is she even ur mum  

          one meme in two frames--  
          in the first, a man reads a book,  
          and you can only see the cover:  
          Asian Parents' Guide to Apologizing  

          in the second, the inside  
          of the book. the response:  
          come eat  

now that I am older, I need  
to get the translation right.
no -- there were never any sorrys  
just cold plates of nectarines, 
bright pomelo, ice-raw starfruit, 
fragrant lychee. sweet ya li pears, 
without their papery brown skins, 

at Jing Fong, at Sam Woo, 
at Mei Sum, at Garden, 
the restaurants do this, too. 

tonight, the apron-splattered man 
with grandfather hair, carries a 
chipped plate to the register. 
the server counts the other table's change, 
but jokes with me: crowded enough for you, 
ah neoi?

          neoi couldn mean girl or woman 
          but it also means daughter. 
          I have spent years making sure. 

he places the oranges on my table. 
they do this for all the customers, 
but oh, what a glitch in the matrix 
tonight. my mother saw me alone 
with my empty bowl and splintered face 
on wednesday, and she is here. 

I know there is a math that measures time, 
but what about a math that accounts 
for logic? How should I explain the strangers 
who will bring me fruit after she is gone? 

it has been 31 years of my mother 
bringing me cut up fruit without 
even saying anything. 

sometimes she would put 
the fruit directly into my mouth. 

tonight, I will eat all of the orange, 
sweet or not. I will go home, 
I will call her. I will buy an apple, 
and cut it for myself. 

all she ever wanted 
was for me to hurry, finish 
before it got brown, no worries 
if she did not get a taste.