Anne O'Kane: A zest for life right to the end
ANNE O'Kane will surely have danced her way into heaven just as she danced all through her 85 years on this earth.
She had a great zest for life and her infectious smile lit up every room she entered.
She was born Anne McNamee, the youngest child of Ned and Cassie in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone in November 1932.
Her home was constantly filled with music and her two brothers, Edward and Eugene, were founder members of that great showband of the 1950s and '60s, the Melody Aces.
Anne married Martin and moved to Draperstown where they had four children, Pat, Emmet, Dermot and Rosemary.
However, her beloved husband died suddenly in 1967, aged just 36, and Anne was left a very young widow indeed.
After a couple of years, she got a job as a supervisor in the local primary school canteen and many a person fondly remembers how she danced and played with pupils in the school yard.
She kept herself busy at all times. She became a member of the board of directors of Ballinascreen Credit Union in the early 1970s and then worked there full-time some years later. Right up to the last, Anne was an avid promoter of it.
As well as working full time, she was a member of the Ballinascreen set dancers and they took part in all the Scór competitions. They even won an All-Ireland - a source of great pride to her and her team.
Anne was excellent at cooking and baking and in later years she went to look after Rev James McGlinchey, parish priest in Magilligan and then Buncrana.
She took pride in the presentation of food and revelled in cooking for the bishop and various visitors to the parochial house.
Even at home, Anne would spend hours baking delicious cakes and pies, only to give them all away to friends and family.
Sadly, she lost her grandson Cathair in 1993 and then her son Emmet in 2000 while he was at home from Canada. But at all times, her faith pulled her through life and she prayed fervently to the Sacred Heart right up until her dying breath. Many a novena was completed for family members.
Anne kept up to date with all technology, owning an iPad and a mobile phone which she used regularly to keep in touch with her children and grandchildren.
Even in later years, she joined all types of classes and groups around Draperstown. Her many paintings adorn the walls of family and friends. She had so much energy and a positive outlook on life.
A neighbour said at the wake that she was dancing the 'sevens' with her feet while waiting for her change at the local supermarket just a few weeks before her death. Another said that she "lived until she died".
Anne O'Kane died peacefully in hospital on New Year's Eve 2017 after a very short illness. She leaves behind her sister Kitty, sons, daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
May she rest in peace and dance through heaven.