Loving, protective, family-oriented, bold, fearless, funny
The oldest daughter of five children, Anna, was family-oriented and a nurturing, motherly figure to her siblings. When Anna’s mother Donna was going to school and working, Anna picked up the slack in the family, keeping the house orderly, braiding hair, and making sure the kids were well-groomed and appropriately dressed. She was also stubborn, outspoken, tough, and protective of those she loved.
Anna was creative and artistic. She loved to change her house around every month and was often asked for decorating advice by her sisters. If she had gone to college, she would be an interior decorator. She was also beautiful, took pride in her appearance, and wouldn’t go anywhere without looking her best.
When Anna was 13, she displayed signs of depression. She was taken to the doctor immediately, but there was no clear diagnosis given. Eventually, Anna had severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Anna was prescribed Klonopin and Xanax. She became dependent on them and eventually self-medicated to ease her condition.
Anna had two children, a daughter, Caitlin, now 21, and a son, Adrian, now 16. Caitlin stated, “My mom was my best friend and confidant, she really got me, I could tell her anything.” She said her mom was courageous, kind, funny, and always encouraging. Adrian remembers his mom as a great mother and “the best cook in the family.” Caitlin is now living on her own and working as a pharmacy tech for Cigna. Adrian lives with Anna’s mom, Donna.
Anna was animated, often acting out something funny to illustrate a story to the family. Each of her siblings has special memories of Anna. Tony, the youngest brother and the closest to Anna said, “She was so funny and bold. She loved her family above all else.” David said, “As two true Geminis me and Anna bumped heads a lot, she had a tough exterior and a very caring heart.” The three words sister Melanie said come to mind when thinking of Anna are nurturing, protective and hilarious. And Alebia, the youngest of the siblings, said that Anna always took care of her. “If Tony picked on me, Anna would sit on him and let me do whatever I wanted to him. She was my hero and defender.”
Anna’s nurturing spirit and kindness were not limited to her family. After Anna passed away, Donna heard many stories about how she helped others. Donna said, “She never talked about the good that she did. She didn’t need or want recognition. She was innately helpful, though she was struggling herself.”
Since Anna’s passing, Donna helped start a non-profit called Project Addiction, Reversing the Stigma, which educates people regarding mental illness and addiction to change the way people characterize those who suffer from substance use disorder. A nurse, Donna also distributes Narcan, trains people in its use, and informs them about the Good Samaritan Act. The act provides legal protection to those who try to help others in the event of an emergency, such as overdose.
Anna’s mother, Donna McGill, her daughter, Caitlin, and son, Adrian, and siblings, Tony, David Melanie, and Alebia, provided information for this narrative.
June 10, 1978-November 25, 2018
Age 40-Lived with the disease of addiction 24 years