Meg Coyne, 45, mother who extended love to all


Sitting in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute more than a year ago, a chemotherapy IV attached to her arm, Meg Beatty Coyne gazed out the sixth-floor window at a view that stretched over Boston’s rooftops to the neighborhood of her childhood.

“I grew up on Perham Street in West Roxbury, and nothing bad ever happened,” she told the Globe that day. “Nobody died. Nobody got old.”

In her mid-40s, she faced an illness that was poised to take her from her seven children and husband, for whom she held a love so abundant it also buoyed her friends and her children’s friends and anyone who passed through the door of her Roslindale house.


Terminal cancer was unthinkable and, frankly, inconvenient. Told by a doctor to prepare for the inevitable, she quipped: “Get my affairs in order? I can’t even get my laundry in order.”

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Nearly two years after doctors gave her seven to 10 months to live, Mrs. Coyne died of esophageal cancer May 7 in the West Roxbury home where her mother still lives. She was 45 and had resided for many years with her family in Roslindale.

“One thing about her, she loved all the kids,” said her husband, Peadar. “It didn’t matter whose kid it was — she loved anybody’s kids. She had patience. She was a great mom.”

Foremost was her own brood, ranging in age from 22 to 6: Sinead and Sean, Adrienne and Alison, Christopher and Mary Catherine, and her youngest, Patrick. Sean is serving in the Army, in Kansas at the moment, and the rest are in Roslindale.

“She had seven kids,” said Mrs. Coyne’s brother, Jay of West Roxbury. “In today’s day and age, that’s very unheard of, but she had so much love to give. She loved every one of her kids so much, and you can see that each one of them has a big part of Meg inside.”


As Mrs. Coyne’s illness progressed and she required more care, she stayed with her mother in West Roxbury while her husband switched to a night shift in order to be home with the children during the day.

“She wanted to do everything she could for her children and husband, even up to the time she passed away,” said her mother, Margaret Beatty.

“She stayed with me after her treatments, and when she felt better, she wanted to go home. She would still always say, ‘Mom, I need to go home to the kids.’ And she would. She would pick up enough strength to go home. She was very strong in that way.”

Mrs. Coyne was the second of three children born to the former Margaret Foley, who grew up in County Sligo in Ireland, and John J. Beatty, who was from County Galway. Joe Beatty, who died in 2007, had led the Laborers Union local.

“She was a great girl, really; a wonderful daughter, I must say,” Mrs. Coyne’s mother said. “Meg was always like a grown-up.”


A year younger than her sister, Mary Devane, Mrs. Coyne graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy in Brighton in 1985. A few years after that she met Peadar Coyne, who, like her father, was from County Galway.

“We got on good,” he recalled. “We knew a lot of the same people.”

As one child followed another, “she was always busy,” her husband said. “She would bring them anywhere she could bring them. She was always on the road with them. That meant a lot to the kids that she was able to do that. Anything she did with them was always coming from the heart.”

He paused, and then added: “The poor kids miss her so much.”

In 1997, Mary Devane and two of her children died in a car accident. Mrs. Coyne helped with the upbringing of her sister’s two other children, who survived.

“Meg just loved the family and the kids’ friends,” her mother said. “She’d do anything for them.”

Mrs. Coyne, her brother said, was there for everyone, putting herself last.

“She was a mom first, she was a sister first, she was a wife first, she was a daughter first,” he said.

She was also the connecting point for disparate lives in her circles of acquaintances and relatives.

“A lot of her friends, they came from different areas of her life,” her brother said. “A lot were mothers she met at school. She was a centerpiece in the community. She would take people from various parts of her life, who normally wouldn’t interact, and she brought everyone together. She had that great power about her. That was Meg.”

In summer 2010, Mrs. Coyne sought medical help when she experienced difficulty swallowing.

“I got my death sentence in July,” she told the Globe in spring 2011. “But I don’t accept it.”

The diagnosis was Stage 4 esophageal cancer.

“You’re very sick,” her doctor told her.

“I’m fine,” she said.

And in a way, she was.

“It didn’t take an ounce out of her,” Mrs. Coyne’s husband said of the initial time after she was diagnosed. “It was just like another day to her, she tried to keep going. She didn’t say too much about it. She didn’t want to upset anybody. She thought she was going to beat it. That was her goal: ‘I’m going to get through this.’”

Mrs. Coyne “was a very positive person,” her brother said. “As I said in my eulogy, if I had a down time, often she was my first call. She had a way of picking people up.”

A funeral Mass was said in May for Mrs. Coyne in St. Theresa of Avila Church in West Roxbury. Burial was in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury.

“A lot of people when they pass say, ‘I hope I’m remembered, I hope I’ve achieved something,’ ” her brother said. “I’ll tell you, Meg achieved seven wonderful works with her children. It’s unfair that their mom isn’t going to see them get married or on their prom day, or that call at college, but the time she spent with them was absolutely tremendous.”

Bryan Marquard can be reached at