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Mary Constance Wilson

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Published on February 17, 2023

Mary Constance Wilson died peacefully at the Care Dimensions Hospice House on January 17, 2023 after living with ALS for two years. She was 69 years old.

Connie Wilson was born on October 5, 1953 in Hamilton, New York. She was raised in Columbus, Ohio by her mother, Constance Wilson, with older sisters Michelle and Alexis. She enjoyed spending summers at her grandparents’ dairy farm in upstate New York where she picked berries, caught fireflies, and played in the nearby creek with cousins.

After graduating from high school, Connie followed her mother into the nursing profession. She attended nursing school at Ohio State University and worked with her mother on an inpatient psychiatric unit. Seeking a break from her life in Ohio, Connie took a job dealing cards on a Carnival cruise ship where she met John Pierce, a trombone player with the ship’s band. John was the love of Connie’s life and she followed him to Boston where they married and built a strong and loving life together.

They bought a house in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where they raised their daughter and two sons. The family enjoyed picnics, hiking, camping trips, and visiting relatives. They developed a wide network of friends and loved to host dinner parties and annual Labor Day and Memorial Day barbecues. Connie enjoyed yoga and went on many retreats, expanding her spirituality and her circle of friends. Connie also enjoyed being home and spending time with her dogs. She was passionate about politics and an avid viewer of CNN. She was a fierce advocate both personally and professionally and always spoke up when she witnessed injustice.

Connie embarked on a 38-year nursing career at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) working in Surgical Intensive Care, Labor and Delivery, and outpatient Oncology Infusion. She was known for her professional standards and caring relationships with her patients and their families. She went above and beyond, visiting sick patients after her shifts and buying flowers to celebrate the end of their treatment. Her passion for nursing took her to Indonesia, Haiti, and Louisiana, where she joined relief efforts for victims of natural disasters. She also served many years on the MGH Ethics Committee, making clinical presentations, and engaging in important conversations. Connie developed lasting friendships with many colleagues. In her retirement she made her grandmother’s famous spaghetti dinner for the oncology infusion unit.

Connie was known for her big heart and generous spirit. She had a very close relationship with her sister Michelle and cared for her during the five years she lived with lung cancer. She loved shopping at Costco, filling her cart with her favorite snacks and groceries for her children. She sent thoughtful care packages to her daughter and close friends. Toward the end of her life, she framed photographs and sent them to loved ones. Nothing brought her more joy than becoming a grandmother the last nine months of her life. Watching Connie and Liam exchange smiles and laughter delighted everyone.

Connie was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2020 and she navigated the loss of her health and physical functions with incredible courage and grace. She was fiercely independent and continued to drive and take care of daily tasks as long as she could. Connie put up a fight before succumbing to losses, using her phone to communicate and continuing to eat and walk despite choking and falling. She practiced yoga until her body refused to cooperate, and even attended a yoga retreat when she could barely walk. Connie stopped driving when it became dangerous but refused to part with her drivers license. She lived with gratitude for what she had and focused on the loved ones in her life. Connie had a wonderful sense of humor, cracking jokes frequently despite not being able to speak. Every day she fought for joy and expressed it through smiles, thumbs up, and sometimes inappropriate laughter. We are grateful that Connie was able to live with some degree of autonomy until the end.

Connie is survived by her husband of 38 years, John; daughter Alison and her spouse Christine, grandson, Liam; sons, Matthew and Michael; sister, Alexis; an aunt, niece, nephew, cousins, and many friends and chosen family. She was preceded in death by her dear sister Michelle and her mother. Connie’s family would like to thank her professional care team, Care Dimensions Hospice House, MA ALS Association, and Compassionate Care ALS for guidance and support navigating the challenges associated with her illness. A special thanks to her cousin Barbara, friend Harriet, and caregivers Kaidy, Lashan, Francine, and Gina, for providing incredible care to Connie at the end of her life and becoming part of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Compassionate Care ALS.