posttrib
SIMMERING 
Weather Updates

Mother recalls her late son’s many, many gifts

O’SheMcCarthy | Phoprovided

O’Shea McCarthy | Photo provided

storyidforme: 58760515
tmspicid: 21391368
fileheaderid: 10060798

FYI

Shea’s earlier recordings can be heard by going to http://www.soundcloud.com/sheamccarthy1988. The music Shea made in the last year of his life will be available in the spring.

Updated: January 12, 2014 6:08AM



“Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air. Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body, take it I say, it is not me.”

— Herman Melville

Heather McCarthy lives in the Miller neighborhood of Gary. She is a friend of mine who appeared in this column five or six years ago. Last month, I received a private Facebook message from her. She requested that I interview her eldest son, O’Shea McCarthy. Then, Heather added the fact that Shea had died in an automobile accident the week before.

***

Was Shea gifted?

“By the time he was 5, he was smarter me,” she said. “Shea was an intellectual, an academic, and he was well-read. He realized the power of his brilliant mind and it was insatiable. Shea loved knowledge with a passion.

“If he decided he liked dinosaurs, he learned all their names. If it was insects, Shea would memorize all their scientific names. He’d read every National Geographic on the subject. Shea was a Science Olympiad champion; his room was like a lab.”

From what high school did Shea graduate?

“Griffith.”

His art?

“Shea’s art was unique and had the quality of emotion that strikes you like a light to your heart, but you can’t put it into words. His art progressed as he grew, but always had that certain something that left a piece of him in it.”

Music?

“With music, Shea had his great love. He started out on the piano, then guitar and then jazz drums. He made his room into his own recording studio where he would mix his own music. Being a computer whiz, he could compose his own symphonies.”

You mentioned that Shea was well-read.

“He read many of my books and I have boxes and boxes of books. As a child, he read about King Arthur, then it was Tolkien. He absorbed all the fantasy and magic.

“As he got older, he turned to philosophy — German, Eastern, Marx, Darwin. ... Shea had insight that was beyond just understanding; he could dissect and connect those ideas most barely grasp.”

It sounds like Shea was a young man who was driven.

“When he set his mind on something, anything, he was unstoppable. He learned every detail about a topic and exhausted it until his next pursuit.”

Over the phone, you mentioned that Shea had been experimenting with and creating a new sound form the past year or so.

“Yes, his most recent pursuit was to find a theory or formula to create the perfect sound. He was reaching for an all-encompassing algorithm. I have no doubt he would have found that formula, if he hadn’t already.

“We are in the process of getting his music off the computer. I want to get copyrights for all of it before I let the general public enjoy it. I’m sure there is a population out there that will appreciate his new music — European musicians, perhaps.”

Shea was attending Purdue University at the time of his death.

“Yes, Earth and Atmospheric Science. At Purdue, they recognized his artistic abilities. Last spring, he was asked to design the hallway murals in the Earth and Atmospheric Science building.”

What do you have there?

“It’s something Shea’s younger brother Patrick recently wrote.”

May I read it?

“Yes.”

“Shea was one of a kind. He was constantly following his heart with everything he did as well as encouraging everyone else to do the same. Growing up, Shea always watched over me. He guided me on a path towards the better, and to this day is the person who taught me the most in life. He taught me how to be completely authentic. My brother inspired many, but followed nobody and I will love and praise him for the rest of my days.”

“Patrick is taking this very hard.”

Patrick’s a great kid. I remember when he ran cross country and track for Bishop Noll. Heather, you did a good job raising your sons.

“I want to start a scholarship fund in Shea’s name down in West Lafayette and I’d like to start one locally for the arts. We’re planning a fundraiser that will take place in the spring. All proceeds will go toward the scholarships.

“Jeff, I’m glad to have talked to you about all this. I just wanted people to know who Shea McCarthy was. I am so very blessed to have had him in my life.”

***

To bury one of your children. I can only imagine. Actually, I don’t want to imagine that. It’s something so heart wrenching, I put it out of my head.

In the short time Heather’s son was on this Earth he bestowed much joy upon his family and friends. Still, I can’t help but feel the world got shortchanged when it lost such brilliant, artistic and kind soul at such a young age.

Tomorrow (Dec. 12) would’ve been O’Shea Patrick McCarthy’s 25th birthday.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.