There’s a party going on in heaven today. I’m absolutely certain of it! Our dear friend, Mary, went to be with her Lord in the wee hours of this morning and our loss is definitely heaven’s gain.
Photo: Deborah Proctor
Life was not always kind to Mary, but she took it in stride and never lost her fiery spirit. She came to Canada from her beloved Ireland as a war bride, leaving behind a home equipped with all the conveniences of the day and finding herself on the lonely Canadian prairie without electricity or running water. She knew the heartbreak of losing a child and endured the break-up of her marriage, but oh how fiercely she loved and how vibrantly she laughed! At 98 years old, Mary still lived alone in her own house and took part in activities at the local seniors’ centre where she was an avid bridge player. She stopped coming to church regularly only when we all stopped speaking loud enough for her to hear us. Of course, it couldn’t possibly have been that her hearing was going!
Mary was tiny in body, but huge in character. For the past twenty years or more, she was known as my husband’s “other wife.” At the reception following the funeral of an elderly gentleman from our church, a lady from out of town met Mary and the two of them struck up a conversation. Later in the afternoon, before she left, the lady returned to Mary’s table to bid her good bye. At that point, Richard was sitting beside Mary and the woman, obviously without looking too closely, said “Oh, this must be your husband.” Mary immediately went off into peals of laughter and from that moment on, always referred to Richard, who was 33 years her junior, as her husband. She loved nothing better than to raise eyebrows by referring to him as such in public settings where she would then have to tell the story of how she became his “other wife.”
Richard was MC at Mary’s 98th birthday celebration just three weeks ago where she was as bright and vibrant as ever. Sadly, I wasn’t able to be there as I’d had a treatment earlier that week and was radioactive. I was looking forward to popping over and having tea with her as soon as I felt well enough (that’s a story for another day) but now I’ll have to wait until we meet again on the streets of gold.
Mary was especially close to our youngest son, Nate. During his teenage years, she hired him to do her yard work. When he finished, she’d always have a cold pop waiting for him and they would sit and visit. Since he’s been grown and gone from home, whenever Mary saw me, she’d ask how “her boy” was doing and when he was coming home again. When he did, even if if it was only for the day, he’d almost always drop in to see her.
Three years ago, when Richard and I were performing in a community theatre production, Nate came home to attend one of our dinner theatre performances and took Mary as his date! Like any good date would, he took flowers when he went to pick her up and when I stopped by their table after the performance, she was glowing!
Mary was always one to speak her mind and you never knew for sure what she might say! The first time Nate brought Colleen home, he took her over to meet Mary who, after spending a few minutes getting to know his girl, expressed her approval by telling him that she was very happy that he hadn’t brought home a trollop! That’s a Maryism that won’t soon be forgotten! I’m sure it will long be part of our family lore.
While chatting with my daughter this afternoon, I asked her how I could possibly put our Mary into words and she gave me a great illustration. I’m not a Dr. Who fan like she is, but according to Melaina, Mary was like the TARDIS, Dr. Who’s time machine/spaceship, “small on the outside, but endless on the inside.” Yes, our lives will definitely be a little less colourful without Mary in them, but oh how blessed we are to have known her!