Just before heaven called, Mary was busy doing Mary things. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother, sister, volunteer and friend. Last October, she made a gentle exit from a miserable cancer, surrounded by loving family. Mary knew which challenges to accept; she also understood that modern medicine still had limitations.
Repeatedly, Mary shared that she had lived a good life, and if she had been 30 years younger she may have fought a different fight. Yet, she didn't give up completely and immediately. She wanted her grandsons to see her try – to know that time with them and their families was worth her efforts and struggles. Yet, her rare cancer began with a 5% survival rate and Mary knew when to maximize her remaining energy and time and cease her exhausting travels and treatments.
Mary raised two remarkable daughters, Andrea and Lisa. From her they learned hard work, creativity, a love of family and history, and how to develop their brilliant minds and warm kind hearts. They became wonderful mothers as well.
Love of family led Mary into the archives of genealogical research, from the dusty boxes of microfiche to the churches in Ireland. She even linked her Warnick ancestors to the Mayflower. Sure, the Mayflower Society is housed in Plymouth, Massachusetts (nearby to Marshfield), but Mary lived in the Portland, Oregon area. Below you'll see a brief glimpse at the rich, well-researched family genealogical tome she completed for her family, a project enriched by the interest and help of Alan and her daughter, Lisa.
When her siblings–Alan, Toni and Mike–delivered tributes at Mary's Celebration of Life last October, Alan, the youngest, illustrated how Mary watched out for her siblings as young children, just as a mother duck had watched for her ducklings in Mary's and Alan's presence earlier last year. Toni recalled Mary's gift of communication and generous sharing of written words, greetings and thoughtful remembrances. Mike relayed how Mary patiently, and with a kind authority, prodded him to write of his own travels. That shared experience was a blessing to both. Now, with a handful of holidays and celebrations behind us, I imagine many people have noticed the void in their mailboxes, as Mary had shared abundant poems, prayers, limericks and leprechauns with us. Her notes never seemed like obligatory greetings; they arrived packaged with her whimsy and love. Always her love.
Whatever Mary did she did well: her crafts, her work, her parenting, her research. Her presence. Her presence exuded a beautiful, caring, calm authority. Living across country, Alan and I have enjoyed keeping connected with Mary, Toni and Mike via phone calls. During her treatments-and the ensuing sacred time-we enjoyed several conversations about the true grit of life, its challenges and blessings. Mary often added wisdom and perspective.
The first time I ventured west to meet Alan's family, including his mother, I received the most beautiful note from Mary before my pending visit. It included the sentiments that I shouldn't worry as she once did before meeting her future in-laws, and that she welcomed my visit and relationship with Alan. Yes, Mary was a wonderful mother, grandmother, sister, volunteer and friend. Like my sister, brother, cousins, current two sisters-in-law, and my two brothers-in-law, she was a wonderful family member to me. Happy Birthday, Mary, and a heartfelt thank you. We hold a great deal of love and gratitude for you. We always will.