Today is my 38th wedding anniversary. Thirty-eight years ago, most people said it wouldn't last. Too volatile they said, too much discussion and not enough outward expressions of affection. Well, it has worked for us despite all of the naysayers and I attribute it to just that: we discuss, we talk, yes we even argue but we make up and we tell each other everything. We are truthful and open in our relationships and that carries over into our relationships with others. Some people can't take the truth. They just can't.
But today, while spending a bit of time alone by myself I had time to reflect upon my relationship with Mary and how I met her so many years ago. And you know...when I think about an exact moment and when we first became friends, I cannot pinpoint it. It is if she just "appeared". And that's the way that I like to think of her leaving this dimension too. She just slipped away, quietly, without a lot of fanfare. Private. Proud. Graceful.
Mary was with me the night that I first met Bill. Well, actually, I knew of him in high school. He sat in one of my classes and when I would glance over in his direction he would turn ten shades of red and look away. I was not very out-going in those days. In fact, I always considered myself very shy. Maybe it was just a lack of confidence or self-esteem. Those two attributes have seemed to haunt me my entire life. But in my early twenties, Mary and I used to spend quite a lot of time together going dancing and just hanging out. Most of my other friends were attached in those days and Mary and I used to like to do the same kinds of things.
Mary was an incredible dancer with such rhythm. And she had the most beautiful dark curly hair and very white, pale skin. She always attracted young men that seemed to be worldly. We would be sitting at a table, having a drink, and someone dark and handsome would come over and ask her to dance. I sat alone at the table many nights while she was twirling around on the dance floor. She loved to laugh and have a good time. And so it was that we would spend weekend evenings together. She was with me when I first met my boyfriend Michael. And later, she was with me when I first met Bill.
I was thinking back to all the times that we spent in high school together. I spent many nights at Mary's home, tucked away under piles of quilts in her big brass bed. I always felt safe at her house; her parents right across the hall. It was always a home filled with love and support. I came from a broken home and so staying at Mary's was always a pleasant experience. There were never any arguments or loud voices at Mary's home. It was a safe haven. It always felt cozy and warm.
Mary's Mom was always inquisitive. She would always want to know what we were doing in school, who we were dating, what our future plans were. She was always curious and interested. And it felt good to be listened to and to know that she was genuinely interested and concerned. Mary was one of the first people I knew to go to Europe and travel. She came back and told us all about it. She served us cheese from a slicer "the way they served cheese in Europe". I remember her slicing off a thin piece and throwing it at me. The biggest laugh came from her and she said: "That's the way they do it in Europe." I believed her. I've never been to Europe myself yet so I cannot corroborate that story or deny it. I just took it for granted. Mary would never lie to me.
Mary was also the first person I knew to have a plan for when she graduated from high school. She was going to go to college, she was going to get her degree in library science, and she was going to work in a library. And she did exactly that. She worked for over 30 years at the College of Alameda in the library there. She was surrounded by intelligent people who were curious about learning, who were artistic and talented themselves. She took me to arts and crafts shows that some of the teachers held around the holidays. She took clay classes. I still have a whistle hanging on my wall that she made me and gifted to me over 30 years ago, hand-painted with cactus plants and strung with an orange ribbon to this day.
Mary had parents who were fun to be around too. Her father collected stamps and to this day I think that I collect stamps, little works of art, because of the interest he sparked in me when I would be over at her house and curious about his collection. He was always willing to sit down and tell me anything I wanted to know about his collection...where they came from, where he purchased them, what the stamp shows were like and how he learned about them and their value. You could tell that Mary came by her intelligence and curiosity naturally. You only needed to spend an evening with her family to see that family life was all-encompassing and important to them. And I always felt comfortable with her family.
I will miss Mary. Her mother and father made their transitions a few years ago so she will join them now. I'm sure there will be a family gathering when she arrives the like of none that we have seen before. She might even be serving cheese "just like they do in Europe". That would be fun to see, wouldn't it? Most of all, I will miss Mary's curiosity and lust for life. Her ability to remain calm in most situations (although when she got flustered or anxious, it was fun to watch her jump around). Maybe it was that dancing ability. Maybe it was her friendly smile and her willingness to help someone. Definitely she was a unique and wonderful person. And she made a mean batch of fudge too! I still have her Mom's fudge recipe, lovingly typed out on a 3 X 5 card and titled "Aunt Marion's Fudge". Maybe those years of filing in the card files, pre-computers, prompted her to type (yes, on a typewriter!) the recipe. She had an eye for details. She hand-sewed what seemed like millions of beads on to her sister's wedding dress. What a beautiful dress it was too!
So, Mary...if you're there reading this, please know that you meant the world to me. You were loved, appreciated, and thought of so much. I only wish that I would have been granted the opportunity to visit you while you were in the hospital. I tried, believe me, I tried. I hope you know all of these things that come from my heart to yours. You were a unique friend, without whom I might not have met Bill and married him 38 years ago had it not been for you going with me that one fateful work night. You always stood by me in those days. And for that, and so much more, I thank you.
- ► 2014 (11)
- ► 2013 (12)
- ► 2012 (109)
- ▼ December (11)
- ► 2010 (231)