My mother got the call from California about 10PM last night. Her cousin and best friend had passed away at the age of 78.
Mary, Sara and I - 2007
In the last few years, Mary served as the last ‘voice of reason’ for my mother as she as dealt with repeated medical setbacks since her cancer surgery. Losing that person she trusted enough to listen to on such matters is going to be tough on all of us as I am certain she is the main person that pulled her back from the brink of giving up so many times. Just in the last few weeks, she convinced my mother to go in for more tests and take more medication that she is certainly sick of by now.
I had always called her Aunt Mary. We saw her from time to time. Mostly, she would travel out this way but we went to San Diego for two weeks in 1981 and I think the thing that always stuck out the most in my mind was how different her marriage to the man I called Uncle Jim was from the marriages I had been around. I’ve seen few that compare to what they had. I always wondered why my parents stayed together and why they would have endured what they did when there were people out there who were actually happy. Maybe that’s too honest for the blog but it is what is on my mind.
Mary’s husband, Jim, was a manager at Pier One Imports for years back when they were cool and sold all sorts of knick-knacks and fortune cookies. When they visited in 1988, Jim and I went to a local Pier One to look around and I never forgot how friendly he was to everyone there. He made people feel good because he was the real deal. He died not long after that trip, in 1989, of the cancer he had fought for several years.
Mary’s husband, Jim, at our house - 1988
I flipped through old pictures tonight and thought about that time in San Diego – 30 years ago this summer. I remember how odd it was that they would eat supper at 8 or 9 PM and how they would always have classical music records playing while they ate. It was a completely different kind of life.
Mary came back to visit several more times. Once she drove all over the country with just her dog and stopped by. I was impressed that someone would travel alone so far. It took me a long time to be comfortable just eating alone when I traveled for work. I’m not sure I would want to do it by choice.
Mary, at our house in 1988, working on our state of the art (at the time!) Amstrad computer
Somewhere, Jim has turned on that classical music again and it is just about supper time. There is a lot of catching up to do.