|Mary, when she was in her early twenties.|
She left way before her time. I feel like Mary had just started on the second half of her life. She got a new lease of life after she retired. She got fit and traveled with her brother Bob to the Cotswolds and down to Devon for some rambling in the hills and pastures and towns. (She never lost her sense of childlike joy and silliness; she and Bob crawled up one scary cliff path on hands and knees, cursing their friend Lew for leading them there - and then giggled for days about it.) She was the most besotted grandmother you've ever seen: giddy at the pleasure of helping look after her four young grandchildren, and now she had the time to do just that.
|Thanksgiving: Mary's daughter Janelle with Lila and Grady|
Mary was born and raised in Kansas and lived there most of her life. She remained very close to her extended family who mostly lived there too. She brought up her two children, Janelle and Brent, by herself. Towards the end of her working life, she took on two jobs, yet never complained and always focused on how lucky she was.
Mary's father, Harley, was a dentist and her mother, Elizabeth, incredibly sadly, died of complications from childbirth seven weeks after Mary was born. Mary had two older brothers, Bill and Bob. Her father eventually re-married a widow, Nina, who had a daughter named Rowena.
|Baby Mary with her two brothers. Her mother died before this photo was taken.|
|Mary on her birthday with her father Harley and her two brothers, Bill and Bob|
|Mary (far left) with her brothers, Bill and Bob, and Nina and then sister-in-law Marlene.|
One day, when Mary was nine years old, her father, Harley, died suddenly of a heart attack. Their stepmother, Nina, was left to care for all four children. Seeking work to pay the bills, Nina entered the town elections and won the job of Court Clerk for Cherokee County, Kansas. After that Nina never lost an election. But still, it was a pretty hard life.
Mary grew up incredibly pretty with smiley eyes and a head of auburn curls. She became the family historian and was a wonderful source of stories. She knew about all the generations including one grandmother who was likely Cherokee. She kept everyone connected with her stories and anecdotes and the family tree in her head.
When our Harley was born nearly 18 years ago in London, Mary collected photos, including some of the ones I've posted today, and sent us a wonderful photo book. She always told the family stories with a ready laugh or a smile. I remember thinking that her fine smile looked drawn by a quill pen with a curly flourish at the corners.
Ever unassuming and always cheerful, Mary did not want to talk about her illness, even at the end. She asked that there would be no service. She did agree to a celebration of life which will be in Kansas in June.
|Mary and her brother Bob at our place for Thanksgiving three years ago|
|Mary, her daughter Janelle and nephew Kevin|
|Grandma Patty, Tallulah and Aunt Mary|
|Cheers! Patty, Bob, Kevin, Mary and Mac|
When you were with us, you made each moment special because you were such a special person. You were a born historian who felt deeply for her family and you knew the magical timelessness of that moment better than any of us.
Mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, friend. Mary.