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Mary

by on December 9, 2017

                                                                        Mary

                                                           by Marco M. Pardi

                                                                  mpardi.com

“There is a unity of the body with the environment, as well as a unity of the body and soul into one person.” Alfred North Whitehead. (1861-1947)

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All comments are well appreciated and will receive a response.

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Readers of this site who peruse the comments will recognize the name Mary.  She has been a consistent, thoughtful and very generous commentator.  Even while traveling she made the effort to assure me she was reading my words and thinking them through.  Her comments almost always contributed to and enhanced what I had written, on any subject. In personal communication she carried much further, providing her thoughts and opinions in ways which were always supportive even if, at times, advising me of better ways of thinking than I had chosen for myself.

An Anthropology student of mine in the early 1970’s, Mary was one of several thousand such students who passed through my classes in my ten years at a particular college.  Some I remember, most I don’t.

Since those years I have traveled much of the world, so deeply involved in other careers that it was not long before I began to occasionally recall those teaching years as, “Oh. Yeah” memories; factual but not very meaningful.  And communication, even had I sought it, with anyone from those years would have been near impossible and, in most circumstances, impermissible.

So it was with surprise, and some trepidation, that I opened an email some years ago to discover that I had been discovered. Mary had found me. On the Internet.  There was nothing challenging in the content, only a self identification and questions only I could answer. And by some fortune I did choose to answer.

In the years since we exchanged countless emails and added additional email correspondents into a fairly steady group.  Mary became a highly sought after thinker in at least a couple of these groups. We very much enjoyed her reports of her constant travels, her impressions of people and places, her joys and travails with her dogs. I often urged her to start writing a blog.

But in the background was a career history that few people knew.  Mary did not pursue Anthropology. However, she took some principles from it and applied them to degrees and a career in Social Work.  Her work immersed her in many of the human tragedies that lead so many social workers to leave the field and not look back.  She not only stayed with it, she married a psychologist, raised a family, and helped found a clinic. Through several geographic moves she also acquired and raised a variety of dogs, most of whom could be described as Special Needs dogs.

But her inherent nurturing of non-humans and humans alike found many expressions and, at times, some quandaries.  In one set of email exchanges she sent me pictures of a mountain lion lounging on her Colorado property waiting for her dogs to come outside.  Concerned for the dogs, but also for the lion, she asked how to permanently scare it away without hurting it. I told her that her only safe option was a Taurus Judge .410 shotgun revolver and I instructed her in how to load the cylinder in a graduated non-lethal to lethal way.  As far as I know she did so and solved the problem. But then a rat took up residence inside a storeroom in her house.  She set up a game camera and sent videos of the rat doing ratty things in the storeroom.  Again, how to evict the rat harmlessly?  I told her once a rat has found a nice place they will not give it up.  She captured the rat a couple of times in a humane live trap and transported it miles from her home before releasing it.  A few night later it was back. To be sure it was the same rat she again trapped it and painted its tail before driving miles to release it.  A few days later, a painted rat in the storeroom.  I’m not sure how or if she resolved the rat problem but it was starting to look like our negotiations with North Korea.

Mary was raised a conservative Catholic. As such she had an appreciation for many of the manifestations of cognitive dissonance among people whose faith puts them in one world while they live in another. She appreciated the aphorism that: Man invented God, made this God omnipresent, then failed to see God all around and within themselves.  Below is a typical email from Mary which I think captures her personhood quite well:

“I’ve been so busy and traveling I have forgotten what I have told you about.  I know I have been derelict contributing to the email group. I understand if my membership is revoked.  I think I told you both in May we had a 4ft snow storm.  I saw something in the snow and checked it out.  It was a hummingbird, who I was pretty sure was dead.  Let me switch gears here a moment. I was just in Florida with my cousin who was talking about how she feels we haven’t scratched the surface in seeing animals in nature.  She said, like the videos we all most likely have seen now where they have glasses for people who are colored blind and see colors for the first time.  They cry and ask how people who can see real colors can get anything done and just not stare at the colors all day. She thinks some day we will see animals like that.  So, back to the hummingbird.  I held it in my hands warming it up and sure enough it came back to life.  When it seemed fully resurrected I went outside and opened my hand.  It looked me right in the eye and then flew off.  I sit on my deck around sunset daily.  Every day, since the humming bird left, when I’m sitting on the deck he comes and flies right at my eyes and hovers a bit then takes off.  I’ve been gone for about a week.  When I got home yesterday I sat on the deck and unbelievably, I’m sure it is the same hummingbird, came and sat on my thigh.  It had to have sat there for almost 5 minutes.  I’m sure I’m colored blind to what happens in nature but now and again, I’m not.” 

Mary’s sudden death is still a great shock – and this comes from a person very familiar with death.  It is hard even to write this as I will post it and part of me will look daily for her comments.  No matter where she was or what she was doing she always took time to post some comments.  When I started teaching college classes all those decades ago I quickly realized the difference between talking to someone and talking with someone. Many people read these posts, very few bother themselves to talk with me. Mary always did.  To the extent that we are in some way the people with whom we interact I feel an empty space inside. I have felt that before, and long ago realized one does not seek out a “replacement part” to fill that space. One remembers that person and carries forward the lessons and benefits of having known them, thus making ongoing relationships with others that much more fulfilling and rewarding for all.

Thank you, Mary.

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22 Comments
  1. P L WEDDING permalink

    A beautiful tribute to dear Mary, Marco. The hummingbird experience described her best – a very special connection with beings who touched her.

  2. Thank you, Pam. Yes, I think the hummingbird episode will live for a long time. She was an amazing person.

  3. Michael E. Stamm permalink

    A fitting memorial, a lovely set of memories. I truly wish I had somehow taken the time to know her better.

    • Thank you, Mike. Her thoughts will remain among the pages on this site as long as I keep it open. But, yes, it is regrettable that we will have no more.

  4. Marco, what a lovely and fitting tribute. Thank you for writing this.

    It is incredible to me that I was able to develop a bond with someone I had never met in person, and Mary will really be missed. Over the past five years she was always readily available for all sorts of guidance when I sought her out. She had an incredible mind and personality.

    She and I dreamed of having a Rescue Ranch, a place for a menagerie of non-human aninals in need. I am writing this paragraph with tears flowing. I felt discussing these ideas and sharing stories and videos of cute animals really helped me through some difficult times.

    What a special woman, and I am a better human for having known her.

    • Thank you, Dana. I fully endorse your feelings for Mary and count myself among the many who have far better lives for her participation in them.

  5. I am so sad to read this, but glad that I could read it at all. I am not very much on my computer these days, so it is only from time to time that I check. I would not have wanted to have missed this.
    I also never knew her, but read so many of her comments to your posts, Marco, that I feel like i knew her a little. I always thought she was awesome .
    For what it is worth, I shall pray for her , but am sure she will know her way to where she is supposed to be without any need of help at all.
    Thank you Marco, for such beautiful tribute to her. I am sure she is watching with a huge smile on her face.
    Now, be well, my friend! and I am referring to you Marco ! these things do hit us hard at times .
    Lots of Love to the both of you

    • Thank you so much, FOAL. I am so glad you had the opportunity to “know” her, even in a small way.

  6. What a touching tribute; your genuine affection for Mary shines through in every word. Like others, I only knew her through the words she shared here and with the email group, and yet I am saddened by the passing of such a shining light in our ever darkening world. Certainly, I will never again see a hummingbird without thinking of her, and knowing that some part of her is with us still.

    • Thank you, Rose. Her words are with us in so many ways, and the song of Nature sings her name.

  7. Ira Ehrlich permalink

    Thanks for the kind memory of my beloved Mary.

  8. Jane Edwards permalink

    Missing Jo.

    • Thank you for writing, Jane. I cannot presume to know you, but I feel we are part of a large community made better by Mary Jo having been with us. Marco

    • Jane Edwards permalink

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Mary Jo’s note. I’m her Florida cousin. It’s an example of her attention to the moment and whomever she engaged with that she remembered our conversation. I’m grateful that you reminded me.

      • Thank you, Jane. Her commentary on this site was often more helpful than my articles, and was the first thing people looked for. Several people miss her. Marco

  9. Anne Kremer permalink

    I am not at all surprised to hear of Mary’s membership and regard in your group. I had the honor of working with Mary shortly after her marriage to Ira and found her exceptionally understanding and compassionate. We stayed friends ever after and like everyone else I miss Mary horribly.

    • Thank you, Anne. No one, excepting myself, in our group physically met Mary so, in a way, we all gathered to her spirit. She was, and continues to be through her thoughts preserved on these posts, a valued guide and companion. Marco

  10. jkent33 permalink

    Your supreme words I have never seen as what you chose to say about the loss of your friend Mary. And the stories to describe who she was measured by her love for animals. I could only hope to have something similar written about my passing with your heart filled feelings. Your statement regarding speaking to someone and speaking with someone rings so true with me. As the years pass, I, like many take inventory of those that influenced my life and I equally influenced theirs. A large dichotomy appears revealing but a few pass muster to remain on the list. Like the hummingbird, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to reach into the trust of people; just simply make an effort and watch the rewards file in like like they know they belong there. As the lowly rat finds their way back to their adopted home, we migrate to those with whom we feel safe. I only briefly exchanged emails with Mary but felt an immediate attraction that drew me closer. Even after reading her comments she expressed a certain comforting warmth. Regrettably, her absence will be evident on the distribution list that always captured my attention as someone I briefly met yet felt we were friends. That defines the rewards from people we respect and admire. Thank you for making me a part of the circle where she resided.

  11. Austin Stewart permalink

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of such a compassionate and accomplished individual.

    I’ve been checking in on your blog regularly for about a year now, but have been too shy to comment.

    I was a student of yours at GPC, and was impacted greatly by how you conduct yourself, as well as by the content of your courses. Particularly the perspectives course on death and dying.

    I’ve not frequently read the comments, but I had noticed a post or two from Mary. Now I’m realizing that as much of a gem as I’ve found this blog to be, there lies an even deeper value that I’ve left unnoticed.

    You were my introduction to anthropology, and at the end of the perspectives course you encouraged me to pursue an MSW after considering the interests I had expressed to you. I’ve had some speedbumps along the way, but that is the path I’m still on.

    Your description of Mary and her impact leaves me humbled. She seems to have exemplified many qualities that I aspire toward.

    I’m eager to search through the comment sections to develop my own sense of Mary, as I’m sure there is much love and wisdom to be imparted. I’m imagine there are many others sharing their thoughts on here who I’d have benefited from participating with as well. Needless to say I’ll be digging a little deeper from now on.

    Regards,

    Austin Stewart

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments, Austin. I am traveling now, but will spend much time thinking of your progress. Personally, I am so glad we are in touch again. I remember your articulate presentation of your ideas and aspirations and very much hope we can discuss them further. Please do stay in touch. Marco

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