I had the privilege of seeing Loretta, Ruth and Anya while they visited Aunt Sophie here in Ohio in May. Loretta was so gracious to give me some of Mary Ann's ashes to sprinkle where I wished. I went to our beautiful local "Green Cathredal", Mill Creek Park, to find the perfect spot in the Fellows Riverside Garden. Upon my return there this Sunday, beautiful tea roses were blooming in "Mary Ann's spot". I had no idea of what kind of rose was planted there until I read the sign, Princess Diana roses. Princess roses for Mary Ann, the princess who appreciated the beauty of all things, large and small. It's like another gift from her. Lindi
Even though I was quite young when Mary Ann had her farm house, I still remember visits there - especially around Christmas. She would always decorate with a thousand little santas, and I distinctly remember the yummy smell of gingerbread men! As I got older, Mary Ann moved away from the Cape but sent me post cards and gifts from the places she had been. My favorite was a tiny sterling silver and turquoise ring that fit perfectly on my little finger. I took a wonderful trip with my mom to visit her in Flordia when I was in high school, and I remember how much work she had already put into it - but of course she said she wasn't nearly finished! These are just a few of the memories I have of Mary Ann, but it is how I remember her - caring, thoughtful, and constantly creating. She is missed!
Today one the one year anniversary of her passing, I reflected on the many gifts she has given me throughout the yrs, both the material and the spiritual. She built me up with her joy, laughter, unique sense of humor, intellectual curiosity and kindness. We exchanged many gifts throughout the years. She had such a precise insight into the things I liked. I appreciated artsy stuff just like her. So, she always chose gifts with attention to little details. Not just today, do I reflect on MA , but everyday, I 'm reminded of her as see the many gifts she gave me that are hanging on my walls, sitting on my dresser, etc. Her thoughtfulness was especially evident in the one particular gift she made for me. It's a little crown crafted out of hearts with ribbon streamers. Most touching was the the note with it that said "every castle needs a queen and every queen needs crown. " I cried at the beauty of those words expressed toward me. Only someone like her with an queenly attitude could express such a tender sentiment. I miss her.
I came into your life for a reason, We grew together as best friends. We loved, cried and had so much fun, We taught each other how to love. Now, I am an Angel Friend, My wings are beautiful and white. I come to comfort you, Covering you with my Angel Wings. Just remember the fun we had, Our memories will always be in your heart. My presence will always be known, Now that I am an Angel Friend. (adapted from a poem written by Deborah Cassick, 2009)
(As written to Loretta) Headstrong--sure of her capabilities, very talented--Free and independent. Afraid? No way--at age 5, she got on a tricycle and took off down the street which was a very steep hill. A tree stopped her! When she painted a picture, she would scrap and repaint, scrape and repaint, until she was satisfied. As a child she always wanted to be held and hugged close. I cannot forget one of the cutest remarks she made. I came into the living room and she was playing a record. I asked her the name of the song. She said "Marianna". I asked her "What kind of song was that?" "It's my Itrainian record". She new her father was Italian and her mother was Ukrainian--she put the combination as "Itrainian". She always had a lot of love to give to others. Her first grade teacher (someone I knew) told me that she thought Mary Ann was such a sweet child. Even though she seemed brave and pushy--deep down I always thought she had doubts about herself. Always on the go and doing things, no one would guess how sick she was.
I remember ice skating and playing tennis with Mary Ann before and duriong high school. I remember her at the city pool drawing a peacock and how perfect it looked to me. I remember helping her by filing on a wood sculpting that she was making for an art class at YSU in the late '60s. Starting in the '80s, I visited her several times at the Cape and once in Florida. During these visits it was easy to see that she was an inquisitive, industrious creative person filled with ideas. On one visit to the Cape, she told me about her efforts to get funding from the state that was supposed to be available to keep land in farming. She and Edmund wanted to buy a tractor for the farm. During one of our birthday phone calls while she was living in Texas, she talked about wanting to make art objects in the themes of the casinos in Las Vegas for sale in their gift shops. She was busy trying to find out who she needed to sell the idea to at the casinos. There didn't seem to be anything she wouldn't take on to make her ideas happen. Mary Ann was also a caring person spending more time listening to your story than telling hers. Wherever she went and whatever she did she took the time to get to know people. I remember going to a flea market with her and Loretta. While most of us might stop and buy a jar of pumpkin butter, Mary Ann left that booth knowing how to make the butter and most of the man's life story. During a phone call, at a time that she was rebounding from her surgery and several other ailments, she said withe exhuberance, "I'm almost perfect!" I know for sure that anyone who knew her wishes that had been true.
When I think of Mary Ann, I think of magic and whimsy. She had the artists' eye that could see the potential in any found object. Her sense of color and light always transformed her environments into warm and comfortable places to be. She paid attention to details, a bright blue bottle next to a cadmium red fabric, a shell placed just in the right spot, tiny Christmas lights cascading out of a wicker basket, little animals hidden among the plants. When she stayed with Loretta and David, her bedroom was next to the office where I worked, so I would start my day with a big hug from Mary Ann, under the watchful eye of little Anna of course. She would show me the latest projects that she was working on and talked of new ones yet to come. I was always amazed, that with all that she went through, she still managed to remain so giving and generous of heart. I will miss your bright spirit, Mary Ann. Anya
It’s hard for me to write about Mary Ann because there is so much to think about when I think about her. And I think about her all the time, every day, and usually when she presents herself, it’s a new remembrance for me. I’ve held back posting this because I wanted to include everything I remember about my good friend, my ‘sister’, but I’m still processing those memories, almost a year after she died. And I’m not sure the process will ever be over, so I am posting what I have written so far. Although our paths had crossed a few times at David and Loretta's when Mary Ann was married to Edmund and then to Eddie, I think our friendship began when Loretta and I visited her at the Beth Israel Hospital after her mastectomy. It took off after that awhile later when Loretta brought me and Anya to Nokomis for a visit. That visit left me in awe of Mary Ann. My first impression was of her bright, beautiful home, of the colors she had chosen and of the hard work it must have taken to create it. One of her projects, tediously turning a plywood floor into an ersatz Mexican tile floor with the help of masking tape and a skillful mixture of paints to achieve the right effect, was so perfectly real to me, that I had to touch it to believe it wasn’t tile. And the beautiful sea of color, blues and greens, that she had used to transform her bathroom, the walls, the floor - and the beginnings of what would become a beautiful yard, already beautiful in my mind, were awesome. Her home was a gallery, flooded with sunlight, filled with wooden carvings, large and small, carved by Eddie and painted by Mary Ann. The walls in the open dr/lr/kitchen area reminded me of the colors of Mexico, soft sunny yellows and tangerines, not finished perfectly yet, for it was a work in progress. One of Mary Ann's friends told her that her house was her palette. We girls had so much fun together that week, and did so much while we were there. Besides our daily shopping trips to consignment shops, Big Lots, Home Depot, etc., a trip to Sanibel Island and a shopping trip to Sarasota (which became an annual tradition), we worked in Mary Ann’s backyard, weeding, spreading mulch, laying down cloth to prepare a patio. We also somehow managed a few trips to the Nokomis beach. The next time I visited (with my husband Kim on our way to camping), Mary Ann’s backyard was covered with tiny white seashells, with a patio in the middle made with real Mexican tile. Flowers bloomed everywhere, borgenvelia, crown of thorns, hibiscus. Everything was so pretty. It was during that visit that Kim and I chose our favorite spots for sitting and reading. He preferred the backyard on the patio in the sun and my favorite place was sitting in the shade in the front of the house, which Mary Ann had transformed from a couple of trees into a paradise of palms, more flowering shrubs, ferns, and a path through the ground cover, down to the street. Although it was only a few feet long, it reminded me of a little path through the woods. After that visit, Kim and I started visiting Mary Ann every winter, staying a few weeks, sometimes leaving to do some camping and returning on our way back north. Before each visit I always looked forward to seeing what Mary Ann had accomplished, or changed, since our last visit. And she never disappointed me. One year when Kim and I arrived, one of her walls in the living room was painted a beautiful shade of red. Until her last days, she was still doing, thinking, making changes, making plans. She was never idle except when she was forced to rest while she got her pain under control. Even then she was still doing something, if only thinking of the next project. If she couldn’t sleep, she would get up and do some beading, or sort through papers. Sometimes on a nocturnal trip to the bathroom, I would discover her in the middle of a cooking project. One night she was starting to make one of her incredible, labor-intensive Italian wedding cakes. It was during those yearly visits that Mary Ann and I became close - when we became sisters. Loretta was already my sister and now I had two. I used to wish I could see things through Mary Ann’s eyes. She was an artist, and having an artist’s eye, she missed nothing, especially when we were driving in the car. Once I told her that sometimes when Kim and I were driving, I would try to pay attention as she did, and notice things, but I missed so much, and I would forget to actually see what I was looking at. She saw everything. And she had accumulated such a wealth of knowledge over the years that sometimes it seemed to me that she knew everything, also - at least about anything that might interest me. Mary Ann loved to take a picnic to the beach or to a park, and as sick as she was, for our last outing in March of last year, just a few months before she died, the picnic she put together was amazing. Besides the food, she had included cloth napkins, every condiment one could imagine, wine, wine glasses, table cloth, utensils for cooking, anything we could possible need. That was the way Mary Ann did everything. Whether she was shopping, painting, making a cake, renovating a bathroom, or gardening, she threw herself into the task and she took no shortcuts. I mention shopping, because shopping with Mary Ann was like driving with Mary Ann. She saw everything and missed nothing. Her attention span for shopping was unbelievable. She would take the time to go through an entire Big Lots, while my attention would start to flag a few minutes after arriving. She loved to shop and when I heard her quietly say “Roofie” while I was tucked away reading in a corner of her porch, I knew she was ready to roll after her hard morning of trying to get her pain under control. I think often about the day a couple of years ago after her back surgery when she wanted so much to go to the annual shark festival in Venice. The site of her surgery was infected and she was attached to a fairly heavy box which contained a suction pump. In spite of feeling lousy, she still wanted to go the festival. So we went, with me beside her carrying the box over my shoulder. We did a lot of walking that day and I think we stopped at every booth. It seemed that she wanted to squeeze everything into the time she had left, and we girls, Loretta, I, and Anya, almost got to Mexico with her, but her time ran out. Costa Rica was where she really wanted to go, though. She had bought several books about the country and had done the research years earlier. I wish Loretta and I had known about her dream sooner. We might have managed to give her that gift. For somebody who kept all of her friends along the way, in comparison our friendship was very brief, really just during the last years of her life. But we squeezed so much into those few years, that it felt as though we had been lifelong friends. Perhaps because of her progressive illness, our friendship was intensified, compacted. We talked a lot, and it was early in those conversations that I realized how smart Mary Ann was. How articulate. How kind. How perceptive. How strong. How opinionated, but forgiving. How generous, and not just generous in her thoughts. I loved her and I miss her. P.S. Mary Ann’s battle with cancer began in 1995 and I think her life would have been very different during the next 18 years if her big sister Loretta, with the support of David, hadn’t been behind her every step of the way. They were her safety net, and there were no strings attached. She kept her independence and did what she wanted to do with her home and her life while they quietly provided what she needed from time to time, a new roof, a new well, new heating, air, everything, including a monthly stipend so the quality of her life would be a little better. So she could shop.