I’ve been asked to eulogize my best friend Mary. But first I have to admit that nothing I can say can be a greater tribute than the crowd here today. You have filled the church and the sidewalks.
And look around at yourselves. Painters and carpenters, teachers, business owners, police officers, ministers, young kids and teenagers, parents and grandparents: all part of Mary’s extended community.
With boundless energy, good humor, caring and love, Mary gave to us all. In so many ways, she nourished this community, this village we call Capitol Hill.
We can all take great comfort and pride in what has happened since we lost Mary on Tuesday. So many of you have given in so many ways to ease the pain of our loss, to celebrate Mary, and to help us carry on.
Within hours, friends and family gathered at the Rushes, offering sympathy and support, and seizing every opportunity to lend a hand. Many hundreds gathered last night at Watkins Elementary School to celebrate Mary’s life. Wonderful testimonials were offered to an auditorium packed with a cross-section of our community.
Meanwhile, a lot of hard work went into preparing the church for this service – including replacing and painting the front doors.
All of this is tangible evidence of our heartfelt love for Mary and her family, and of the community Mary has nurtured with such affection and commitment.
What specifically was it about Mary that so endeared her to us? She made us feel comfortable and loved. She was oh so funny. She was devoted to us. She shared her beautiful family with us and as we all learned last night, she was a darned good tooth puller.
I have known Mary since high school but our friendship did not really blossom until I broke my leg in Freshman year of college. Mary and her roommate, Maureen, invited me to live with them until my cast came off because they had a bath tub in their dorm room and I just had a shower. Until that point, I had not experienced college life “Mary style” -- and what glee did she take in breaking me in to the finer points of college social life!
After spending a year toiling on the night shift in the Hostess Twinkie factory with Maureen to save for their post college trip to Europe, Mary found her way back to Washington where we began our adult lives sharing a succession of Capitol Hill rental houses, starting our careers, working evenings at Provisions, keeping our seats warmed at Tunnicliff’s, and having a whole lot of fun along the way.
After Mary met and married her prince charming, Andy, they settled into a cozy apartment above Antiques on the Hill. The many nights of dinner parties with lots of friends in that apartment, while baby Helen serenely slept on in her corner of the dining room will never be forgotten.
At every major event in my life, Mary has been there-- in my wedding, at my
nursing school graduation, and most notably at the birth of my daughter. As
I was pushing and panting, there was Mary passing out Girl Scout cookies to
the assemblage of doctors, nurses and medical school students in the room.
Along with her own children and her many students over the years, my daughter is the luckiest child ever to have had the incredible influence of Mary in her life.
Mary has gone, taking part of us away with her. I will miss her always, and know that you will too. But she leaves wonderful memories, a great family and a better community. When we leave here today, let’s resolve to build on Mary’s legacy. Let’s carry forward a renewed commitment to our families, friends and community and especially to public education – and let’s have fun.
Mary would not have it any other way. Thank you.