Planning a life celebration book

I received this eulogy from Jerry who read my article on how to write a eulogy. Jerry followed the steps and wrote me an email stating, "I took your advice and what resulted (and the congratulations I received afterwards confirmed) was a very effective and engaging eulogy." I hope you will find the eulogy Jerry wrote for his co-worker Mary helpful.

Someday if all my prayers are answered
I'll hear a footstep on the stair
With anxious heart
I'll hurry to the door
And maybe you'll
Be there
I sat down with Ed the other day and he had told me of a recent visit from family just after Mary had passed away. They had brought with them photos of Mary and Ed when they were much younger. Mary looked so young and attractive in these pictures – and presumably Ed didn’t -- that their relatives asked him how he did it? He asked them to elaborate and they commented that Mary was such an attractive young woman and though she and Ed were so well-matched, he was so scrawny-looking. Ed then said with pride how they were correct, that Mary was such a gem compared to him being such a rough ashlar, but she stuck with him …and, he added, “especially after our early courting days.”

What do you mean? I asked.

Well; Ed recounted to me the story of the motorbike ride he took Mary on on their second date. Ed, while wanting to show off his motorbike prowess, had tipped the bike on a tight corner in the middle of a busy Vancouver street with Mary on the back. But Mary was not deterred---a little bruised maybe -- but willing to give him another chance. Although the bike had to go.

Ed told me of another date – not long after that. Besides a motorbike, Ed also owned an old 25’ fishing boat. Young Ed thought that it would be so much more impressive than the motorbike date if he was to take her on a trip in his boat. Besides, it would give him the opportunity to show off his Captaincy prowess.

Just sit right back & you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.

The trip from Vancouver to Nanaimo across the Georgia Strait apparently went well and they had a lovely time on Vancouver Island. The return trip, however; was not such a happy voyage.

The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave & sure.
Five passengers set sail that day for a three hour tour. A three hour tour.

A storm at sea blew-up with waves as high as a house that lapped at the little vessel. It was a rough trip back and Mary was not impressed; but they eventually made it back to shore safe and sound.

I wasn’t there, but the way Ed described it to me, it sounded just like the trip from the Gilligan’s Island TV show … a three-hour tour. I can’t help but ask myself; if they had beached Ed’s boat on a desert island, which one of them would have become the Captain and which one Gilligan?

None the less, Mary didn’t give up on Ed, she gave him another chance. Though the boat had to go.

Their younger days were not all danger and bruises, however. They often amused themselves with low-budget dates, such as gate crashing the cruise ships moored in Vancouver’s harbor. Ed told me in those days, security not being quite as stringent as today; they would walk up the gangplanks looking all the part of a couple of passengers and then head for the bar for the evening.

They often spent time visiting vessels at the Vancouver docks. I remember Ed telling me, years ago, of when they took the opportunity to do a tour of a US Navy submarine. The only thing that they weren’t prepared for was the amount of attention that the sailors were willing to give Mary. It got to the point that one of the officers had to beat the sailors back while Mary, in a short-skirt -- as was the fashion then -- went up the submarine’s ladders.

Now; nobody would have blamed Mary, or anyone of you ladies perhaps, for giving up on that scrawny fella’ – but Mary didn’t. She didn’t and it speaks to her very essence. In everything Mary took on, anything she made a commitment to, she would throw herself entirely into it. She would take the bull by the horns and see it through.

I think many of Mary’s co-workers can testify to her determination.
Mary joined the Drumheller Town Hall staff in 2000. Anybody coming into the Town Hall basement’s frenetic atmosphere would have to be crazy to stay. Quite literally; working with Derek and me would turn anybody crazy. But Mary jumped in feet-first, never skipped a beat and joined in. With her background in computers and her well-grounded attitude she became an essential, reliable and loved member of staff.

Mary was the necessary sanity, the den mother – if you will -- in some crazy college frat house. She was a rock. We three had great times together at Town Hall – sadly, those times are never to be repeated – I still miss them and we will miss Mary.

I recall that so often she would say to me “Mind if I play mother orangutan?” I didn’t know what that meant the first time Mary said it to me. But it shows how often the tags must hang out the top of my shirts or sweaters; as she frequently found herself pushing tags back in, and I would then continue on my merry way. There was something about Mary.

Yes, she looked after Derek and me, and made sure that the team was on-course and …dressed nicely…though I’m not sure if she ever had a chance of helping Derek … what with his Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals.

Over time Derek and I moved away and Mary took on more and more of the responsibilities that were left to just her. She soldiered on; not only due to her natural perseverance with everything that she did, but because, as she had told Ed countless times, working at the Town was her dream job.

She considered her position in Town Hall as her “niche” in life. She loved the responsibility it gave her, the opportunity to learn and self-improve – either through experience or the courses that she was able to take to do her job better – and she loved the people that she worked with.

In their days as young parents their sons, Ken and Ron, were active in the Cubs and Scouts. Ed and Mary involved themselves as volunteers in the movement. Mary also volunteered for other groups over the years. She was an active volunteer for the Calgary Transit Union prior to Ed retiring and them moving to Drumheller. She frequently assisted Ed in his involvement in Freemasons as well. At events that the Mason’s would put on, you would often find Mary in the background somewhere taking on many tasks and roles. She would busy herself with what was “needed” to be done and do it quietly, unassumingly and often unnoticed – but always extremely well and faultlessly. She assisted Ed in duties as a Master and later with his duties as Secretary of the Lodge. Our fraternity will miss her dearly.

Mary, as many at Town Hall recall, would look especially forward to Fridays. Not because she wanted out of work – but Fridays were the days when the “apples of her eye” -- her grandchildren -- would come into Town from Calgary. Ed would drive in to the City and pick the children up from Ken and Dianna’s. I remember how Taryn, Krysten and Ryan would rush down the stairs at Town Hall – Ed in tow -- and all of them were so excited and happy to be with each other. Mary then knew that her weekend was going to be full of love, laughter and happiness.
Mary’s smile when she spoke of her children, her grandchildren and other relatives showed that she had such great pride in them all. She once recounted to me of a favourite Uncle she had as a child. She would say how she and her cousins were so excited when their uncle would visit. She beamed as she remembered how they would jump up and down with glee whenever they saw their Uncle “Happy”. They called him this as he was such a cheerful character. Uncle Happy or Uncle Tommy, as it turned out, was quite a famous Albertan. He was Thomas Payne Fox, better known as Tommy Fox. Tommy was a leader in Canadian bush plane operations and he was so renowned for his early days as a bush pilot, and for his other aviation achievements, that he is a member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. I could see in Mary’s smile, as she use to tell stories his visits, the little girl that she once was.

Mary’s job with the Town of Drumheller involved a great deal of creativity; and her creativity didn’t stop at work. She enjoyed crocheting and other crafts. Mary also enjoyed music a great deal, Celtic music and Jazz -- particularly performed by Dianna Krall whose song “Maybe You'll Be There” I quoted at the beginning. Later on, Mary returned to a hobby she had in her youth – bird watching – as she often enjoyed many hours at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary near Ladner, B.C. when she was young.

Mary enjoyed camping – well apparently she wasn’t overly keen at first - - but when Ken and Ron were young she loved those family camp-outs. And, as I had mentioned, when the boys joined the Cubs and Scouts movement she, along with Ed, would volunteer on their camping trips too. Later on, when Taryn, Krysten and Ryan came along, Mary once again found such great joy in camping. Mary also loved hot springs. And the last great outdoor adventure for Mary involved all of those things she held so dear. Her husband Ed, her grandchildren and a camping trip to visit a series of six hot springs in B.C.

Mary’s dedication and perseverance shone through in everything she did. Her commitment to her work and to her friends as well as the volunteering she involved herself in will be greatly missed. Mary’s love and devotion to her family will always be dearly remembered. Her examples of love, caring and determination lives as an inspiration to all of us.

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