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Monday, Oct 6 2008 - mary's passing

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i know it's been awhile since you heard from me.

marianne and cathy's mom passed away on september 28, 2008. it was a short, heart wrenching battle with liver cancer. the prognosis had never been good, but it was still a shock to us all. mary traveled with us, enjoyed girls' nights at the theatre or movies and spent hours with us just sipping wine and shooting the breeze. she was ever present in our lifes and like a mom to me. the girls gave me the privilege to eulogize mary. i share the words i wrote in her honor.

To Honor Mary

Many of my fondest memories of Mary Berry involve a kitchen table, a bowl of chips and a glass of wine. First there was Mary’s kitchen in Bethpage. I have known Mary for all of my adult life, becoming a lifelong friend first to Marianne and then Cathy when I was just 21 and dealing with a lot of difficulty in my life. The Berry house became my home away from home; a place where I felt loved and a welcome part of wonderful family. And that kitchen and table, before and after a renovation or two, became the scene of many days and nights filled with more laughter than you can possibly imagine. A standout is the night after we went shopping for the bridesmaid dresses for Marianne and Michael’s wedding. I can still picture Mrs. Berry’s face reacting to something I did (and that will go unmentioned) which set-off a chain reaction of hilarity for everyone sitting at that table. Some of you here tonight were there and know exactly what I am talking about.

Then, there are the hundreds of Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings around that wonderful table. And as the family expanded with husbands and grandchildren we still managed to fit around that little table. More importantly, we still found dozens of reasons to laugh, perhaps Mary laughing most of all. Her laughter was contagious; her genuine smile, inviting.

I even played mah jongg with Mrs. Berry and her friends for a year or two. Image a twentysomething looking forward to an evening with her friends’ mom and her own friends usually weren’t even there? Somewhere between a second mom and a dear friend, she was so easy to be with and even easier to love. We had so much fun.

In recent years often the party moved to Marianne’s kitchen table, Cathy’s dining room and sometimes even the island in my kitchen. Whether it was an extended family gathering, a birthday celebration or a simple “come on over for dinner” we always found ourselves gathered at the table schmoozing for hours, barely thinking about the time or going home. No matter how late it got, Bill might be sleeping on the couch, but Mary was still raring to go. Gosh, I loved her for that.

Mary was definitely one of the girls. She loved shopping, movie nights, the theatre and finally our trips to Calabash, North Carolina. Cathy, Marianne, Elisabeth, Christine, Mary and I could cram more vacation in a week than anybody else could. We even managed an overnight excursion to Charleston, South Carolina on our first trip; a place Mary always wanted to visit. It’s a beautiful city and I think we all have beautiful memories too. I also think there’s a diner at Poogan’s Porch Restaurant who will never forget the lady he tried to help down the steps. That lady was Mary and again for reasons that will go unmentioned she kept us all in full bodied belly laughs the entire walk back to our hotel. I don’t think I ever laughed as hard as I did that night and all because of Mary.

Mary loved life. She loved all her girls and of course she loved her boys too. She risked many a sunburn for one of Mike’s baseball games or Connor’s Lacrosse games. And of course there is Bill. She took care of him until it was time for him to take care of her. And he did, with all his heart and soul.

Mary Berry never broke the rules. Whether it was fear or just her way, she followed direction to the tee and rarely took chances. But she showed us all what bravery and strength she really had on that terrible day in the doctor’s office, when the news was grim and her daughters’ tears were barely contained. As the doctor put his hand on her shoulder in a gesture of silent compassion and inevitability, she simply said “I’m a good soldier.”

And a good soldier she was; courageously accepting her fate while battling as hard as she could. But eventually it was time to pass the baton to her daughters. She knew how difficult it was for them to see their mom deteriorate and weaken so quickly. At times it was just so unbelievable and she hated all they had to do to take care of her; so one evening just a few short weeks ago, she told Marianne “You and Cathy are my good soldiers now.” It is my heartfelt belief that those words were meant not only as an acknowledgement and thank you for everything the girls were doing for her but to give them her strength and courage to go on once she was gone. That will never be easy, but they will. We all will.

Yes, there was something about Mary; something that we all loved fiercely and will miss dearly; something that we will keep in our hearts and cherish in our memories all the rest of our days.

I would like to close with a poem, simply called “The Good Soldier”

the good soldier

the good soldier
held her head high
the good soldier
never asked why
the good soldier
walked among the ruins
the good soldier
graced the flowers blooms

the good soldier
didn't ask to take command
the good soldier
gave solace with loving hands
the good soldier
comforted and calmed our fears
the good soldier
gently wiped away our tears

the good soldier
knew her time had come
the good soldier
smiled at the setting sun
the good soldier
so delicate as a flower
the good soldier
so brave in her final hour

the good soldier
softly leaves us now
the good soldier
go on? we wonder how
I think the good soldier
would raise her glass and say
"whisper your goodbyes
and gently walk away.
live for me and laugh for me
and smile each and everyday
I love you all, please never forget
in your hearts I will always stay.

In loving memory of mary berry
september 28, 2008

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Comments

11 comments so far.

11.

5 years ago

:wave1: :bye::bye: Tomorrow is my last day....I hope things will continue to go ok for you.....I am on Facebook if you are ever there...many of my CK friends are.....:kiss:

by BIGGRAMMA

BIGGRAMMA

10.

5 years ago

:wave1: :rock1::rock1: HAPPY NEW YEAR :rock1::rock1: I hope you will find your way back to us in 2009...You are missed..:kiss:

by BIGGRAMMA

BIGGRAMMA

9.

5 years ago

:wave1: COME BACK TO US!!!!!!

by BIGGRAMMA

BIGGRAMMA

8.

5 years ago

:wave1: It has been a long time since you have been here...I sure hope all is going well with you....:)

by BIGGRAMMA

BIGGRAMMA

7.

6 years ago

:hi: I am so sorry for you great loss! That is a beautiful eulogy and poem. I sat here wiping the tears as I read it. It's good to see you, even though you are hurting so. Take good care my friend. :love: :kiss:

by JUSTPATTI

JUSTPATTI

6.

6 years ago

Oh Grace your poem is beautiful:) Made me cry:cry2: in a good way though--miss seeing you here:heart2:

by TEXSKH05

TEXSKH05

5.

6 years ago

You wrote a lovely tribute to Mary and I know it meant the world to her family. Take good care of yourself.

by GWENDOLYN

4.

6 years ago

What a beautiful eulogy and poem. You were indeed lucky as was she to have you in her life. I'm sorry for your loss and imagine another angel looking down on you now and helping you to laugh again some day. Be well. Sue

by MEDIASUE

MEDIASUE

3.

6 years ago

You write so beautifully.......I'm sorry for this great loss

by JTAPP9

JTAPP9

2.

6 years ago

Good to see your face again, Grace. :kiss: I'm sorry it's veiled in the grief of your dear friend's passing, but I'm sure she would have cherished your words. Nice job as always. :kiss:

by ZUMBALOVE

ZUMBALOVE

1.

6 years ago

:wave1: Mary would love it....You are a true friend....:kiss:

by BIGGRAMMA

BIGGRAMMA