All My Mary’s.
Dedicated to my sister.
I remember her hair most of all. And all the things she did to it.
Ironing it on Mom’s ironing board in the living room which seemed insane to an 11-year old boy.
I also remember her sitting on the cheap-o sofa we had, smoking a cigarette, wearing a plastic bag around her hair with a long plastic tube attached to a blue round plastic thing sitting on an end table…a 1960’s space-age hair dryer. Watching “The Flying Nun.”
I remember the singing too. After dinner, sitting around, Mary-Ellen and Pat singing “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” with a delayed style…you know, one starts the song, the other waits then joins in. That was always Mary…Pat starts, Mary joins in, joyfully.
I also remember her awesome KLH radio…amazing stereo sound from a mysterious, elegant wooden box. First time I ever heard Elton John’s “Your Song” was when I was doing homework at the kitchen table, sitting on that church bench we had. Mary-Ellen was in her room, probably getting ready for a date with one of her boyfriends.
Gary the weirdo. George the funny guy. And then Billy the quiet guy, and her eventual husband.
I also remember her always being sick and fragile. Stories of her having a bad back from some car accident I can’t recall. Then the ever-present diabetes stalking her like an assassin. Letting down her guard far too often, thinking perhaps she really wasn’t being followed anymore, And celebrating with a piece of cake.
There was also religious Mary-Ellen too. Over-the-top Marriage Encounter Mary. And the lovable “I don’t get it” Mary who showed up just when we needed her most, when we were all together, laughing at one of Pat’s jokes -- and to make it extra funny, Mary not getting it.
There were more Mary’s too. The one that teased me about who I liked in school. (Toni Colletti). But never rode me too hard like Pat or Liz. She was far too nice for that.
These are my Mary’s. Gentle, cute, innocent, kind, beautiful, a little crazy, a little clueless at times. But always Mary. Happy birthday sis. I miss you.