One of my earliest memories of Marion was attending meetings of a committee at our church to become welcoming and affirming to GLBT people. Marion's daughter had a lesbian close friend, whom she loved like a daughter. She and another woman, Gene, were close friends and staunchly challenging the Catholic church to do the right thing! Gene was impassioned, but Marion was downright feisty, wanting to march on the Archdiocese or do something else radical. She expressed great consternation at the church she felt was extremely misguided. Marion's passion and attempts to push us forward were key factors in our church becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation and a member of the Community of Welcoming Congregations. Marion lived her faith by advocating for the less fortunate and the underrepresented. GLBT equality and justice was only one of the many things she fought for.
|Pastor Laurie speaking about Marion at the prayer breakfast|
|Jewish, protestant, and Buddhist clergy who spoke|
She'd battled cancer a couple of times, had at least one stroke, and in recent years succumbed to Alzheimer's. She leaves behind a loving and devoted husband, five children, six grandchildren, and scores of friends who will miss her dearly, but whose lives have been forever touched and inspired. What I learned from Marion, and was reminded of today, was to not be afraid of speaking my mind and doing the right thing.
"On one final note...Ciao, arrivederci, so long, been good to know ya, I did it my way, and seriously folks, I love you!!!' Think of me as laughing and enjoying what I had in this life but off on another adventure and looking forward to new sights and renewing old acquaintances."
On our way home today from Marion's memorial service, I learned that my lifelong friend Mary Olson died yesterday.
|Dancing at Mission of the Atonement's|
25th anniversary party
|At Holden Village in 2011, with her daughter Annette|
She and Oscar danced their way through most of their elder years...as members of a local folk-dancing troupe. Oscar carried around little slips of paper in his pocket that advertised their dance group and invited everyone to join them. At church special events, they would put on their international folk costumes and dance for us. It kept them young, I believe! At their 50th wedding anniversary party, Oscar wore his military uniform--how many men would be able to fit into their uniform that many years later? Must have been the dance!
|Beautiful Italian Mary!|
Every time I saw her, she called me her "baby," and she delighted in telling everyone that she'd known me since I was a little girl. She did the same for my sister Nadine when they visited our church. They were passionately dedicated to our church, even though it meant getting rides from others or even taking the bus to church each week, after they stopped driving.
|Beautiful photo taken by their granddaughter|
|Talking to Annette at another 25th anniversary party|
|The oldest members with the|
youngest member at the time, Sydney
Even though Mary's sight was failing, she could always sense my presence and greeted me with a smile and a warm hug. How I wish that the last time I saw her, I hadn't been so busy at church...and I had taken more time to chat with her. How little I knew that it would be my last time to connect with her and how I wish I would have told her how much I loved her and what a positive influence she has been in my life.
|Mary dancing with April|
~ Amos Bronson Alcott
As my friend April just wrote on Facebook, "this is Mary, who taught me what life should be like at 90. I will miss you." Exactly...I want to be just like Marion and Mary when I get older...wise, wonderful, inspirational, and compassionate women who modeled love and justice for all. My life will not be the same without you.