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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 

My dear friend Mary Lee

I first met Mary Lee in the early '70s in Rochdale College. It was a crazy time. I was married to a draft dodger, drug dealer named Lee and she was dating one of the other drug dealers there. Our first few meetings I really don't remember. A lot of my memories of that time are more like dreams or non-existent. My most vivid memories were after I had separated from my husband and started going out with one of the security guards, a man from Ohio. Mary Lee was going out with his best friend. We ended up all moving into a house at High Park - 1 Gothic Ave., which is not there anymore. It was a beautiful, old house and it's a shame that all the old houses there have been replaced by apartments. Both of these men from Ohio were abusive jerks - our first real connection. Then, I discovered how intelligent and funny Mary Lee was. We became fast friends. Our second strong connection was our love for animals. I had a dog named 'Dinky' and she had her lovely little Black Lab. We found a horseback riding stable out by Woodbine, next to Humber College. After we had ridden there a few times, the owner let us have really good horses and allowed us to go out on our own. What good times we had! Humber College was just under construction and we rode all around that area. I don't know what it looks like now, but back then it was surrounded by beautiful fields and forests. We galloped and laughed and totally enjoyed each others' company.

When I went back to the States, we lost touch for a few years, but I thought about her often and eventually contacted Mary Lee again. Over the many years since then, Mary Lee and I have written, talked on the phone and visited each other wherever I've been (I move around a lot!). I've come to visit her in Toronto three times and the last time, about four years ago, was most depressing. It was then that I became determined to get her out of there. I have been a total nag over the last few years just trying to convince her to follow her dream to buy a little house in the country and to have a dog or two. I firmly believe that if she had managed to do that she would not be where she is now. Who knows if I'm right.

One of my other fond, if not so pleasant, memories is of one of Mary Lee's visits to Vancouver Island. It was a cold morning in November and we decided to go for a horseback ride with another friend of mine. She almost backed out because of the cold, perhaps she had a premonition? We bundled up and went out on the horses. About 45 minutes into the ride we discovered that one of our trails had been blocked. Not to be deterred, we found a way through the woods in the general direction we wanted to go. When we came out to the road we wanted to be on, we were confronted by a steep bank going down to a ditch. We decided to go for it and one by one proceeded slowly down the bank. I don't know if Mary Lee was tensed up and tried to steer the horse in a different direction, but the horse came down the bank too quickly and jumped the ditch. Mary Lee was pitched off balance and fell off. From where I was, I saw her land on her butt and side. The ground was hard and I was concerned that she might be hurt. We made her stay down and called for help. My friend's boyfriend came and got her in his truck and we took her to the ER. After waiting an eternity, they X-rayed her arm and back and came back to tell us that she was bruised but nothing was broken. Mary Lee still complained about extreme pain. We started giving her a hard time and told her to take a pill and she'd feel better. The next day she was still in a lot of pain but had to go home. At that point, I thought she was just being whiny (I still feel bad about that!), but helped her to get to the ferry to go to the airport in Vancouver. I can only imagine what pain she was in dragging her luggage from ferry to bus and from bus to airline. When she got to Toronto, she went back to the ER and got more X-rays. It was discovered that she had cracked her elbow. From what I understand, she never fully recovered from that.

I'll miss Mary Lee terribly. We had a connection that was indescribable. We weren't very much alike in many ways, but were like sisters in others. She was easily frustrated, prissy and opinionated. She was kind, cared for animals more than just about anyone I know and had intelligence that was beyond my comprehension at times. I just wish I could be there with all of her friends to say goodbye.

If anybody wants to email me, I can be reached at leading@rcabletv.com.

Jan

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