Meg is feeling a little down today; she got news that her aunt passed away early today.
Last year she wrote about Mary, and told you a little of her story.
Actually, I always called her Mare, just like Rhoda Morgenstern called Mary Richards “Mare”. It was a term of endearment, and it was the name that truly fit her best. Mary was not a whole lot older than me, just a mere 12 years. I never prefaced her name with Aunt, she was way too hip and cool for that; we were always Mare and Marg. She was the person that got her long hair ironed on an ironing board, drove a blue Mustang, and took me to my first professional sporting event. After a wild hockey game at the Boston Garden, she let me hang out and meet the players, while she and her boyfriend hung back and drank long neck beers out of brown paper bags.
Mare dry cleaned her jeans, and was the first person I knew that decorated their apartment with hanging ferns and stick on mirrors. She had a stereo stashed in an antique ice chest, and it played “Bette Davis Eyes“. She was the queen of thrift stores and shopping, never missing a bargain or snagging a classic piece of jewelry.
She lived in an apartment where I could swim in the pool with Bryant Gumbel’s best friend, have cocktails on the patio, and end the day with cheeseburgers on the grill.
She was the person that left New England, to live her dream in California. She lived on the beach, rode her bike, traveled and collected treasures to decorate her cute little seaside abode. I was always amazed and astounded that she decamped from Boston to California, being on her own, living the life she always wanted.
Things became sad at one point; we had become estranged; my mom and Mare, and things were not right for a very long time. Years later we got a call from a girl, and that girl turned out to be Mare’s daughter, my cousin. Somehow her discovery and appearance managed to bring people back together. At that point we realized Mare had a illness very similar to ALS, and the progression of her illness took a long and slow turn, where she lost all of her ability to function. But even until these last few weeks, she wanted to wear great perfume, put on a snazzy silver bangle, and read the headlines of PEOPLE magazine.
Because that was Mary, vintage Mare, and she wasn’t going to die if she didn’t look good, or smell good.
And I look around my house and see all the things that influenced me. Cool pieces of wrought iron hanging on a wall, lumber salvaged from someone’s trash to make a quirky sign. A pair of earrings that scream the 1950’s. Shoes that were found at TJ Maxx that say Prada. That was all her doing.
Meg stills practices that slouch from 1972 where she learned the correct way to hide illegal beverages in the Boston Garden lobby when she was 12, and Meg knows she wouldn’t have half the snazz appeal if weren’t for Mare.
So, here’s to you Mare. I toast you with a cold beer in a brown paper bag, and it never looked classier all because of you. Tonight you are a twinkle in the sky, or maybe a neon beer sign in the heavens, and I will never forget you.