I have come to appreciate my sister, Mary, in so many ways over the years. In our early years, I was her baby, much to my annoyance, but she took her position seriously. It was she who made me understand the power of the written word. She who encouraged me to draw and celebrate my successes. She who first wrote and read her own stories to me.
Mary showed me how hard a person can work against brutal obstacles and succeed. She was disabled with polio at eight years of age. She married a great guy and lost him a decade later to Huntington’s disease. She raised five children on her own (her youngest are identical triplets), continued to work as a youth librarian, and continued to paint and draw when there was no time to do so.
In 2011 Mary discovered she had colon cancer and dealt with a series of operations and infections that seriously affected her ability to paint. She dealt with the big C with the same kind of courage and optimism as she faced everything else. She fought hard for three years, and when in May 2014 she was told the cancer had moved to her brain, she understood her gift of time was gone. She and I had three precious but very painful months together.
When I am overcome with ‘troubles’ and the darkness that affects all creatives, I remember the path she took with heroism and unfailing hope. She told me at the end that she was proud of me. That I needed to do it–go for the gusto and follow my bliss. I promised her I would.
From time to time on my blog posts and in my stories of the month I intend to spotlight Mary’s work as well as my own. I do believe she was on the point of breaking out with her art when cancer caught her and her energy left her. The picture in the banner above is a detail from one of her paintings. Like Mary, her paintings were dancing with light. I know wherever she is now, her spirit is doing that too.
I give thanks for Mary every day. For her friendship, for being my muse. I miss her and always will. We were sisters of the heart. Our angels were sisters. My dearest muse will always be with me and I with her.
Do you have someone in your life who was instrumental in helping you be who you are? I would love to know.