Editorial: Remembering Mary
I can’t remember the first time I met Mary Yamada, or when she started volunteering for The Bulletin monthly mail out. It’s like she has always been there, along with the rest of the amazing crew. I do remember the last time ever I saw her. It was at Hi Genki after the mail out for the March issue, at our regular volunteer lunch. News was starting to filter down about this new virus, but none of us had any idea that we’d all be in lockdown within a few weeks and that our monthly work parties and lunches would come to a crashing halt. Years ago, I don’t remember when, Mary started bringing her son Terry to help out at the mailing, and he immediately made himself indispensable, part of the Bulletin family. They always sat by me at lunch. At that last lunch with Mary, I learned that she and I shared a love for Johnny Cash and his brand of old time country music. I mean, why not?
Mary pulled me aside one day, many years ago, now, and told me that she had cancer. I remember wondering how she could ever survive the treatment. She was so small, it seemed like a light breeze could carry her away. I had no idea how tough she was. She fought hard, and the cancer went into remission. When she handed me a letter, years later, I knew it was bad news. The cancer had come back. This time, I had no doubt she would survive. And she did, for many more years. I think she missed less than a handful of mailings, if that. Then, a year or so ago, she told me that the treatments were making her sicker than the disease and the doctors were taking her off the medication. It’s OK, she said. I’ve had a good life. Ironically, she looked and felt a lot better once they stopped treatment.
Last month, while doing the Bulletin mailing alone in my living room, I suddenly thought of Mary. I texted Terry to see how she was holding up during the isolation. That’s when he told me that she was in the hospital and wasn’t going to be coming home. He called me a few days later to tell me she had passed away.
I was happy to call Mary my friend, even if she called me “boss.” Rest in peace, Mary, your work here is done. I will always remember you and our precious short time together that stretched out over years.