One of my wildest, oldest and most beloved friends passed away. Her presence was a gift that forever changed my life. I don’t even allow myself to imagine where I would be without the presence of her and her delightful husband had not appeared in my life. If ever anyone was beyond words… it was Mary. I miss her already, but each day as I wake I am calling her in as a resource of presence and guidance, and if there was anyone on this planet that could lead me ever further down the path to my dreams, it is undoubtedly this 91 year old goddess…. My eyes keep leaking, but at the same time, I smile. That is the power she had in this world…
I offer you this chapter of my book as a gift… a gift in honour of Mary. If I could wish one thing for you it may just be that you too could have a Mary in your life…
These pictures were taken the last time we spoke…. xoxo
You will find these words on page 145 of my hardcover book,
An Invitation to Trust.
Make friends from all corners of the world.
Honour diversity. You don’t have to agree in order to be kind and care for each other.
My world contains the richest ragamuffin group of loveable humans you could ever imagine. By ragamuffin I mean diverse. Diverse in age, race, religion, culture, political views and their preferred method of folding their toilet paper (I’ve discovered scrunch or fold are the most common choices). In this book, I’ve written about a few of these friends and while I could easily have written about every single one of them and the wonder and beauty they birth into this world, I have chosen not to. Some things I guard with my life, my friends’ privacy and safety is one of them. I hold them close and dear to my own heart because our friendships are based on deep trust, consideration and respect. Friendship is a safe place for us to meet. Their absence in this book was simply a choice to shelter them from the spotlight and onslaught that can come from being exposed bare and naked in front of others.
Now, it’s with deep care and respect that I introduce you to a few of my friends Mary and Mr Mac. They are husband and wife. They changed my life. Mr Mac’s real name is Arthurum Chichester Buchanan McCartney, he came from a time and place where names were as strong as the integrity you walked in. Most people called him Chic.To me he was always Mr Mac. His presence, while entirely matter of fact, was as warm as any heart I have ever encountered. Some people were scared of him, I found him safe and whole and good. From the time we first met, every single day after school, I would run next door and sit with him in his room.
Some days we talked. Mostly we didn’t. We simply sat and basked in the presence we offered each other.
In his younger years, Mr Mac was a radio operator in the Merchant Navy. Using Morse code and regular radios, he had steered ships to safety during the war, earning many medals for his efforts.That’s what he did for me too, steered me to safety. For the most part, he spent his retirement in peace in his radio room at the very end of his house. Not many people ventured into this room. It was like a den, another world.The walls were lined with shelves, which overflowed with books and artefacts from his life. He had his computers and a full old school radio set.
Sometimes I would pull an artefact from his shelf and he would tell me a story. He helped me with my homework, he was the smartest human I knew. Upon his shelves was one of the only complete sets of the National Geographic magazine in the world. They were always trying to buy it back from him. I often feigned a need for help with my homework as a way to escape and run next door and sit with him in that den of warmth, peace and safety. Some people thought him harsh or brash, I never understood why. In the school holidays, he would occasionally let me listen to his radio conversations for a little while. He always told the men when I arrived and once they knew of my presence their conversations never lasted long. I’m not sure what they talked about, I do know that they found as much solace in his presence as I did. It amazed me that even after a whole lifetime, those naval mates managed to speak daily. Like clockwork, at the same time each and every day, in many countries all around the world, they each sat in their radio rooms and connected. They shared a lifetime commitment to honour each other, comradeship, the foundation their friendship was built upon.
Mr Mac’s routine was solid. Each day, at the same time, he would drive the 20 kilometres to town to check the mail, visit
the local electronics shop and collect anything on the list that his wife Mary had written. It was Mr Mac who drove me to work at the same time every Saturday morning. He walked me down the street, I was always on the inside, him on the outside, as this, he told me, was the only acceptable way a gentleman would walk. He delivered me to my door and wished me a good day.
He listened when I had meltdowns, telling me such things as, “Never cross a bridge before you come to it, so much time is wasted in life worrying about things that never come” and, “For goodness sakes, don’t nag your husband. Be honest and clear and ask him for what you want and I promise he will do the best he can to support you.” He also sided with me when I was heartbroken, “The world is full of fools, don’t listen to them.” His reliability and constancy taught me about the goodness of men. His acceptance and generosity nourished my trust in the world.
Mr Mac lived 88 years, which happens to be my goal too. He died when I was overseas on holidays with my family last year. Because I was out of range, I didn’t hear of his passing until I returned home a week after his funeral.A phone message from his daughter came through when we landed and I sat in the airport and unashamedly cried. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there to celebrate and honour his life along with everyone else. My love for both him and his wife will continue evermore.The woman I am today rests upon those years I spent sharing in silence, with the occasional conversation thrown in. It was an unlikely friendship, beautiful in every way.
Now his wife Mary, she is a whole different human. Tall, elegant, beautiful and enchanting in every imaginable way. Joy her constant companion. Kindness and subtlety are her ways. When I fell in love with her Canadian heart, I automatically decided that I would like every other Canadian person I ever met in my whole life. As private as Mr Mac was, Mary is in equal proportion fun, flamboyant and wild. I have never been greeted by any human more kind and charming than Mary. When you arrive at her doorstep, her response is how I imagine God might look like when she sees us. The first thing Mary does when you arrive is take a deep breath, her eyes widening as she smiles and almost breathes your beauty in. “Oh my, you are looking beautiful. Oh how wonderful. Gorgeous. Stand there, don’t move, let me look at you.”And she does, she looks with her whole being. Everything in her stops and she looks at you as if you are a miracle. Sometimes her eyes leak and when she is done, she pulls you in for a hug, squeezing you tight.
That’s how I want to greet the world, the same way Mary and God do. That’s my measuring stick. I’m still perfecting it, yet I have faith because I trained with a master.
Mary taught me to parallel park. Every time I do it, I hear her voice guiding me. It was Mary, who, even in her seventies, would pull up at the end of the fashion runway when modelling for the local clothing stores, and take an extra thirty seconds to spin and twirl so that every single human present could soak in her beauty. It’s Mary who turns up at a Toastmasters training to teach and inspire youth with a tea cosy on her head.
In my final year of school, Mary and Mr Mac flew me to Sydney with them for a weekend of culture. They introduced me to places I had never been nor knew existed. We spent a day in the art gallery viewing Monet’s art.We visited and ate at the botanic gardens.We shopped in the QueenVictoria Building for new frocks and then we wore those frocks to my first ever theatre performance, Phantom of the Opera. Mary set the bar for what beauty is for me and I dreamed that one day I may become like her, spreading kindness and joy, travelling the world, buying bargain haute couture and then returning to my beautiful home surrounded by friends, art and fun.
That night, the night of the theatre, a vision of sophisticated elegance, Mary walked from the bedroom with a refined air of grace. Mr Mac was waiting to see our new frocks. What he wasn’t prepared for was the fake nose ring Mary had hanging from her face. She was as cool as a cucumber. He exploded with distaste. She played the cool fool for a good minute and a half, an eternity in Mr Mac’s world, before she finally caught the snorting giggles, another of the things I loved about her.We retreated to the bedroom to roll around laughing for a good ten minutes or more.
Mary taught me joy. She taught me to be proud of the snorting laughter and belly cramps I got from hanging in her presence. After I had sat with Mr Mac, I would wander to the other end of the house where classical music was always playing and Mary and I would sit and share time. Some days we would bake pumpkin pie or cinnamon rolls, she was always attempting to convince me to learn bridge.We would plan her menu for the upcoming ladies bridge day (Prior to my time with Mary, I had never heard of cold soup!) or we would simply read Vogue fashion magazine together and dream of wearing the latest styles. Mary concreted in me a fathomless love of snail mail as she maintained friendships with penpals from all over the world. She also taught me that magic can truly exist as a grown-up. Not one part of me doubts that the fairy she saw as a child was real. My friend Mary is like no other, my oldest wildest friend to date! Her presence in my life is luminous.
As you can see, my friends are vast and varied. May you come to know that friends need not fit neatly into any particular mould. I encourage you to find space for all kinds of people in your heart. If you are anything like me, maybe some people will scare you, listen to your gut and trust its messages. However, if the fear you feel is a shy or hiding kind of fear, be brave, go and meet those people, tell them something wonderful that you notice about them, you can even tell them you are afraid. All humans need kindness, especially the ones that build big walls. Be kind to them too.You never ever know where this will lead. I pray you too have your own versions of Mary and Mr Mac in your world, people who love you and who leave you to be courageously entirely you.
All love, KMF xo