Sojourners

Shared by Andrea Cisco on December 22, 2010

 

It was 30 years ago that I first met Mary Lou.  I was in new employee coming into a very new and different environment – the very staid and elegant New York Chamber of Commerce.  I had all of the apprehensions that one has on their first day.  Often folks say that it takes a really long time to feel at “home” in a new workplace.  Not true for me on that first day because there I met Mary Lou with that big smile, in her “mama mode” taking care of the latest addition to the group.  By the end of the day I knew I was ok and this would be a good home.  And it was true because wherever Mary Lou and I worked together she carried that feeling of being at “home” with her.

Over these years Mary Lou and I have shared lots of laughs, some tears and a few fancy words.   Unprintable here!  She was friend, counselor and master teacher for all of us.   A sister……

As will happen, along the way I learned interesting tidbits about Mary Lou.  I offer just a few.

Did You Know?

Mary Lou was a history buff - she told me that she loved the Civil War history.

She was interested in the supernatural - we talked about spirits and Ouija boards and such

Napkins make really note pads.  They were Mary Lou’s “post-its”.   She used them for writing down phone numbers, taking notes and reminders etc.

One of her favorite sayings was “not for nothing.”   This was a signal that you needed to listen- up for what was going to follow that phrase.

When Mary Lou’s cheeks were red somebody had better step back.  That somebody was in trouble.

Mary Lou did not operate on clock time.  Her time was measured in relationships and keeping them.  Time was spent in making sure that the job was done - done well - whenever and however long it took. 

Piles: Mary Lou’s little mounds of paper and desk top stuff.  Folks reacted differently to the piles. Some were astounded; others frustrated and just wanted them to disappear.  Some folks were tickled and wondered what treasures might be found in the mound. I confess, I belong to the latter group because I am also a member of that peculiar club. 

 Mary Lou and I had an exit plan.  Whenever we were unhappy, really unhappy, about something we mused about the coffee and doughnut stand we were going to erect on some corner where there were no computers or phones and where people spent less than a minute with you.

And, if you did not know it, Mary Lou’s heart beat for all of us and her lovely hands toiled for us.

So, just as, Mary Lou and I have been sojourned in this life, I expect and look forward to continuing our journey in the next.  

 

 

Shared by Nancy Di Dia on December 21, 2010

Mary Lou for me was the "oak tree" for FWI--that solid tree that never wavered and stood her ground and defended the less extroverted and calmed the over zealous.  She always made time for me, whether it was idle time at the airport waiting for the next flight or just sharing my test results on my cancer check-ups--she emailed me in the waiting rooms waiting anxiously for my results, telling me it was all going to be fine.  Mary Lou listened no matter how busy she was or whether she was on hold for Car 78 to get Margaret to her next destination or to ensure Margaret signed our expense checks.  She was the mothership for all of us.  I am so honored to have been one of her many who she cared about and loved.  Our world will be void of the wonderful love and concern she brought to all of us.  Thank you Mary Lou for living with such grace and grit and for being the friend I will cherish the rest of my days on this earth.  Until we meet again...With Love..The very thought of you....fills my heart and soul.

Nancy J. Di Dia, Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corp

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 20, 2010

I was so sad to see Andrea's post on FB.  I had no idea.  Like everyone on the Team, I will miss her intelligence, wit. and winning sarcasm when necessary!    In many ways she was one of my best teachers. 

I think of all those late nights in New York - taking smoke breaks with her even though I didn't smoke.  I can't imagine how you must feel, although at times like this, one can only thank God that she is no longer in pain. 

Her ability to read people (the good, the bad and the ugly)  was like none-other. 

Please send my love to her family and everyone on the team.

Mary Hett

Mary Lou: Generosity of Spirit-Yvette Benjamin

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 20, 2010

 

 
When I think of Mary Lou, I think of her with joy. It was so appropriate where she sat in the NY office. The first thing you saw as you turned the corner was Mary Lou's desk and her ever-beaming smile.
 
No person was ever a stranger. Everyone stopped at her desk first and no matter how busy she was, she found time to make you feel welcome and special. 
 
Her joy at her Yankees winning the World Series was always wonderful to see.
 
She will continue to inspire me and I will always smile when I think of her.
 
Yvette Benjamin

Memories of a Christmas Tie-David Rhodes

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 20, 2010

I had hoped to be at Mary Lou's services today, but knew that was not to be.  I did go to the wake yesterday to pay my respects to her family. 

 I wore the Christmas tie that Mary Lou enjoyed so much.  Very funereal -- black with bugs bunny and snowmen.  I spent a moment to share that with her and could see her wry smile turn to laughter as we shared Christmas memories.  

She was a special person of great wit and joy.  The last time I spent any time with her she guided me to your place in Brooklyn after my GPS took me so so far of course.  We laughed out loud at how my lady GPS voice could fluster me so much that I ended up near Avenue U.  I'll miss her.

David Rhodes

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 20, 2010

 

Mary Lou guided all of us through good times and bad times (and Margaret's scheduling). Whenever I heard her voice on the phone, I knew all was well.  Her kindness and calmness sustained all of us. I will miss her and hope that she is enjoying her real "retirement" now, with no pain, no hassles and no worries.  Just peace.

 

Mona Lau

A Native American Prayer from Alce Rago

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 20, 2010

Here is a special Native American Prayer.

 I would like to share this with all of you in celebration of Mary Lou.
Since the death of my son and brother I frequently refer to the following  comforting words.
Loving thoughts to all. 
 
Alice Rago
 
NATIVE AMERICAN PRAYER
I give you this one thought to keep -
I am with you still -  I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone - 
I am with you still -  in each new dawn
~~ Author Unknown ~~

Mary Lou Was Like a Big Sister-Mina Ramos-Donovan

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 20, 2010

I'm so sorry I can't be there with you all.  Please give my condolences to Joe and Mary Lou's family. 

I don't know how to explain this, but I always thought Mary Lou would be around forever, the way I think of you being around forever.  And I haven't been able to stop crying and thinking about her.  There are just too many memories that have shaped and given meaning to my life.  

The other day I was frantically looking for the title to the car that I was going to drive to NYC to give to my grandson.  I was so angry at myself because I had just found it the day before, and not even 24 hours later I couldn't find it for the life of me.  I was so frustrated I started shoving piles of paper around and mumbling terrible things to myself.  Then for some unknown reason I thought about Mary Lou, and I deliberately slowed down.  I started to pick up one paper at a time, just the way she would always make me do whenever I couldn't find something from the many piles of papers on my desk.  She would always laugh and walk over to my desk and calmly go through each paper and invariably she would find what I was looking for and we would both enjoy a good laugh.  And sure enough, within 5 minutes I found the title and I had a good laugh and a good cry.  

 

When I think of it, Mary Lou was like a big sister, always playfully teasing me as she taught me how to 'get by and get along.'  Her lessons have served me well, not only on the job, but in my life.  I'm so saddened by her passing and my heart goes out to her family.  I do believe that she really has gone home and is finally resting, yet I can't help but feel that she is still looking out for all of us.  

 

Herminia Ramos-Donovan

30 Years of Memories

Shared by William Prensky on December 20, 2010

Mary Lou has been a part of our lives for 30 years.  She worked with my wife before we were married, and stayed with us through every change, every bend in the road, every rough spot and joyful one.  She has been a constant companion and presence for me and for us wherever we went.  And wherever we went, no matter how far away, we never felt alone - Mary Lou was only a phone call away.

How to sum her up?  Not possible.  I can share some memories, though – they will perhaps summon an image of her through all these years.

Her voice on the telephone – and her familiar phrase – “Mary Lou speaking”. 

Her reassurances – “I’ll take care of it, Dr. Bill.”

Her absolute loyalty to Margaret – “I’ll go home when Margaret does” (usually at 11pm)

Her absolute loyalty to her family – “Don’t you want something to eat Mary Lou?”  (said at 9 or 10pm)  Her reply:  “I’ll eat with Joe when I get home.” (usually around midnight)

Her steadfast loyalty to her work, to the Institute, to the people she took care of, throughout those three decades and in the end in the hardest of times, when it got harder and harder - yet never stopping.

People have said that Mary Lou was their rock, their wind beneath their sails, their smile to cheer the day.  She was all of that.  But she was more – she wasn’t just the wind, or the rock, or the smile.  She was the force behind those many things.  She was the tide which, though sometimes fiercely pounding, and sometimes gently flowing, shapes the rocks, smoothes the winds and brings you home.  Like all good tides, Mary Lou lifts all boats equally, and then, receding, sets them down again on shore gently before flowing calmly out to sea.

Bon Voyage

Shared by Gregory Hauck on December 19, 2010

Sail away, Mary Lou, sail away!

Sail away and don't look back. The shore ahead is closer than the shore behind. Sail away with no delay.

Sail away! You, the anchor beneath the sea, must now become the sail above. Sail away!

We, the crew you supported from below, shall now lift you high upon the wind. Sail away!

You, who were beyond assail, scout the course for us to follow!

And, when you reach the other side, kindly turn and gently wave with a breeze upon our teary cheek.

We are all sailing home this night, and there you shall be as you have always been. Sail away in the peace of a life well-lived, a life well-loved.

Sail away, dear, dear, Mary Lou. Sail away!

 

 

Mary Frances Winters Poem for Mary Lou

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 18, 2010

I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I know how very important she was to FWI and how very important she was to each of you personally.  I am sharing excerpts from a poem that has been very helpful to me over the years as I have dealt with loss.

When tomorrow starts without me,
      and I'm not there to see;
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
      all filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn't cry
      the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things
      we didn't get to say.
But when tomorrow starts without me,
      please try and understand,
That an angel came and called my name
      and took me by the hand,
And said my place was ready
      in heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
      all those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away,
      a tear fell from my eye,
For all my life I'd always thought
      I didn't want to die.
But when I walked through heaven's gates,
      I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
      from His great golden throne.
He said, "This is eternity
      and all I've promised you,
Today your life on earth is past,
      but here it starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow,
      but today will always last,
And since each day's the same day,
      there's no longing for the past.
But you have been so faithful,
      so trusting and so true,
Though there were times you did some things
      you knew you shouldn't do.
But you have been forgiven,
      and now at last your free.
So won't you take my hand
      and share my life with me?"
So when tomorrow starts without me,
      don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
      I'm right here in your heart.

May God's grace and mercy be with you during this difficult time and if there is anything that I can do for any of you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am a good listener. Mary-Frances


Maria Delgado's Poem for Mary Lou

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 18, 2010

I can't express the sadness I felt when I heard about Mary Lou's passing.

When she worked for Towers Perrin all I could remember was her smiling face when I went by her desk. I'd laugh at the pile of files that seemed to be above her head but she always found what she was looking for. I have no doubt she is smiling down at us and saying..... you were right, I am at peace in heaven.
 
May God bring comfort to her family and friends and never forget "love"
never dies.
 
                         God saw her getting tired
                      and a cure was not meant to be,
                       So he put his arms around her
                        and whispered "Come to Me".
                     With tearful eyes we watched you,
                         as we saw you pass away.
                       Although we loved you deeply,
                        we could not make you stay.
                    Your Golden Heart stopped beating,
                        hard working hands at rest.
                   God broke our hearts to prove to us,
                         He only takes the "best"
 
 
All my love to you Mary Lou.
 

Joanne Ruxton's Farewell to Mary Lou

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 18, 2010

To Marylou:

 

You never had a cross word for anyone. Your heart was so big…and open to those of us who needed soothing. Your soft shoulder was always available when we needed a place to rest.

 

Your laughter could shatter sadness, and your smile was prized by all. Wise and generous, you embraced our trials and joys and made them your own. Your needs were never as important as ours. A good friend, a kind spirit, and a loving heart – everything we fragile and flawed mortals should be.

 

You were my friend and still are. I can’t see you or hear you but you are still with me and always will be. I carry your friendship as a prized possession close to my heart.

 

Thank you dear Mary Lou for all that you gave me, all that you taught me, and all that you meant to me. As you start a new journey, remember that you take a piece of all of us with you. Until we meet again and stand together in laughter, I bid you farewell. Rest well, dear friend, for you have earned it.

 

Joanne (Jo) Ruxton

December 18, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Ruxton's Thoughts on Mary Lou

Shared by Margaret Regan on December 17, 2010

Kathy Callahan forwarded your email to me, and I hope you don't mind my writing to you at this very difficult time for you and all of ML's "family" at FWI.

Kathy had told me about Mary Lou's battle with bladder cancer, and I spoke with Mary Lou a couple of months ago.  I was incredibly saddened to hear that her condition has progressed so quickly, and will keep her and her beloved family in my thoughts and prayers.

 

My memories of Mary Lou are very dear to me.  As if it were yesterday, I can clearly see her workspace at 345 Madison Avenue (back in the so-called good old days at TP).  She was there for me in so many ways...my frustration with some people, whom I loved as friends and co-worker s but who could make we want to scream on a regular basis!  I remember packing her desk and all that paper when we had to move to another floor, and one of the managers was walking down the hallway throwing daggers at ML with her eyes.  What I remember most is ML's wonderful smile and infectious laugh...no matter what was going on in her life (both personal and professional), she was always ready to laugh at the ridiculous.   She was a mother and dear friend to all of us - ready to listen, ready to help, and always there for those who needed her.  I don't think I've ever known anyone who cared as much about people as Mary Lou.  She is definitely one of a kind.

 

My heart is heavy knowing that Mary Lou is in her final battle.  The people she will leave behind have been touched by an angel named Mary Lou, and I consider myself blessed to be one of those people.  When I spoke with ML a few months back, she was very clear in that she had no regrets.  That in and of itself is an incredible blessing for how many of us can truly say that? 

 

I know that you and ML have been together for many years, and I can't imagine how heavy your heart is right now.  Know that you too are in my thoughts, and I will pray that you receive the strength and courage you need to say farewell, for now, to your dear Mary Lou.  Kathy is going to the hospital today to see ML and Joe, and I've asked her to give ML a farewell kiss from me.  The world will be a poorer place without dear Mary Lou, but I take hope in knowing that there will be another angel watching over all of us, and helping us along our own journeys. 

 

If it's not too much trouble for you, would you mind adding me to your emails about Mary Lou?  I'm in touch with a few old-timers from TP (such as Joanne Deegan) who know of Mary Lou's illness and I'd like to keep them informed as best as I can.

 

The following was given to me by Walt Winder when my dad died in 1987...I hope it gives you the same peace and comfort it gave me.

 

I am standing on the sea shore,

A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.

She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her

Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says: "She is gone."

 

Gone! Where?

Gone from my sight - that is all.

She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her

And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.

The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her.

 

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She is gone",

There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout: "There she comes"

- and that is dying.  An horizon and just the limit of our sight.

Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further.

Bishop Brent

1862 - 1926

Joanne Ruxton

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