20 January 2009
Another beautiful star in the sky....
If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. ~Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe, letter to President Franklin Pierce
I finally met Marie Mariano this past summer after hearing about what an amazing person she was through Kris and Laura for the last nine years. They had come to know her through Assisthers, a group of volunteers we work with here in Houston. Marie is actually one of the founding volunteers. The stories they passed on to me and others about her life were incredible and almost unbelievable. When it finally came time for me to be in her life and she in mine I had no doubt that they were true.
Marie was one of a kind but hopefully God didn't break her mold when she was created for this world. We need more like her in this life on planet Earth. Marie was born in Pocatello, Idaho and when her parents died at a very young age, she took over the rearing of her siblings because she didn't want them to be split up amongst other family members. She told me stories. Hard stories about barely making it; odd jobs and about itinerant farm jobs that she and her siblings took in the summers. When asked by the farmer what they wanted for pay, Marie asked for food so they could get through the long, hard winters. Marie told me a story about a mobster (not a very nice guy on the surface) that watched over her and her siblings on the sly. He made sure they had the coal needed for the hard winters so they would stay warm and not freeze. Marie always knew it was him because she'd heard he was kinder than he looked but didn't let his secret out in the town they lived in. It would have ruined his reputation. She told me that she still prayed and thanked God for him at the Catholic Church she attended.
Marie had a great respect for the Native American culture and was a Public Health Nurse on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation helping deliver babies and learning midwifery. She told me a story about Ernest Hemingway during Hurricane Ike this last fall. Apparently he wanted to go hunting for trophy heads where she was living at that time and somehow she had been volunteered to be his guide since she was an experienced hunter and knew the land. Marie had nothing but disdain for trophy hunters being a lover of nature herself and formulated a plan of her own. She knew he liked to drink a bit so Marie took Hemingway way up a mountain and gave him plenty to drink. She told him tales of her adventures and he never sobered up enough to shoot a single thing. Got him stinkin' eye drunk, she did. Sly and smart and maybe a little wicked!
Marie went on to begin service in the Army Nurse Corps and served in the Korean War. So many stories she told and I didn't even write a single one down. When she finished her tour of duty, she settled in Houston and got her Master's Degree in Nursing at the University of Texas and specialized in Neurological/ Neurosurgical Nursing for over 30 years at Methodist Hospital. Marie retired and went on to volunteer with Casa, a special hospice for AIDS patients and gave each of her clients the special care and light only she was capable of.
My friend Marie was an animal lover of huge magnitude and gave generously of her time and money to the local Humane Society and the national chapter through the years. Many an animal came to her door for food and shelter. She didn't care what breed or species they were, she never turned them away. It was as if they knew an angel lived there. Marie always took the strays in to the local shelter and had them spayed, neutered and updated for vaccinations. If they needed to stay awhile she let them- until a forever home could be found. Marie was her own rescue organization and all the creatures loved her. Marie's Schnauzer, Corky and Basset Hound, Bridgette will live with Kris and I along with Bentley, Walter and Jax. We promised her they'd be with humans that loved them after she went on. Little Bit, her mean, bite your finger off Chihuahua is now living with her Vet. and is as happy as he can be per Marie's request.
Marie loved to bet, well let me say what it really was- she love to gamble. On football and boxing. She even had a bookie. Actually she had more than one in her lifetime but one was murdered or something. She was a little worried I think for awhile but we told her who would believe a sweet eighty-six year old Catholic lady would be involved in that kind of pastime! So she got herself a new one and was back in business. Back during the hurricane she and her pups came to stay with us for a few days. Apparently the gas company had blown a main line directly behind her home trying to fix it after Ike rolled through. Her smallest pup, Little Bit (nicknamed Little Bastard cause he was so mean) needed a bath and big time nail clipping. I volunteered knowing he'd bite the holy crap out of me but he was tearing her skin on her arms up really bad. Marie said she'd pay me but I said no way. So she bet me I wouldn't be able to bath and clip his nails. Well, he's so tiny my smallest muzzle wouldn't even fit on him. So Kris helped me and an hour later he was done. Not too bad but not fun. Here comes Marie waving a fifty dollar bill saying I won but I said, "oh,no- I didn't take that bet!" I really didn't know if I'd be able to finish what I'd started. So Marie said she'd take that fifty and bet it on a fight and double it. Which is what she did. A month later I'm having the worst week at school and dealing with crap from my ex and I go to my 4-runner after school and realize I have a message on my phone. It is Marie telling me she's doubled my money and what did I want to do? Bet it on another fight in December or for her to send it to me? Well I laughed till I cried that afternoon in my truck. She was a character I'll never forget. Of course I called her and told her that I hadn't taken that bet but she could bet it all and we'd see what eventually happened since she was so stubborn. And of course she sent me a check in December from the last fight!
I think Marie was ready to go on to Paradise to see her beloved Sarah and other family and friends, both two-legged and four-legged. She talked about it often to those that listen. She also talked to me about my dream of working with animals. I told her that I'd wished I'd known what my passion was earlier in my life so I wasn't getting such a late start on it and she replied that it didn't matter. As long as I found what made me happy and complete was what was most important. Do it now, not later was her motto. This coming from a woman who'd climbed to the top of Mount Ranier for nothing but the sheer adventure made me feel
right with myself. Marie's encouragement has helped me to continue to explore my path with school and where my path may lead me.
I miss her but know she is at the Rainbow Bridge with her loved ones. I'll see her again one day when it is my time to fly. Marie Mariano born June 5, 1921. She lived life exuberantly till
December 24, 2008 when she left us to go on to Paradise.
Love to Marie and thanks for the memories.