Mary Lynne East, lately of suburban Warsaw, left us on February 17, 2014 after a pretty interesting life shared with her partner of 45 years Ken, her daughter Robin, son-in-law David and for all too short a time, her treasured grandson, Sam.
Mary Lynne was rarely what you expected. She celebrated her United Empire Loyalist roots and shared the loyalty of her ancestors to the British Crown, but had little truck or trade with their evangelical Methodism.
Although she taught Sunday School in Alma, New Brunswick for a time, Mary Lynne was no particular fan of organized religion. She rather felt that religion, like literature and geography, were essential elements of our DNA and somebody ought to tell our kids about it.
She felt that kids to grow should read books or be read to and she volunteered to read in schools from time to time to ensure that happened.
She enjoyed television when it featured upper class, snobbish Brits living lives of extravagance and intrigue. She thought rain delays at baseball games were more interesting to watch than football or hockey and believed that television ought to be interactive. Politicians who say stupid things and journalists who misuse the language ought to held immediately to account and loud, unheard epithets hurled at the telly did not constitute sufficient reprimand. Conservatives should not under any circumstances be allowed access to the medium.
For much of her married life Mary Lynne lived near some of Canada’s great national parks and she loved the nature in and around them. She could stand for hours on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy watching the scallop draggers come to port In Alma, New Brunswick; sit on the rocks and watch the white pelicans in the Slave River at Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories; or, drive miles down a decaying mining road on a Sunday afternoon to walk on the sub-alpine tundra far above Whitehorse in the Yukon.
But that was as close to nature as she was prepared to get. She tried camping for two nights in 1972 and judged it to be an unacceptable alternative to comfy beds and hot showers.
She was a wondrous good cook and enjoyed being in the kitchen – as much for the excuse it provided to collect all manner of kitchen gadgets , as the meals it generated. If there was a gizmo that did unusual things to raw vegetables, Mary Lynne owned it.
Mary Lynne could not have been a more proud and loving wife, mother, and grandmother who felt the emotions of those closest to her as if they were her own. We have been so lucky to have had her as the wind beneath our wings through times of tribulation, to share and celebrate with us in our triumphs, and just to hear her unmistakable, resonating laugh at the simple, silly and ridiculous things that others may or may not find humour in.
Her essence and spirituality at the end were of the moment and not of the hereafter. When asked how she would like to be remembered, she responded, “I don’t really care, I won’t be here.” Despite this ambivalence, remember her we will while remembering all the people who touched her life in positive ways.
To celebrate all those people who made our lives richer and salute some organizations important to her, we will be making contributions on their behalf to folks who care for the welfare of animals and the future of the world’s children.
A private family celebration of Mary Lynne’s life will be held in the Cypress Hills of southeastern Alberta at a later date. She grew up in that country and was drawn back to it for a lifetime.