|Mary Beth and Me|
I’ve never been able to use so many words and phrases to describe one person and have all of them be complimentary, especially when describing another woman! But Mary Elizabeth MacDonald (Mary Beth) is the exception. She had the whole package.
Beautiful, charming, classy, intelligent, wise, elegant, poised, great conversationalist, loving, kind-hearted, motherly, witty, savvy, snappy dresser, “gifter”, loyal, humane, assertive, hospitable, generous, a patriot, cat whisperer, offering a smile, thoughtful, happy shopper, friend and mentor and fun, fun, fun!.
Mary Beth started out just being our neighbor in the August of ’96. She was our family’s female version of an American James Bond 007. One of the first things we found out about MaryBeth was that she had spent 30 years with the CIA. That intrigued us to no end. She would never tell us what she did all those years she lived in Europe, only to let our imaginations run wild and we loved it. After meeting Mary Beth, my oldest son, age 9 at the time, decided he wanted to work for the government in some way when he grew up. Today he is with a special operations squadron of the United States Air Force. She instilled a dream in him that he has now started to live out.
Everyone knew that Mary Beth loved cats. That was one of the first things we found we had in common. You have heard of the dog whisperer, well MaryBeth was the cat whisperer. I often wondered whether there was a sign that only cats could see, planted somewhere near Mary Beth’s front door that read:
All Kittens, and All Starving, Sick
or Dying Cats, Welcome Here
because they all showed up on her doorstep. Being the kind-hearted person that she was, she gave them all a home (hers).
All cats seemed to love her including mine. We once took a small vacation while having our floors refinished and left one of our cats in our bedroom with access to the porch. Mary Beth agreed to come over and feed Smokey. She ended up taking Smokey home with her fearing that even the porch might not be enough ventilation from the lacquer fumes. However when I went to retrieve Smokey (after being at Mary Beth’s only 3 days) my cat wasn’t interested in me. Smokey acted as if she didn’t care whether I took her home with me or not. She was quite comfortable with Mary Beth and her new surroundings.
Mary Beth’s love language must have been gifts. That was one of the ways she showed her love. She enjoyed giving gifts and gave them generously. It was not unusual to come to her front door and find a pile of packages that Fed-X had delivered, especially at Christmas. She made sure every member of my family and hers had a gift for every occasion. She put a great deal of thought into her gift giving, taking special care in finding a present that would have special meaning to each individual. She did the same when she picked out greeting cards. She was first class all the way.
Mary Beth loved to shop (what woman doesn’t). She had fine taste. I understand that in earlier years Bergdoff Goodman was one of her favorite haunts. But during our years in Jacksonville, an outing might consist of grabbing some lunch and then running by Talbots just to see what they had and what we didn’t need. Then we would buy it, (what we didn’t need) only to take it back the next week. She loved watching the Home Shopping Network and browsing through Horchow and Neiman Marcus catalogues (or as my husband calls it, “Needless Mark It Up”).
Mary Beth was an elegant woman with a great sense of style. She always knew just what to wear and how to accessorize for the best look. I loved it when she would hand me down a purse or a pair of shoes (we could wear the same size shoe).
Everyone who met Mary Beth loved her. She was gracious and kind and could carry on a conversation with anyone on just about any subject. That always amazed me. Politics, sports, fashion, food, or fine wines, there seemed to be no end to her knowledge of who’s who and what’s what. I always secretly wondered how she could know so much about… so much!.
Hospitable was just part of who she was. “Won’t you come sit down and stay awhile?” “Can I get you anything?” “Are you sure?” These are all phrases that still ring in my ear. She never got off the phone without saying, “What can I do for you?” She was selfless and I wished to emulate her.
Every time I dropped her off at home, (after an outing) even when my destination was the next street over, she would say, love you, love to David, love to the boys,…. safe home.
Mary Beth lost the love of her life last year, Douglas MacDonald. Being alone with the two of them for dinner was more entertaining than going to a party. They were a party all by themselves. Mary Beth never really recovered after Doug passed. I know she missed him terribly.
Though now it seems like she is far away, because I can no longer call her just to chat or seek her advice, her face and voice are still very clear in my mind. I’ll hold on to that. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to do “life” with Mary Elizabeth MacDonald for the past 16 years.
Mary Beth, the time has come to let you go. I’ll think of you and smile every time I have wine with dinner, eat crab cakes,or scallops, donuts, french fries, or birthday cake from Cinotti’s Bakery. I’ll miss you….I love you….love to Doug….
In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2 (NIV)
Safe home Mary Elizabeth MacDonald