One of the things that always cracked me up about Mary was that she always referred to her girls by full name- in the beginning she always said "Leslie Piercy" and "Leigh Piercy", and then later referred to them by their married names. Really, Mary? Because I thought you were talking about other Leslies and Leighs? It was almost as if she assumed I didn't know them.
Oh, wait... I didn't.
Well, that's not totally true. We'd all grown up at the same church, but since we had an (at that time) age difference, they were out of the youth group before I ever got in it. And while their names were well known at my high school, we never were there at the same time. When Daddy and Mary got married, I was the baby in the family. Both Leslie and Leigh were already out of high school and not living at home. Chris (my brother) was still there, but it wasn't long before he left for NC State. So I was the only one around 28715 to be part of their marriage from the perspective of a kid with newly remarried parents. I would see Leigh and Leslie occasionally when I was at Daddy and Mary's house, but not much.
When I got to college, Leslie married Bob, and I came home for that wedding. When Leigh married Mike, I'm guessing I was too busy living my very important life to be there, but I remember hearing all about it.
Then, when my trips home became less regular (remember: very important life going on), the girls were always so gracious to give me "alone" time with Daddy and Mary when we were there. By this point they were both living near them, so they had more regular "access" to them, and allowed me to have more un-interrupted time while I was around. Over the years we only overlapped occasionally... I can only remember one "family" dinner in all the 20 years they were married.
I knew them by word only, yet I still feel like I knew them. Mary (and Daddy, for that matter) never stopped talking about what was going on in their lives, and then later when you threw children in the mix, I grew to "know" them even more.
I remember sometime over the last 2 years being at Daddy and Mary's house and Leslie dropped by to show them something Maddy (her daughter) had written for school. We hung out briefly, and in that moment I remember thinking "it's a shame we don't know each other... I think we would really get along."
You know what? I was right.
I had the extreme honor of spending the last week of Mary's life not only with her, but with her beautiful daughters... my Step Sisters... too. We "holed up" (how's that for a good mountain term?) in Mary's room at The Solace Center and, well, got to become family. After all these years. We told stories, we laughed, we cried, we prayed, we shared scripture, and we loved. We learned, together, how each of us benefited from the marriage of our parents. We talked about our current lives as well as our past. We told funny stories about our children. We told funnier stories about our parents. We celebrated successes (Bob became an Iron Man last weekend! All hail King Bob!) We celebrated birthdays. We talked about people we shared in common. And we talked about the days to come... and what our worlds would look like... without the physical presence of Mary in our daily lives.
I cannot begin to imagine what that world will be like. Even now as I write this, it's hard to see the screen for the flood of tears that emerges when I try. My heart continues to ache for my Daddy, for the girls, for our children... but it does rejoice for Mary. I know that now as she is healthy in heaven (and can hear clearly!) she will be laughing and loving at the feet of Jesus. If she was cognizant at all in her last days, I know she left this earth with a full heart hearing all her girls laughing and telling stories. And while I don't know what the next few days, months, years will hold... I know that as we figure out this new life, I won't be alone.
I will have the love and support of my
While I don't have a pic of the girls to share with you,
I can't help but show off this lovely picture of Daddy and Mary on my wedding day.
March 29, 1945- November 10, 2010