And so ended the last email I received from the bastion of spirit, the defender of democracy and truth in British Columbia, BC Mary.
Love she did, her family most of all, Nadina, Jacob, and Fraser as well as Guy… ; ) Robin, Kootcoot, Cal, Leah and all her friends and family, right up to and including the end, which came early March 3rd, 2012 at Toronto General hospital. My deepest condolances to all her family and friends who loved her well. I’m sure I’ve missed many names but tears and emotion rule, please forgive me for this.
To be honest I can’t even remember the exact moment I met Mary, our friendship seemingly longer than actual time, similar to Robin Mathews anecdotes.I’m sure she found me, she was brilliant at drawing those of similar minds and goals to her, guided by the light of truth. Old souls, comrades in arms, she was just as pissed about both big parties in BC as I was, and so we became allies first, friends in short order.
But saying we were just friends is not quite correct- she was more than my friend – she was my mentor, inspiration, my source of courage, and very much both a mother figure and female confidante. She epitomized everything I strived to be as a writer. Detailed, exhaustive, particular. She urged me to stay on something when my gut told me there was more, she very much prodded me to be bold, be loud, but never stay silent. Mysterious as she was to many ( ” just who is, BC Mary? was a common email question, but we would never tell), those who knew her, knew of her capacity for investigation and drive for change in this great province. Her quick wit, biting remarks when needed, and kick in the ass if it applied,have been felt by many, again with love being the catalyst of them all. She wanted us all to be our best, as she gave the best to all of us.
She was one of the the only people who believed with all her heart, that I should, and could, run as an independent. And she said so often, words that echo in my heart that over flows with tears today.
We had fun over the years, great fun, via emails of course. All of us. United by a common goal that centred around the Liberals, I recall in particular when I located a photo of Campbell and Dauphinee together,while he was still in power, in a particularly tender moment. She wanted that photo, but there was no way he was going to give it to Mary. I emailed the photographer who was happily riding the Liberal train, and he was more than happy to oblige to sell me a copy of the photo and the rights to use it. Of course, it was not my fault that I shared the same name ( different spelling) as a good friend to said subject…. and he simply assumed I was that person! Oh, the laughter that Mary had when I told her the photo was in hand. I mailed it to her, framed, for posterity. Good times, back then. Good times. But there was so much more to our BC Mary. So much more than just the monumental dedication to documenting and pushing to reveal the truth of what happened to BC Rail.
We shared many, many personal moments -some good, some bad, some historic. We all have our unique memories and wonderful times with Mary. I know of all her grandsons best moments, his personal observations and insight, her worries and angers as a woman removed from these fights. She was so proud of ” Jakie” as she would sometimes call him, he was everything to her. The voice of an angel too, she said. She shared photos and maps of potential new homes when she moved from the big house “that talked in each room”, stories of the home stagers, the work, Nadina, her lovely, talented Nadina…I felt the pride of her daughters performances, her fears for her eyesight….which pained me physically when we first heard what was happening. So cruel a thing to happen to a woman like Mary whose life centered around her dedicated work. Many did not she was an author, having written some amazingly detailed books.
She knew of my battles and scares with cancer, my sons special needs, and my personal struggles. She would tell me stories of her youth, her family growing up, her marriage, in understanding, and maybe that was our personal connection as women. We try to do it all and take the burden of the world on our shoulders and she often did.
Through it all, the clarity of her love for this great province was clear, uncorrupted and pure, as was her love for those of us fighting to uphold all that is right and true and democratic. It was that love that bound us, until even two weeks ago when she told me exactly how far along she really was – although in no way did I expect this close – and that she was spending this time in a lovely log home on a lake in Ontario, with her ex, who at the end proved a valued, loved and respected ally. She hoped somehow, and voiced it, thatwe would all continue the work she had begun, not just for BC rail, but for this province. She wants us all to continue that fight. The good fight.
In her words:
” There’s no cure for what I have — a “fairly aggressive kind of cancer” — but so far am holding steady. It’s been 2 years of holding steady. I ain’t what I used to be, but I’m alive, blogging, and — did you know this? — living with my dear old ex. and finding a remarkable contentment in that. I think it is called perspective…. there is a comfort being together in these circumstances.”
She signed that last email, ” Love Mary. ”
I love you too Mary, more than I ever said, a regret I am feeling in this moment strongly.
She blogged her last blog, on February 23rd. http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/ With clarity, and no indication of her imminent departure, she railed against Harper and the current robocall scandal.
She was valiant, determined and dedicated to the people of BC until the end, despite being ridiculed by many a well-known reporter for her persistence and undying dedication to revealing the truth behind the gift of BC Rail. It is that very persistence and dedication I admired so much and that remains her legacy, among others, to the people of this fine province whether they knew her or not. Her work at The Legislature Raids is an amazing part of the history of British Columbia.
Her final absence is truly, something I was not prepared to confront, and I am bereft. Actually, bereft does not begin to describe the waterfall of emotions I’m feeling today. There simply is no one else like our BC Mary, nor will there ever be again. She was one in a million.
I leave you, with the words of Robin Mathews:
” BC Mary provided – as we all know – one of the solid, on-going, thorough, responsible, informative sites on the BC Rail Scandal and the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial. She was dedicated to the defense of the people and the province of B.C. until the end, providing us all with a rare example of determination and toughness, with clarity of mind and purpose, and with a breadth of humanity.
She and I came into contact when she dropped me a note – how many years ago? – and suggested I ‘drop down’ to the Supreme Court of British Columbia and look at the Basi, Virk, and Basi pre-trial hearings. We never met. But we became firm friends and discussed – over the years – everything from philosophy and opera to “nice” police officers, the idyllic life on the Gulf Islands … and much, much more. She remembered, from when she lived in the Francois Lake/Burns Lake area of B.C., my brother who “drove the ferry” there. We seem to have had a much longer time of friendship than we were granted.
She knew that her time was being used up, and she faced the end with wonderful calm, telling me that she had, really, three lives – all of which were good. She was much more calm and stoic about her leaving than I was.
Canada has lost one of its best. British Columbia has been blessed and strengthened by her life and work. Her family has everything to mourn. We shall not look upon her like again. Nor will she really be gone, for her work will (silently) help to shape any of the things that are good about our future in this province.
BC Mary is gone … and we mourn.” ~ Robin Mathews
We all welcome your memories of Mary here to be share with all who loved her well. And perhaps in a not so odd coincidence, a chinook blew warm and constant on the coast today.
I like to think it was BC Mary coming home.
** update- Leonard Krog rose in the house today to ask everyone to pay respect to Mary. Many, many thanks to Norman for this wonderful gesture and many thanks to Leonard for this respect. : http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2012/03/requiescat-in-pace.html
From Hansardhttp://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/39th4th/H20305y.htm :
L. Krog: I rise today to ask the House to pay its respects to the passing of one of British Columbia’s most courageous citizen journalists, a woman who was a harsh critic of the B.C. government, particularly around the sale of B.C. Rail, and also critical of yours truly, in the role that I played in criticizing the government. She was a well-known blogger. A defender of democracy, she feared no power. I’d ask the House to pay its respect to the passing of B.C. Mary — Mary Mackie.