IÂ come from good peasant genes â€“ Eastern European â€“ Romania, actually. We were poor. I remember my mother taking in boarders. My first job was in a candy store at the age of 10. Then I used to work in the schmata business, the rag trade, for $5 a week. Iâ€™ve seen signs: No Jews or dogs allowed.
Coke bottle glasses, hand-me down clothes, terrible shyness. That was my teenage years. What saved me was politics and love…My grandma loved me. We shared a bed. She hugged me and she admired me and she made me laugh. I learned from her that our poverty was because of the capitalist bastards and that it was good to be noisy about it.
Long story short I was lucky. I met my future husband just before he was sent to war and in our letters back and forth we poured out our hearts and souls to one other for over 3 years. I never stopped trusting him. When he returned and we married, we were both still virginsâ€¦ He loved me and he loved every bit of my body. It was a revelation to me.
And with all the changes over the years – our 3 children, my sagging belly, falling breasts, wrinkling bottom, my body was still precious to Reid. As his was to me, right until the end. Heâ€™s gone now but see these love handles? My body remembers. I slept in his arms and every night the last words I heard were â€˜I love youâ€™… Even when the light fades in my old age Iâ€™ll remember…
(For Mary there were no virtues in getting old:)
Your handwriting has become a scrawl and you end up printing. â€œHow wonderful! Youâ€™re ninety-six?â€ Haw! Wait until you get there yourself! Your peers are gone. You have outlived them â€“ or they have deteriorated â€“ in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Donâ€™t misunderstand me, I am just stating facts. Not complaining. I still have opinions.
Wolfville and the Annapolis Valley lost a matriarch on March 11th when Mary Ganong, 97, passed on. In 2006 she participated in the Women of Wolfvilleâ€™s charity fundraiser calendar entitled Bodies Without Borders (cover image, Miss December). The above are Maryâ€™s words, which were read by many WOW members during her service on March 15th at the Manning Memorial Chapel.
Photo Credit: Wendy Elliott