I come from good peasant genes – Eastern European – 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. I’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 virgins… 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. He’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 ‘I love you’… Even when the light fades in my old age I’ll remember…
(For Mary there were no virtues in getting old:)
Your handwriting has become a scrawl and you end up printing. “How wonderful! You’re ninety-six?” Haw! Wait until you get there yourself! Your peers are gone. You have outlived them – or they have deteriorated – in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Don’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 Wolfville’s charity fundraiser calendar entitled Bodies Without Borders (cover image, Miss December). The above are Mary’s words, which were read by many WOW members during her service on March 15th at the Manning Memorial Chapel.
Photo Credit: Wendy Elliott