Thursday, December 13, 2007

Memories of Mary from Janice Birnbaum

My very first memory of Mary was in my early twenties (just a few years ago) playing softball with Athletes in Fellowship. Mary was June, Terry, John and Ann's biggest fan! It seemed she was always at their games, cheering them on. I knew her as "June's mom." (It was kind of cool to find out that June, Pam and I had gone to the same Jr. High school at the same time, but we didn't know each other.)

In 1983 I joined "Worship Community" at Calvary Costa Mesa, and Mary joined at the same time. We started going to the same home fellowship at Rita and Freeman Taylor's, and that just started a wonderful friendship.

The thing about Mary was, she was so easy to pick on! She was such a good sport, but often left herself open for relentless teasing. There were many of us who would oblige her in that area (Freeman Taylor, especially). Here are a few incidences that make me laugh just thinking about them:

She told us the story about being raised by Italian-speaking parents, and teaching Jeannie to say "lever mind" instead of "never mind." We used "lever mind" around her from then on! Another story she told us that cracks me up is when she had carpal tunnel syndrome, and her doctor offered to operate on both wrists for the price of one. She told us how hard it was for her to cope with both wrists in casts, and she had to wear a mu-mu because it was so difficult to use the bathroom. She had to hike up her dress with her casts and drip dry... Well, anyway...

We were all at Mimi's Cafe following some singing event, and it came time for her to order. She said "I'd like the chicken gumbol, please." Of course we all started giggling, and she wanted to know what was wrong. We said, "its gumbo, Mary - not gumbol." She went on for the next five minutes saying, "I said gumbol, not gumbol." I guess she couldn't hear the difference, but we made a big scene laughing so hard.

I was never a big fan of women's retreats, but Georgie Augustine and Mary convinced me to go on one. We were all roommates, along with Megan Worth. We stayed up almost all night just laughing. It was one of those times where absolutely everything was funny. So we finally got settled down, and Georgie got up off the rollaway bed to go to the bathroom. When she got back and sat down on the bed, the whole thing folded up on her and she was stuck. Well, you can imagine how that set us all off again, and Mary was laughing so hard she started making strange noises (if you know what I mean). We got in trouble the next day from Kay Smith for being so disruptive and not being good examples.

And then there were the trips to Mammoth. She swore to us that she made the best pizza. Well, for some reason she had to cook it on the bbq (I don't remember why) and didn't take into account the altitude. It was disastrous! Freeman Taylor bought a new video camera, and was taping everything the week we were there. When we got back home and watched the tape, every time Mary was in the picture, she was adjusting her shorts in the back. It was hilarious! Keith Wroblewski, Mary and I were in the pool together on one trip, and Keith had pretended to dump a glass of ice water on her head. She got out of the pool, got her glass, and was going to pretend to pour it down Keith's swim trunks. The only problem was, Keith's fly was fastened with velcro, so when she pulled on it, the whole thing came open. Without a hitch, Keith looked at her (while she was horrified) and said, "Mary, all you had to do was ask!" Mary was rolling around on the cement in her bathing suit, laughing so hard. We couldn't breath...

At one point we had a Pinochle club, and made the mistake several times of putting Mary and John Loperfido together as partners. Wow - two peas in a pod! "Who's turn is it? Who played what? What is trump? Who's turn is it again? Who's my partner? Oh, its my turn???" :-)

Mary, the Altieris, John Loperfido, Cec and I went to Jeannie's timeshare in Rosarito Beach one time before Cec and I were married, and we thought in our wisdom, that we'd change our money into pesos when we got down there. Yeah, we were idiots! Every time we'd eat in a restaurant, it would take us twice as long to figure out what we owed than it did to eat. Mary and I roomed together on that trip.

I remember when she moved into her new home in Portola Hills. She heard a strange noise, and looked outside only to find cows grazing in her yard. Well, what did she do about it? She called 911! Told the operator, "I have cows in my yard." The funniest part is when the operator asked her to describe them! When she moved to Leisure World, I remember her being so embarrassed, because "old people live there." She was always so young at heart, it didn't occur to her that they were in the same age group.

Throughout our time in Worship Community, any opportunity Mary had, she would be dancing, always keeping an eye out for Pastor Chuck. She was our dancing queen!

As a nail biter, I was always jealous of Mary's beautiful nails. They were always perfect, and try as she might, she just couldn't get me to stop my nasty habit.

That's about all the things I can think of off the top of my head, but all-in-all, I considered Mary not only to be a close friend, but a substitute Mom. I had such a bad relationship with my mother, I know God brought Mary in my life to fill that void. I could tell her anything! She had such wisdom and common sense, and I really appreciated that. Her walk with the Lord was inspiring. Even through all the health issues she had throughout the years, her relationship with Jesus was always solid. What a great witness! I feel really bad about not keeping in touch with her the last few years, but am confident in the knowledge that I'll see her again someday, where she'll be sick no more. I've been thinking about her all week being in heaven with her Lord, and Tony. Makes me cry happy tears.

Janice Birnbaum

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