9.03.2010

mary kate

Countless things spool through my mind when I think of Mary Kate. Today, the day after she died, I’m thinking a lot about that; that she died. More frames reel, and something keeps coming back around: her hands. Mary Kate’s were working hands. Holding books as she read to everyone’s kids, the fragile juggling of double-pointed needles turning out endless beautiful wool socks for her family. Hands that were happiest in the dirt of her gardens.
              My woolgathering thoughts move to a tree in her front yard, some sort of Scottish tree that just doesn’t grow in this country, but some old Scot who’d owned the house before her grafted it onto a tree stump that grows happily here. It’s an amazing tree. A climber like none I’ve ever seen. As a tomboy growing up in the woods of the Catskill Mountains I’d clambered my share of limbs, and none of them came close to the perfect climbingness of that tree.
              Mary Kate was never not making something with her hands. When I was filling plastic eggs with store-bought chocolate, she was creating little Easter animal figures out of wool and felt and embroidery thread. At Christmas she gave me a tiny baby elf of wool, sleeping in its walnut-shell cradle. She made the kinds of things that take your breath with their delicate sweetness. Each of her four children has a collection of these beautiful treasures crafted individually with her love and her hands.
              Her gardens are unparalleled beauty. They are perfect cottage gardens of herbs, perennials, strawberries and fruit trees. Some have tiny stepping stone paths, others are built on little hillsides; terraced steps of perfection. She knew exactly what each plant was, and what it needed to thrive. She knew this about her children too.
              I’ll remember Mary Kate with her hands in the dirt, and now the dirt will receive her back, and if I were dirt I’d welcome her home.


14 comments:

  1. Monique, thank you for sharing this beautiful memorial with us. It is one of my favorite things you have written.

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  2. It strikes me that we have so much pressure to live "big" and this essay is about the beauty of that which we can hold small and close, an awareness of wonder in such a very personal way. Thank you for sharing your memories of this beautiful person. I'm certain it brings great comfort to those who knew Mary Kate.

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  3. I didn't know Mary Kate, but I find it comforting that you have understood her, valued her unique gifts and contributions, and created something for her. This post is a beautiful and natural act of reciprocity -- the kind that makes life worth living.

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  4. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Thank you.

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  6. It was like having our own version of Tasha Tudor, watching her craft the beautiful things she created. I tried, with my engineering approach, to copy some of her creations - they were inferior - may have been made the same way, but lacked her perfection and the way she gave them soul. At least I knew right away I would never have a garden like hers - and just appreciated hers all the more as she described the plants with their latin names that went in one ear and out my other...lovely, smart, funny, wonderful lady who will be missed.

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  7. A lovely tribute to an unparalleled woman.

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  8. So beautiful, Monique. Each time I read this, alone or with others, the last sentence grows blurry through moist eyes.

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  9. incredibly beautiful, thanks Monique

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  10. Monique, this is so beautiful. I feel like I knew your wonderful friend. So sorry for your loss. xo

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  11. Monique - There just aren't words to describe how much I appreciate this tribute to MK. It's gorgeous and perfectly on. LDK

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  12. Gosh. Thank you for this. I think of her and her family often. P W-S

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  13. Green from crocus, daff and tulip bulbs are just beginning to peek through the ground here. A. and I spent hours cleaning the beds and making room for the plants. Thoughts of MK danced through my head... missing her.

    LDK

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