Mary Randolph: Dancing My Heart Out
March 28, 1944 – October 31, 2011
|Mary Anne Randolph knew her mind. And although we’ve lost her very big personality from our midst, we might take comfort in the fact that she called the shots to the end of her life.
Some who knew her well might even say, with hindsight, that when Mary asked for a piece of her friend Vickie’s birthday cake at a recent celebration party, she knew it could be her last chance to savor the texture and sweetness she could no longer digest. Mary is gone and Vickie, along with many at MDSC, are grieving the loss of this gentle and poetic, yet indomitable, spirit who started out life with many challenges. But with parents who tucked her under their wings for 34 years where she was nurtured until her father’s death in 1978, she knew love. Her warmth and connectedness came out in her many verses:
The dog hangs around all the time
and he always likes me.
I don’t know why he likes me.
When it is cold, I like him to sleep
by me and keep me warm.
The dog is always laughing and
keeps me happy. He is always
listening to the radio and watching it so it doesn’t
I have a lace cap I wear to bed
at night. I need a jacket
to zip around me.
Mary had a sparkling countenance. She talks about her joy with and affection for so many things in her writings. As her body tired, you could still sense a deeper understanding of life in her eyes. Toni Taylor, Kathy Harmeyer and many others who knew her don’t need to read this memorial message because Mary’s spirit will always be remembered. Just ask them; they are not shy about their affection for Mary and the affect she had on them.
Kyle Dumas at Opportunity Resources Inc. who was once her Direct Support Professional recently said that “Mary had a healthy sense of humor that allowed her to crack jokes and sing songs spontaneously despite her declining abilities. Confirming what we knew, Mary was one of those few people who had an astoundingly resilient character and she wanted to help others see their blessings. Here is a quote from some of Mary’s many writings: “I don’t like sitting in this wheelchair, but I have to because I had infantile paralysis when I was younger. And if you don’t know what that is…I had polio, so I am stuck in this chair. The polio affected my legs. They are weak, and I am unable to walk or stand. I love dancing and have no problem dancing my heart out. I have been enjoying dance class since it first began. I work at a very special place for the handicapped. I am very happy I was able to find this place. It’s fun and it helps me support myself. So, in closing I am telling you this so you might possibly read this and appreciate life a little more.”
Years ago when she could speak well enough, she expressed the wish for another life that she liked to hear read back to her and it goes like this:
I Have A Dream
I have a dream to walk around without a wheelchair or crutches
and to wake up in the morning and get out of bed by myself.
I dream I
could become a vet and save leopards and donkeys
and cows and sheep and especially horses.
I would have three dogs: 1 brown lab named Samantha
1 border collie named Lassie
1 chihuahua named Sue
And three cats: 1 black boy named Bob
1 white one named Angel
I’d live in Arizona with four adopted children, AIDS babies or drug babies, to give them a chance at life. I’d name them Pauly, Cathy, Cynthia, and Mary Jr.
I have come to know Mary only within the past year. I regret not having known her better. During a big raffle, Mary joined me with her closest DSP at Rosauer’s one Friday in May 2011 to help sell raffle tickets. She sold 6 raffle tickets almost as soon as she arrived. People were easily drawn to her quiet, self-assured presence. And she was a determined person. That day, she was bundled against the blustery weather and had little time because she had to return to her home in order to take the scheduled medications; still she sold the record number of tickets of any client during the event. Each new sale brought her pride of accomplishment. There was Mary smiling and shining through her physical discomforts; undaunted by life’s shadow. She had treasures to share with us, all.
By Rebecca McClellan