LOOSE ENDS: Missing Mary

Dolly Viscardi
Girls, I’m going to tell you.”
Mary Hossack would begin with a sweep of her hand before she joined in the conversation. The gesture conveyed her dry sense of humor, as if to say, “Go on, I can top that!”
Mary passed away five days before Christmas. An observer of community life from her front porch two blocks from Meeker’s Main Street, she kept up on the local doings and always had something interesting to say about the various happenings. Her tongue-in-cheek pronouncements were usually tinged with a little sass, yet genuine interest.
She proclaimed the unusual honor of being one of the few people left in the community who had been here “forever,” in that she never moved away after growing up. Claiming the years of experience proudly, the 98-year-old enjoyed participating in life as fully as she was able, even when she no longer could leave her house. Some days she’d have a steady line of visitors throughout the day and I joked with her about taking a number.
Mary considered herself blessed. While she watched her circle of family and friends get smaller, she continued to be the hub of the circle. She kept celebrating birthdays long after the passing of her husband and two sons and continued to take pleasure in the lives of her huge, caring extended family. After she became housebound, she kept up with the outside world through her constant visitors and regular phone calls.
Years ago, when I first got to know Mary, I was new to town. She and Don would be sitting on their porch when I walked by on my way to the post office. She always called out a greeting and invited me up to sit on the porch with them. She did this with most everyone who passed her house each day. I soon discovered that like most natives of Meeker, Mary seemed to be related to most everyone and she found my view of the world outside Meeker new and different.
Her care and concern about those around her kept her life interesting, so that when she was struggling against the constant health problems that plagued her during this past year, she was able to keep her mind off her own difficulties. Long after she was confined to her recliner and then her bed, she pondered the weekly grocery store offerings as she felt she needed to keep the larder orderly and well-stocked. “Go look in the kitchen!” She’d say before I sat down to read the weekly newspaper to her, whether it was the fruit or vegetables someone brought her or a shelf of freshly canned relishes or jams.
Over the years I could count on Mary to call and make sure I made it home safely. She’d say so seriously, “Someone’s got to keep an eye on you.”
When she was described by most people as “sweet,” they mentioned the tang of her personality as well. Each time I would head off to take care of the grandchildren, Mary would say, “Well, I sure will miss you.” The tables have turned, as now I find myself saying each time I walk by her house, “I sure miss you.”