Thoughts about Marie Ė March 15, 2008


We are gathered here today to honor my dear departed wife, Marie Piretti Gardner. One way we are doing that is to share our individual personal remembrances Ö those events and times when Marie was part of our lives. It turns out that in her sixty years of life she touched many lives around the world. Tributes to her will be held later in different geographical areas in the USA, and fond thoughts have come from many people who knew her well in Europe and Asia. There is a pink scrapbook created by very dear friends in California that you may want to look at today to learn about some of her assignments and tributes from others.

Well, this is the here and now, and many of you here today knew Marie much earlier in her life than me. This is your time today to share memories and moments you enjoyed with Marie from her teenage years through early adulthood. My memories started when Marie and I began dating back in 1978. She was thirty, and I might add a very lovely 30. One of her former bosses at DuPont told me in no uncertain terms that I was very lucky to be marrying Marie because she, and I quote, "is a very ripe plum!"

I can think of no better way to describe Marie, for besides being passionately in love with her I discovered that the person inside was truly wonderful, and indeed remarkable in her abilities, caring about others and energy for having lots of fun. She was a stepmother and later step-grandmother par excellance, but Iíll let the children and grandchildren tell you about that. She made my life exciting and interesting with her dependable good nature and constant readiness to search for and enjoy new adventures. What a terrific planner! And wow, what a cook!

Marie was considerate of everyone. The things she could not abide were laziness and selfishness. She had a strong sense of fairness in all relationships and she gave of herself willingly to the benefit of all. There were some times when she had to sever relationships, which she did in entirety, when confronted with reliably inconsiderate behaviors from those who lacked her high values for hard work and fairness.

Early in our relationship I was a conservative republican. Marie was a liberal democrat. I find it most interesting how we formed an amalgam of rights and wrongs and good and bad and wound up wholly politically aligned. I was no longer a conservative republican. She was no longer a liberal democrat. But one would never call us moderates in any way. We were far too intelligent to accept any binary view of life or progress. This is but one example of the intimate meeting of our minds on virtually all important life topics. My confidence in Marieís intelligence, experience and good will was something wonderful beyond belief, and she demonstrated the same level of trust and respect towards me. We loved diving into most any topic and often talked long into the night with passion and mutual understanding.

Did we ever disagree? You bet we did. Each of us was fundamentally strongly independent, we often didnít see eye to eye on how to do things, and Iím sure Linda Lange and Morrie Shaffer will attest to that truth when they speak today. Our strengths and weaknesses were beautifully complementary, with delightful overlap areas. But the title "Bickersons" comes to mind as we were both convinced of our personal individual superior thinking. Ah, well Ö And we had a few financial differences of opinion too. Indeed, Marieís penchant to shop, i.e. spend lots of money, was legendary Ö and that is yet another topic I will leave to others today, other than to admit that I was secretly delighted to watch her have fun. She eclipsed Imelda Marcos.

Marie was the wellspring of all things beautiful in and around our various homes. I learned early on to let that area of life in her capable hands. We often talked about choices and virtually always agreed, except of course when I was wrong. I was content, indeed very happy, to make things for her, to fix things and to provide her safe transit through life in work, home, vacation and fun areas.

Marie was so important to my happiness that I put myself at risk to ensure her safety. Nothing could have felt more natural. She was so wonderful that loving and protecting her were my highest goals. After all, she was my very best friend and my confidant in all matters. Life threw a few curves our way but never did anything shake our foundation. My trust in Marie was complete, and she surely earned that trust.

Marie was also brave and strong in the face of often lonely and solitary challenges to achieve success and to avert disaster. Her brain tumor was simply the last of the major challenges in her life. She met all challenges with commitment to doing what was right and unbelievable courage and stamina and she simply delivered great results regardless of the power of whatever opposed her efforts. Her passion to do the very best was also legendary. Finally she had to let go, and that was a tragedy beyond belief as she didnít let go from her fight against her brain tumor until she literally could no longer breathe. She was a fighter of such determination that I will forever stand in awe of her for the example she set for all of us.

I need to close now so I donít use too much of our precious time today. Let others of you speak, and donít worry about being formal or prepared. Just let your feelings flow and share with us. Marie would be very upset if anyone held back their feelings or their knowledge of things funny and not so funny. This is about Marie! Letís have at it!

And thanks again to all of you for being here.