My friend Mary Morgan died on April 13, 2021. Before she died, she lived. She definitely lived - a rich and bold life. She was loved by many many people, including me.
I wrote about our friendship here. Here is her obituary. In true Mary form, it was written by Mary herself. I'm publishing it here because Mary wasn't one for the mainstream, so I'm not sure it will show up in a newspaper. I was encouraged to share her words. Maybe you can learn from them too.
Mary encourages donations to Callanish Society - which is an organization important to me too - Callanish is dedicated to creating a healing space for people who have been irrevocably changed by cancer.
I miss Mary very much.
Mary Elizabeth Morgan’s Obituary
On April 13, 2021, Mary Elizabeth Morgan, friend, sister, companera and aunt passed away at the age of 64. She had the cancer Multiple Myeloma, and after deciding to no longer continue her long battle, she chose to cross over with close family and friends present.
Mary was born on March 15, 1957 in Toronto, Canada. She lived in Toronto and Thornhill with her family before embarking on adventure and social justice work around the globe. In 1974, she left home at the tender age of 17 to live among the Cunas, an indigenous nation living in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. From there, she travelled into South America on a banana boat and lived on $2 a day. She returned home in 1976 a changed woman. Mary worked for Outward Bound in northern Ontario, hopped freight trains as her travel mode around North America, paddled from Lake Superior to James Bay, crewed on a yacht across the Caribbean after hitchhiking to Panama from Canada, spent a winter with a dog team in the North West Territories and lived in Yellowknife. She won a CIDA Professional Award and started a women’s bank in the jungle, making $100 loans accessible to women in Guatemala during the war, then lived and worked in post-war Bosnia. Her profession as an Economic Development Consultant took her to Afghanistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Morocco, South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Bangladesh. Mary loved life, was fascinated by culture and inspired by humanity even in the most harsh of environments. Mary was committed to social justice and attempted to assist the most vulnerable in creating viable markets where they could participate as suppliers and consumers.
Mary’s education was shaped by feminism and the women’s movement. Her formal education included a Masters in Adult Education at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and focused on transformative education. She translated her thesis into Spanish and gifted several copies to the library in Flores, Peten in Guatemala where the research was done. Making knowledge accessible, as well as acknowledging people’s contribution to creating knowledge, was very important to Mary. In 2007, she received a scholarship to Bath University in England to do her PhD where she was looking at how race and gender shaped markets. Unfortunately, health issues forced Mary to withdraw in 2014. This was one of Mary’s regrets in her life. Mary’s health began to deteriorate in 2010, which started her on a healing path with plant medicine, shamanic practitioners, and meditation. This work guided her response to her cancer diagnosis in 2016. When two months of chemotherapy only made the cancer grow, she stopped treatment, travelled across Canada to see people she loved, and then moved to the small town of Powell River in 2017 to be close to nature and to live in community. She didn’t want her life to be medicalized--she wanted to live. The last years of Mary’s life were joyful and engaging instead of feeling controlled by the medical establishment. Powell River became Mary’s sanctuary and sustenance.
Mary was preceded in death by her birth mother Lloyne, stepmother Nancy, father Jack and sister Tracy. She is survived by siblings Kim, Jo, Margaret and Joseph. Although never married, because lesbians were not permitted to marry for most of Mary’s life, Mary knew that family was not just the family of origin, but comprised of community and soul connections with friends. She had a huge chosen family that spans the globe. Mary carries you all in her heart.
Her celebration of life will take place on Saturday June 26, 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Callanish Society based in Vancouver which does retreats for people with cancer and assists them in the healing work of the soul.
We ask that you honour her by standing up for that in which you believe.