That's Mary Ann Foley up front on a literary walk in Dublin in 2001. Mary Ann came along and took my class, John Bond's intro class, Don Bullens's photography class (Don took the photo above), and Cindy's poetry class. She was a delight. She hadn't yet written much fiction. She was a trooper, climbing off the launch and up the rocks on our trip out to the Eye of Ireland. Laughed off her difficulties getting around. She was tireless, curious, and passioante about this new creative life she was starting in on. She had a story that she began in my class that I still remember: A husband has decided that he wants to take a photography class,but he's afraid his wife will feel threatened or hurt, so every week when he drives off to school, he tells her he's going to a bar with friends.
I just got an email from a friend of Mary Ann's with some bad news:
Dr. Dufresne....My name is Geri Pastore...I am a friend of the LATE MaryAnn Foley! She was your student a few years ago!..She was crazy about you...as are other friends that have taken your class! My reason for writing to you is a sad story! MaryAnn died last fall! Her story is unbelievable! She had become ill . . . became incoherent . . . hospitalized . . ..had no WILL, or family to contact! While she was incapacitated, the local bureaucracy (the unknown they) CONDEMNED her house . . . SOLD it and all of her possessions! Upon learning the fact that everything that she worked for and owned, free and clear, had been sold, she DIED OF A BROKEN HEART! As you can tell from this email I am not one of your students !Although I would enjoy being one! I have written some thoughts about MaryAnn...and I am hoping to put them on the net . . . in hopes of warning others of this tragedy! It seems that one must have written "Heirs" in their wallet at all time! Imagine! Because she thought so much of you....I am sending you a couple of emails. They are just thoughts about her life.Try not to grade me . . . I am Girl-Writer 101! I am also older than dirt ! I just find it so sad, and unfair, that I hope to inform a few of the people that she admired ! (You were in the top ten )!
DIARY from the DEAD
Mary Ann had only recently started to enjoy her life. She had made friends with many lady friends who enjoyed similar skills in the art fields. They would all meet and write stories, poems, and they enjoyed critiquing them. She belonged to a camera club. She had purchased a very good professional camera. She discovered that she had a true gift for seeing the beauty in the art of photography. She had a wonderful touch for poetry. Her poems were of award quality. She bought a white S U V, and a new better quality camera. She took a couple of short trips to photograph scenes in Arizona, Nevada. Her shots were good. Her life was finally starting to be what she had hoped it would be, but until now, never was. She still lived alone. Her Northern family were a distant past.) She had tried to forget their constant taunts. She became very good friends with a lovely family a mother, with two teenage daughters.One of the girls was becoming a champion swimmer. Mary Ann thought of them as her family. She called them her mom and goddaughters and had intended to leave them all that she had saved in her now rather long life. But, things started to take on that dark edge of her old life. But she fought that old lonely lifestyle. She had volunteered to teach wayward teenage students. (Others would not try to teach them). Mary Ann had a way with them and even influenced a couple of them to get into poetry. Imagine! These kids were considered hopeless, but not when MaryAnn taught them. But then her house was broken into, and she had to buy all new windows at the cost of $750.00 per window. (She had to dip into her savings from her retirement.) The thieves had wiped out everything in her house; they stole everything . . . all of her camera equipment, her TV, the computer. They left everything in the house in shambles! She was absolutely
brokenhearted, had been a good neighbor, a good friend! She knew that they were neighborhood kids. Hum, doesn't that sound innocent . . . just neighborhood kids. . . so innocent sounding. M/A was such a good and generous person. She took special food to a friend in an After-Care Facility. She helped at her church. She cooked for others who needed help!And now she must start all over. Her memories of her father and mother were gone. They took everything. But she was strong and started over, for a while
She started to feel rather poorly, but, like most of us, thought that she would be fine. She was not! She became incoherent, and a neighbor called the EMS ambulance, and she was taken to a hospital. Because she was incoherent and had no relatives that could speak for her, "the powers that be" (whoever they are!) had her house of over thirty years declared uninhabitable. They condemned it and sold it right out from under her. She was sent to an after-care facility and recovered, but when she learned that everything that she had worked for all of her life had been sold, everything, all her life possessions gone, her heart was so broken that she died.
I am telling this story so that this tragedy will not happen to others. Make sure that you have a "will" and alsoanassigned guardian. Carry all important information with you. Protect yourself so that Mary Ann's life will not have been in vain!
P/S.....The most heart-piercing part of the story of Mary Ann is that by some fluke of the local bureaucracy, they allowed all of her worldly possessions everything that she had worked for all of her life, including the small house that her parents owned, free and clear, all of that was lost! Everything! Everything was lost to her. Take a guess: who do you think figured out some way of getting all of her life's possessions? Yep! The nasty cousins from the north!
Blessings, Geri Flynn Pastor
We miss you, Mary Ann