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  1. I’ve been struggling with what to say, as this still doesn’t seem real. I have known Mary since 2003, when we worked across the parking lot at Gift of Life. We have paralleled each other in our careers ever since. We worked at American Adoptions together and then ultimately at Heart of Adoptions. While she was my supervisor for a good many of those years, she was really just a friend who signed off on my stuff and every now and again had to redirect me. I had the honor of walking she and Joe out of the hospital with Elle, as they became parents for the first time. I also had the pleasure of being present on the day when she and Joe officially took Stephanie home. She loved those girls and loved being a mother! Joe, don’t ever doubt how much she also loved you! Mary and I have shared so many laughs, and kept each other sane at work when things got hairy. She was always so thoughtful and generous with her gifts and tokens of appreciation. For our wedding she gifted us a turkey roaster, as I know she knew how much I love hosting Thanksgiving and now she will be with us in memory every year for that meal. When I learned the family was moving to VA, I immediately asked if she was taking the dining room table with her. She said she was not and it was mine if I wanted it! When we went to pick it up, she shared how happy she was that it was going home with us and that our family could start making memories around it, just as hers had. On the Friday before she passed, I had the pleasure of talking to her on the phone for about 90 minutes. We talked about everything from work to family to life in general. She shared parenting tips with me and items I needed to be sure to add to my baby registry that were very helpful to she and Joe with the girls. I am so thankful we had that call, as I had not really talked to her in months. I will forever value our friendship, being accepted as a member of her family, and I will never forget the proper usage of the word “whom.” ❤️

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  2. At our first focus group three years ago, Mary came (she actually came in place of someone else, so we had never met her). She walked in and sat down at the table with that smile, part wise, part mischevious, that let you know something good was about to be said. She proceeded to make us all laugh and cry with the stories she shared. She was real, she was compassionate, she was funny and we fell in love with her that morning. She became a mentor to us, offering calm and insightful guidance, always leaving us moved and light of heart. She invited us to the FAC conference (we told her we weren’t ready, but you don’t really say no to Mary) and introduced us to your wonderful FAC community. Over these years, whenever we had a question or wanted to run an idea by her, Mary emailed, called or met with us right away, no matter how busy she was, and she was always busy. So many times, we would get off the phone with Mary or leave a meeting and say to each other, “How much do we love that woman?” We did. We do. We will hold Mary in our hearts always.

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  3. I remember the kind, thoughtful and creative gifts Mary would assemble for the staff of Heart of Adoptions to encourage them and show her appreciation. One, in particular, was a small tackle box that she filled with assorted fish-related candies and treats. She tied a buoy with a ribbon and attached a fish-shaped notecard with a clever quote about being a great catch. I commented that I would like to do that for my children and the next day, she had brought in leftover boxes and buoys to give me for them! I was surprised and so thankful for that and my children loved their gifts!! She even took the time to learn about the roles of each of us at the Law Firm of Jeanne T. Tate and sent various “Feel Good Friday” messages to encourage us. Each time I stood in her office, I would look at the pictures she had of Elle and Stephanie and it was clear they were her sunshine. Mary will be missed and it is my hope that each person she touched will pay it forward and reach out with compassion, kindness and encouragement to others as she did.

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  4. My sweet Mary. I miss you so much. I am not sure that I have even come to grips with this. The world just doesn’t seem the same without the light that you have always brought to this earth. I have not slept one night since you have physically left us. I am always either crying or laughing thinking of you. To share our memories would be absolutely impossible because fortunately we had so many. Our friendship was so beyond our work together in the Council and in the adoption arena. You have always been my partner in crime. We always had each other’s backs. I realized that you and I have only actually yelled at each other one time. I remember yelling at you because I could not believe that you had the audacity to allow Elle & Stephanie to eat KFC chicken in the car with the Man United GK Jersey that you ordered and had autographed by David Dejea. I could not believe that the chicken sat in the car for over an hour stinking up the car and Jersey! And then not to make matters worse, you opened the package with your greasy fried chicken hands and actually breathed on it! I was so mad at you. But, you yelled back at me this year. You were so mad about the honorary award that we had crafted for you. Oh Lord- you were so ticked. The funny thing is that you were more mad because it was deducted from the FAC conference budget. That was you Mary. You were always more concerned about taking away from others. May your soul rest in peace my dear friend.

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