Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mary Rock

   This is what I remember of Mary Rock.
   Her mother came to Canada from England in 1912. She sailed exactly one week before the Titanic.
   Mary was born in 1920 and she lived her early years on Kettle Valley Road East, very near the river.
   At some point she moved to Midway. She lived in the old house which ironically is right across from Parkview Manor, where Mary has lived for eleven years now. (That old house of hers had a covered-front veranda then. Mary’s balcony in the Manor looks directly over her old house.)
   Her parents were divorced during her childhood, which was unusual for that time.
   Mary’s father worked at Cominco in Trail
   Around fourteen years of age, or perhaps fifteen, she went to England for some schooling.
   She went by herself and had to transfer trains in Alberta. Alberta Child Services sent someone to sit with her while she waited for the train.
   This upset Mary very, very much!
   “I was going across Canada and then to England by myself and they felt they had to send someone to sit with me for 3 hours!”
   It offended her independence.
   Skipping ahead to her young adult years, she worked for Cunningham Drugs in Vancouver as a bookkeeper.
   The Second World War began at this time.
   In 1943, Mary decided to join the Army.
   When asked why she joined at this time she replied, “I thought I’d give them a little help to push them over the finish line.”
    The Army sent her to Saskatchewan for boot camp. She remembers, “Some of the girls weren't used to getting up early in the morning.”
   After 3 weeks she was sent to her posting. She was assigned to Jericho Beach in Vancouver to be a bookkeeper! 
   There she took care of the telephone records for the Army. 
   Shortly after the war was over, Mary went to Normal School in Victoria. After one year, she received her teacher certification.
   She then went to teach at Remac in the BC interior, not to far from Nelway on the US border.
   Much, much later she moved into a house on the corner of the  Bridesville-Rock Creek Road and Highway 3 near the Rock Creek store
   She continued to teach when needed locally.
   In 1991 she moved onto some acreage on Hulme Creek Road.
   The sign on her driveway said “Mary Rock, 13 dogs and 3 cats live here”.
   Later in the decade she began to go blind and deaf
   Remaining fiercely independent, three things come to mind.
   She walked twice a day down the mountain and picked up a quarter round of wood and  carried it back to her wood-pile for splitting, eventually moving three entire trees. If she ever met a bear on her steep climb, she would neither have heard it nor seen it. The bear wouldn't have cared very much either.
   In the Autumn she usually dug two graves in case some of her dogs didn’t make it through the winter.
   Lastly, Mary managed over the years to pull up all the knapweed on her land. It never stood a chance!
   Around 2005, Mary moved into the Parkview Manor and there began a new round of adventures. If you ever went for coffee at 7 in the morning, before the Manor was open, you would see an endearing sight. Mary would be the first person downstairs and would come out of the elevator with her walker and proceed until she hit the wall. Then she would either go to the left and grope her way along the wall until she came to the cafeteria, or go right and find her way to the front door where would let you in. She was seemingly quite helpless, but still very independent.
   One time Mary went to Vancouver on the old Kettle Valley Railroad. The train derailed between Summerland and Princeton. Mary said she never knew about it. She had slept through the incident.
   In a generic sort of way, Mary is asleep again. Mary Rock died last night at 6pm in the Grand Forks Hospital complex.