Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where has Mary Travers Gone?

Peter, Paul and now, no Mary. She has died, at age 72, in Danbury Connecticut of complications of leukemia. I had the pleasure of seeing Paul Stookey in concert in Orlando FL and of meeting him later, but never had the pleasure of seeing all three together. No one ever will again.
"Mary Travers passed away today. After successful recovery from leukemia through a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, Mary succumbed to the side effects of one of the chemotherapy treatments.

We all loved her deeply and will miss her beyond words."
Statement by Peter Yarrow:
"In her final months, Mary handled her declining health in the bravest, most generous way imaginable. She never complained. She avoided expressing her emotional and physical distress, trying not to burden those of us who loved her, especially her wonderfully caring and attentive husband, Ethan. Mary hid whatever pain or fear she might have felt from everyone, clearly so as not to be a burden. Her love for me and Noel Paul, and for Ethan, poured out with great dignity and without restraint. It was, as Mary always was, honest and completely authentic. That's the way she sang, too; honestly and with complete authenticity. I believe that, in the most profound of ways, Mary was incapable of lying, as a person, and as an artist. That took great courage, and Mary was always equal to the task.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of my relationship with Mary Travers over the last, almost, 50 years, is how open and honest we were with each other, and I include Noel Paul Stookey in this equation. Such honesty comes with a price, but when you get past the hurt and shock of realizing that you're faulted and frequently wrong, you also realize that you are really loved and respected for who you are, and you become a better person. The trio's growth, our creativity, our ability to emerge over the years completely accepting of one another, warts and all, was a miracle. This gift existed, I believe, because of the music itself, which elicited from each of us the best of who we were. When we performed together, we gave our best to each other and to the audiences who came to hear us.

I have no idea what it will be like to have no Mary in my world, in my life, or on stage to sing with. But I do know there will always be a hole in my heart, a place where she will always exist that will never be filled by any other person. However painful her passing is, I am forever grateful for Mary and her place in my life."

Statement by Noel Paul Stookey:
"As a partner...she could be vexing and vulnerable in the same breath. As a friend she shared her concerns freely and without reservation. As an activist, she was brave, outspoken and inspiring - especially in her defense of the defenseless and, as a performer, her charisma was a barely contained nervous energy - occasionally (and then only privately) revealed as stage fright.

Sometimes frustratingly dismissive, I seldom heard her say she was sorry, yet she often displayed an immense generosity that would surprise even herself. Witty, politically savvy, she was the master/mistress of the cutting exit line. Once I was attempting to defend Ronald Reagan's educational policy. She interrupted me with 'Oh, for heaven's sake, do your homework!" turned on her heel and walked away. Need I say it turned out she was right?

As the relationships in the trio continued to shift and grow, Mary's insights and evolving comfort onstage drew her into the role of societal commentator and satirist; her genius revealed especially poking fun at the tumbling chaotic communications technology expanding around us.

Her illness softened her outlook considerably. Her work, her life and friends became more and more precious and friends, especially women friends, closed ranks in the later years, returning in kindnesses so much of that which Mary, their powerful feminine matriarch, had given them.

I am deadened and heartsick beyond words to consider a life without Mary Travers and honored beyond my wildest dreams to have shared her spirit and her career."
All of this is found at the Peter Paul and Mary website, including this:
"In lieu of sending flowers, for those who would like to contribute to a particular charity in memory of Mary, that information will be posted tomorrow after the family has an opportunity to make a decision."

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