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Memorial for
Mary Schweitzer Baker

Born in 1918, Mary was my mother.  She was a special ed teacher for several years and earned her Master's Degree in education when she was over 50.

A talented singer, she enjoyed singing with the church choir.  She had done many types of art in her life including writing, pastels, sculpture, poetry and photography. Mom was also highly intelligent and I never tired of listening to her  - she was a font of information!  She also was a willing listener when I wanted to tell her about something.  She and I would sometimes, when neither of us could sleep at night, sing songs together and read poetry.  Her favorite book was "101 favorite poems" a paperback which was well used in our household. Mary also was a talented poet herself.

We who dwell
In a prison cell,
Know full well
The feel of hell

Day by day
Unabating gray
Colors the way
Of the place we stay

Blessed Death
Draw out our breath

And high we'll fly
To a sunny blue sky

The hiss of bliss
Naught amiss
Banish tears in eyes
Forever dry.

An Agnostic, Mary never was given a testimony of the existence of God but she searched in many religions and throughout her life, was a member of several churches including Hindu, Protestant and Catholic.  At the end of her life, she was attending a Lutheran church but the last time she was hospitalized, (infection at the site of her hip joint replacement) she told the nurses that she had never "believed" in God.

All her life, she struggled with a borderline personality disorder and clinical depression, both a result of a troubled childhood and parental abuse when she was young in addition to being bi-polar. 

She also struggled with obesity and believed that it will kill her early in life, an idea not unattractive to someone with a clinical depression.  However at the age of 68 years old and weighing about 270 lbs at 5'3" when she was still going strong, she decided to end her life with a pistol.  Together with my Dad for 33 years, she married Jack Baker some time after my Dad passed and remained married for several years until Jack ended his life.

A talented person, and charming and clever, she had difficulty reaching out to those she loved and could be difficult to live with.  She said herself, that she was like the "girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead - when I'm good, I'm VERY GOOD and when I'm bad, I'm horrid!"

Her first suicide attempt was when she was 17 years old.  She had written the following around that time:

"The wind is blowing hard,
The clouds are made of pearl.
I walk along the street,
A solitary girl."

As I age, myself, I realize that the greatest gift our mother gave us was to not commit suicide until she was certain my sister and I were well established in life and adult. Perhaps this, because she had experienced her own mother committing suicide when she was 9 years old and wanted to save her children from that. So she endured the torment of mental and physical illness to put her children first priority.

Thus, I am certain that despite her agnosticism, her bravery in living as best she could, gave her what Catholics call, "A Baptism of desire" and that she is in Heaven now, freed of her sick body and enjoying life with God and hopefully, praying for us.

My mother was wise beyond her years. For example, she knew a lot about nutrition before most dieticians even knew what nutrition was. Even now, I often remember (and quote) the little pearls of wisdom that she shared with us.

She also, managed to get a book published: THE SHORT CHANGE GAME (Pub. 1993) The book is still listed on Amazon but is now out of print.

She left no note at her passing but only a tape in the cassette machine paused on the song "I'm so lonely I could die".

Here is an article my mother wrote about death: "Death is not all it's cracked up to be". She wrote this 6 years before her death.

Dear Mommie, I love you and hope to see you again when I cross the "Rainbow Bridge"!

Album of photos of Mary Schweitzer Baker

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