Monday, February 20, 2006

Mary V. Merrill Passed Away

Ann Bain just emailed the IVMA committee to notify us of the passing of Mary Merrill. My first thought was: today is a sad day, a very sad day, for volunteerism, for us, for ME. In fact, I’ve been crying since then.

We had butted heads many times, on CyberVPM and privately. However, even in that period of time, I’ve never ceased to appreciate her sharp mind, lucidity and commitment to original thinking into this sector.

When we met at ICVA 2005, I was afraid of her. I was petrified thinking to have to present my paper in front of her, because I was afraid of her scrutiny (I’m always afraid of the people I respect, whether I agree with them or not). She looked at me for some minutes with a kind of “hmmm I wonder what a kind of animal she is” look in her face. Then, all of a sudden, she started smiling and nodding and didn’t stop. She made my day, that day. After all, you know, it wasn’t THAT easy to gain her approval (here she would dissent saying something like “Of course it is, all it takes is to have some originality” or something like that *grin*)...

We had several private exchanges since that time, always starting with some news related to volunteerism and ending up sharing something deeper. I understood that her being blunt wasn’t being inconsiderate of another person, quite the contrary. She just was honest, open, and direct. I realize, however, that some might have not had this impression because, like me before the conference, they haven’t known her (and here she’d say: “Why are you smoothing it over? Just say it like it is” LOL).

Mary was a hard worker, meticulous, exact. She was what Schon defined a reflective practitioner: a person that would reflect on her practice every day, dissecting and challenging it, thinking about how it could be better, refining it and then testing it on another reality. She would NEVER be afraid of amending her modus operandi, and that why she couldn’t stand who was afraid of making amends!!!! Mary used to read BUNCHES of research on volunteerism, to test her impressions about the profession and have an idea of where it would be going. To her, being professional meant being lucid. And she was very professional!

She was a very ethical person. She would NEVER write a person off because she disliked him/her, she had her ethical standards: if she didn’t like you but you met her standards then you would “qualify” for her help; if she liked you but you didn’t meet her standards then you wouldn’t qualify (and very likely she couldn’t like a person that didn’t meet those standards).

But Mary also was a very passionate woman, both in her private and professional life, picking up her battles (like she would suggest me to) but giving all she could to the ones she decided to choose. Whenever she was kind and full of regard for you, she meant it. She wouldn’t fake THAT under any circumstances (that’s where we butted heads… I do fake gentleness with acquaintances).

Mary has helped me many times in sorting out my ideas, understanding my feelings but especially deciding which conduct to take, even emailing back and forth during weekends. Just yesterday I was going to fire her an email about a discussion on ARNOVA group that she was missing.. :(

From today one, Mary will not be here with us. Yet, we so desperately need Mary…. Let’s all be a little more like Mary, in terms of out-of-the-box thinking, reading up research, opening up to constant review of our practices and YES, directness. That will also mean NOT rushing to eulogize her with "nice words" that are not felt deeply within. She would NOT want that, she was not a "let's-all-be-nice" person and would not want to be eulogized as such or as a sum of her accomplishments.

Au Revoir, Mary, you will be as greatly missed as greatly appreciated.

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Blogger Buchamma said...

Thank u Rosanna for visiting Bipolarity and shaing in our recovery to affirm and celebrate life.

I would like to record here the recent passing of Evie Bear, an active member of bipolar support groups and a psychiatric nurse herself.


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