I didn’t have to think much about finding a subject for my first H&Q post of the new month. She was waiting for me in the obituaries of the State Journal-Register. Walt Whitman proclaims he “sings” about everyman in his poetry. I am not so big hearted. “Everyman” keeps “The Simpsons” and “The Family Guy” and “Two and a Half Men” on the air. I write not about everyman; I write of good people whose charm and gifts to me and great minds and beautiful faces remain vibrant and important in my life. They remain a part of me despite spats that ended relationships. (Everyone is entitled to forgivable “bad days,” though not many agree with me about that.) Knowing them inspires me to tell you about them. And thus, and so I “sing” of Mary Ann Travis.
I had been out of school, graduated with my MA and doing okay when a fellow from school, who remembered my background in little college theatrical productions asked me to play a major support character in a Moliere play “The Imaginary Invalid” an SSU drama prof named Guy (pronounced Gee with a hard G) Roman was directing at the downtown campus theater. I met with the cast and director, and I was aboard. Among the cast was one Mary Ann Travis whom I was recently divorced from her husband and an incredible person. We became close in the best way and others as well in the course of the production, but it came to nothing, thanks to a falling out at the party given the night we closed.
Decades later, I met a fellow poet at Capitol Caffe who was living with a terrific person named Mary Ann Travis. In a week or so, the three of us did coffee. Mark, Mary Ann the same and moi. It was good conversation, no discomfort anywhere, and I wished them well.
The year John Kerry ran for president, we connected again. By this time I had met one of her past husbands through another circle of friends, and knowing him and his wife had enriched my life. And for about a spring, summer and fall, Mary Ann would again do likewise. I spent time at her home and was absolutely astounded by how meticulously she maintained it, a rural picture postcard house, the kind people like me dream of sharing. Again, it was not to be. The precision outlook on her life which sustained her incredible attention to her home did not “translate” well to controlling me. We spoke for the last time election night 2000.
“What do you think we’re all going to do now, now, now that Kerry missed the boat?” she asked over the phone.
“I don’t have the foggiest,” I replied. “God help us everyone.” and we shared mutual best wishes and goodbyes, little knowing, little caring that we would never speak again.
She was a lady, generous of time and patient when it was important to me. She gave as freely as she received. She was second lead in “The Imaginary Invalid,” and in looking back on some soft sweets that have affirmed who I am with their significant regard, she remains second lead in the stage play I call “Life.”
All best to her, her kids and family! We were all lucky to have known her.
Live long . . . . . and proper.