A Celebration of Life was held for Mary Gavan at the Convivial Café on January 26.
Mary moved to False Creek South after a nursing career in Ontario. Living at Clarke Manor along Bucketwheel, she was an energetic contributor to the neighbourhood. A past president of the National Storytellers Association, she brought vitality, good spirits and a warm Scottish brogue to her Jane’s Walks, her volunteer activities at the Museum of Anthropology, and especially to her storytelling leadership.
I met Mary through the Vancouver storytelling community, and I quickly came to admire her skill as a storyteller. I was delighted to learn that she would be running a weekly story circle at the Convivial Cafe in Leg-In-Boot Square and attended it all summer. The theme was the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
Mary always strove to create a welcoming atmosphere and put other people before herself. When I sought advice to improve my storytelling, she gave me a wealth of feedback and insight, and even assigned homework. There are so many questions I still wish I could ask her.
Mary had a passion for people and for bringing people together. In addition to running the story circle, she was a founding member of BeNCH, an initiative to build community through the arts in the False Creek area. She also danced regularly, and was a certified yoga instructor.
As stories were traded at a memorial gathering in Mary’s honour, her long colourful skirts, her mentorship, and how she was a great stickler for punctuality, something which came up again and again was her attitude of “leaning into life.”
Mary died from a heart attack while travelling in India. Though we do not know the details of what happened, Mary clearly approached life as a great adventure to the very end.
-Seth Elza (False Creek Housing Co-op)
Ode to Mary Gavan
(read at the gathering)
We knew you such a few moments in time. O the beauty & kindness of thee. O gatherer of stories & storytellers your pleasure divine. O how we loved your beautiful mind. What a fine and joyful lass you were and how blessed we are from knowing you. May you rest in peace, dear Mary with joyous like-minded tellers of yarns. You have left footprints in our hearts Goodbye dear Mary, you are well loved. Shalom
– Shirley Harness (Fairview Manor)