A Life Well Lived

Mary Hutton began to play the piano by ear when she was a pre-schooler. Not surprisingly her first piece was Mary Had a Little Lamb! It was the beginning of a lifelong journey in which music became ingrained in the core of her being. As the 60 years of Mary’s life went by, her faith developed into an inner passion, the “pilot light” of her life. Music was the outward expression.

Another side of Mary was her nursing work at Oshawa General Hospital in the 1980’s. There she was part of the hospital’s first palliative care team under the direction of Dr. Gillian Gilchrist. There, as a pioneer in her field , Mary’s heart of compassion was deepened in the face of death. She was an outstanding caregiver to the dying and their families.

Fast forward to the last three months of her life – she was admitted as a patient to the palliative care unit of Brampton Civic Hospital. It was there she died of secondary cancer of the lung on April 26th, 2009. To be on the receiving end of palliative care was not easy for one who was an expert in the field herself. But she was sustained by her deep faith – a faith which allowed her to be very frank, authentic and open in the midst of her agony and slow death.

In a wonderful way the strand of music and compassion came together in her final year. Inspired by her faith, she gave birth to a number of original worship songs, which she recorded on a self-published CD entitled You Have Carried Me. It is available at [email protected]

With weakened voice and shortened breath she miraculously completed this final legacy just two months before her death. - a testimony to her spiritual strength and courage. Even as she was dying she experienced the birth of musical creativity.

She entrusted to me the words she wanted for her tombstone: “God is our song. And we will sing forever!”

As a postscript, the following is a reflection Mary wrote in 1990, two years after her brother Roger died of AIDS.

Grief - - The Road To Live Again

Grief takes its own road through our lives.
Without warning it enters twisting in and out of our most intimate moments.
In its tracks pain ebbs and flows and we are left sometimes raw, sometimes bereft beyond words or tears.
It only goes to come again but with time less brutal.
It 's real — it's an emotion as is anger or joy, perhaps one of the most potent we humans have and must find expression — unique for each one ——
I have come to respect grief. It was an enemy. It has become a friend.
I have learned to give it room and I am larger for it.
Grief is paramount to living again.
It's a solvent for sorrow — a pain reliever. The cost is pride — allowing brokenness.
Our God, the Great Physician intended it so — But He also intended us for each other.
The deepest grief requires ears, hands and hearts — those few who listen, touch and care enough to carry us through when no roads are seen.

Mary Hutton, VON

Bruce McCallum