Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What I'd like to Put on the Radio Today

By Jo-Ann Roberts

I’ve taken to reading the obituaries lately. I can’t really say why. Maybe it’s because I had a birthday this month and I’m pretty sure I’m closer to the end of my life now than I am the beginning. But, whatever the reason, I’m fascinated by the legacy of people’s live and the question of “what really matters when it’s all said and done, literally?”

Canada lost a great citizen this past week. Mary Elizabeth Bayer (Mary Liz to her friends).
was a woman I didn’t know well, but I admired tremendously. She was passionate about life and causes she believed in. In a time before it was fashionable, she was a woman who was not afraid to make her mark in what in many ways was a man’s world. She was a CBC journalist in the early days of television and a powerful civil servant, when their were few women in politics. She was a published poet and a crusader to save our heritage in this country. She felt strongly about tolerance and diversity, including her aboriginal and french roots. She also believed we should give of our gifts and our time to our country. As an untiring volunteer throughout her life she didn’t just mouth that motto....she walked the talk.

Mary Liz Bayer won many awards, accolades and honourary degrees in her life. And they were mentioned at her funeral at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Esquimalt, Monday afternoon. But, as I looked around the church I could see it wasn’t these accomp[lisments impressed her friends and family. As they celebrated the life of this amazing woman, those who had gathered to say good-bye responded to tales of Mary Liz’s love of family, her sense of loyalty and the fact that she knew how to have fun.

Her cousin, explained that he had asked Mary Liz about a week before she died what message she wanted delivered at her funeral, (in typical Mary Liz fashion she had organized the whole event, hymns, scripture and who would speak). Mary Liz replied that she wanted the message to be one of love and compassion. She told him, “We’ve got it wrong with so much hate and violence. We must be doing something wrong.” Mary Liz felt we’d missed the point of why we are on this earth and she hoped we would all find a way to have more love and compassion in our lives. I’m paraphrasing, Mary Liz was a master of language and put it more powerfully than this.

Not surprising with her sense of history and experience in the spoken word, Mary Liz recorded her final words on tape. I wish I was still on the radio because I would like the chance to play her final message....Why? Because Mary Liz did so much for this country but in many ways her final words might be her greatest legacy.

Just so you know what you’re missing........while CBC employees remain locked out.


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