To the Editor,
As a small child on Block Island, I had a mental list of individuals who I had deified and deemed extraordinary. The list was concise: Santa, the Easter Bunny, Fred Benson, and Mary D.
There is a special tone of voice used to convey magic to children, a timbre usually reserved for quiet, excitable talk in church pews and the reading of fantastical bedtime stories. It was the same tone used by adults on Block Island to tell all the children about Mary Donnelly; a heroic woman who could help anyone at any time, a philanthropic nurse who was bettering Block Island with faith and wit, plus, she knew all of our names! It’s as if Mary D. had a stethoscope to the surface of our inner dialogues: an extraordinary capacity to recognize and react to unspoken community needs during moments of vulnerability and dire straits.
In a place typified by ruthless isolation, Mary D. mystically emerged to remind us that the distinctive togetherness we experience on Block Island is a blessing. Her life’s work reveals that pursuits of unbridled generosity and public-spiritedness are not bound by time, place, or mortality. It remains impossible to memorialize Mary D. through words alone—the only adequate way to honor the magnitude of her impact is to carry on this essential mission of discerning community care and approachable altruism.
Thank you, Mary D., for having a profound impact on generations of Block Islanders, who still feel the magic of your care.
High View Lane