” Arból de la esperanza, mantente firme “ – “Tree of hope, stand firm” -Frida Kahlo

Ecuador – Less than a month ago a friend lost his best friend to Covid, and I said to him, “There’s one more star in the heavens smiling down on us.” 

He found comfort in that concept.   This past week he presented those same words back to me, as I adjusted to the news of the death of my friend Mary McDonald.

Dogpaddling through a lovely collage of memories, I thought that our connection with art was the strongest link, and the images below show the unconditional love that flowed between us.

It takes courage to share works of art, especially when they are in progress, and Mary always invited me into her realm, which was one that I cherished.

Like a duckling in water, Ms. Mary made those pigments sing!

I once introduced Mary to the curator at the inauguration of a museum show. “Mary is an artist,” I stated. She later wrote me to say that my comment had startled her, and well, yes – yes indeed she was an artist! Until that moment, my multi-talented friend had not considered herself a real artist.   She stated, “Your positive comments to Alexandra has re-lit the flame in my spirit to pick up a brush again. For that especially, I thank you. ( my eyes are leaking)”

And my eyes are leaking now as I type.  Dear Mary  is surely smiling and watching over my shoulder.

The last painting I had seen of hers was one that burned in my memory – she wrestled the trauma of the 7.8 earthquake into an powerful work of art. I almost cried when she timidly showed it to me.

Terremoto -Renacimiento by Mary McDonald – Acrylic on wood, 58 cm x 58 cm

After the museum visit, she later told me that she thought, ‘Artist? Me?’ and then exclaimed to herself, ‘Yes! I AM an artist.’

“The strongest people find the courage and caring to help others, even if they are going through their own storm.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Even after trauma from the earthquake, John and Mary were forever doting on others. This photo was taken when they hosted a ‘thank you’ event at their home – and fed a crowd large enough to fill a small stadium!


On Tuesday evening, May 25, Mary realized that she was about to die and called for her husband John. He said that she did not panic but stated that she was dying and could not breathe. They had both agreed that a hospital was not where either wanted to take their final breath, and John held her while singing their favorite hymns until she weaned from one set of loving hands into the next.

When I told my friend, who had lost his dear friend the week before, he artfully presented my words of comfort back to me:  “…our friends are turning into stars in the sky…”

On beautiful Van Gogh nights, we can look up and find a new star smiling down at her loved ones.