I am very sorry to hear about Mary. I still remember meeting her for the first time in Tokyo Japan 2 years ago. She was full of energy and visiting everywhere in Japan by herself. We had a nice chat and visited the Emperor’s palace gardens then had a casual dinner near Tokyo station. Mary was very courageous for coming to Tokyo for the first time and trying different food, taking trains by herself all over town and staying in a small Ryokan in Yotsuya. While dinner, I remember Mary talking about her garden and children (especially Rebecca since I am her friend). Your mother was very proud of you Rebecca for your work etc. I was honored and blessed to have met Mary. She was truly a very active and happy person. I will truly miss her. My condolences and may Mary go on to her next happy journey!
Dear Rebecca, Oliver, Ruth and Emily, We will remember Mary as Oma Mary, honouring her Dutch roots. She would always tell her stories about the Van den Berg family and the rendezvous at the train station. One thing that stands out for us a a memory of Oma Mary is that she would always leave one or two stroopwafels or Haagse hopjes in the pack, so she would never finish them. We would then find those much past use-by-date treats somewhere in the cupboard in the Kitchen when we would visit again after two or three years, obviously bringing new stash. It was wonderful to see Mary in Melbourne and have a cup of tea with her on city square after she visited the St. Paul's Cathedral of Melbourne. We hope we will be able to celebrate Mary's life with you at Vann at some stage. Lots of love, Bert, Heleen, Iceman and Wietse
I visited mary's house and enjoyed her hospitality on several occasions when vannfest came around, an amazing house, an amazing garden and an amazing woman. I am very grateful to her and her family for the kindness shown to me by including me and I am much saddened by her passing. My condolences, and my thoughts are with you.
I met Mary on a few family occasions, but I particularly remember going to Vann for Sunday lunch with my aunt and uncle a few years ago, when Rebecca was visiting. It was such a lovely day, with wonderful food and conversation, plus a walk around the incredible garden. Mary was a wonderful host and made it a very special occasion that I will always remember.
Mary's husband Martin was my mother Sylvia's cousin, and Vann and Watlands have happy childhood memories for her. My brothers and I were born and grew up in the USA, returning with my parents to live in England in 1976. I remember afternoon tea with Mary not long after arriving. I was very much in awe of her vitality, but also very grateful for her warmth and her welcome into an extended family fold which I had been unable to experience thousands of miles away. My mother really enjoyed her stimulating conversation and loved our visits to Vann. I was very glad we were able to make it to the summer gathering three(?) years ago. That the coronavirus could beat somebody like Mary has pulled me up short and made me realise how vicious it is. But in a sense it makes sense that she is 'slipping the bonds of Earth' at the moment when spring is bursting out all over and she can simply enter fully, with nothing held back, into its ebullience. She will forever be united in my mind with the hedges heavy with drifts of sloe blossom, a meadow filled with fritillaries, and banks yellow with primroses.
Living abroad during lockdown while Mummy was sick has been very hard – yet I remain buoyed by so many private messages of support and delightful memories from Mummy's friends and relatives. I would be so grateful if you would share your thoughts and memories here. It will help me to grieve, to give public acknowledgement and to learn more about her remarkable life, well-lived.