Obituary of Mary Elizabeth Aikins-Whalen
Mary Elizabeth Aikins - Whalen
Mary passed away peacefully, at home, on July 24 2022 due to an unexpected illness. She was surrounded by friends and family. She is preceded in death by her parents Prudence and Ed, her daughter Kelly and her brother Ed. My Mom was many things to many people – wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker… nothing that is said here will ever be enough.
Born and raised in Portland OR., Mary excelled in school and sports. She loved volleyball and swimming but was more immersed in non-competitive activities such as ballet, Brownies, baton twirling and dance. Mom mentioned that one of the awards she was most proud of was “becoming captain of the dance / drill team when I was a senior in High school.” During her junior year she met “the love of her life” – Paul Whalen. It was during co-ed gym class; she was playing volleyball and he ping-pong. She said “I was in teenage lust” (oh my)! I found letters they exchanged in high school (with nicknames included), ticket stubs from dates at the Drive-In, and dried flowers – even a rock! She and my father married after high school and went on to have two daughters – my older sister Kelly, who passed away last year, and myself, Heather. Mom mentioned that the best thing about becoming a mother was watching her girls develop – crawling, walking, talking. The hardest thing was letting go, letting us make our own decisions and go our own way. Some advice she passed along on being a Mom was “Love them. Hold them. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Celebrate their joys and comfort them in their sorrow.” She said we were special gifts, she told us she was proud of us, and because she lived what she said she made Kelly and myself know we were cherished, important and loved.
Mom started her career as a teller in a Credit Union and advanced to become a Sr. Business Systems Analyst for Fidelity Information Services. She excelled at working within the banking industry, helping to facilitate the mergers of complex computer systems within large banks across the country and in Europe. She absolutely loved her position, the interaction and the relationships built with her teammates, and the clients she worked for. She travelled across the US for work and moved many times, but eventually the constant travel aspect of the job began to wear her on her - she tendered her resignation five times! After each resignation, her employer pleaded for her to return. And she did return, the last time spending the remainder of her career working from home – sometimes in her jammies! Some of her fondest memories during this time of her life were “being one of a few chosen to attend the 1st Client Services Conference”, “meeting some of the most intelligent and fabulous people I have ever known”, “various work promotions and recognition for my dedication”, “travelling and living in places I would have never seen otherwise”, and “when I was living in Des Moines – playing on the work Volleyball teams in the Business league.” I recently found a T-shirt of my Mom’s, not sure how old it was, but it had handwriting all over it from various business associates thanking her for the “training, “seminar”, “fun”, “interesting”, “classes”, “explanations”, “patience” and on it went. I always knew Mom loved her job, and it’s nice to find that she was admired and appreciated for all her hard work and dedication to her profession.
Mary loved many things – spending time with her family and friends, her work, going on adventures, boating, music, travel, shopping, dining, and reading. More importantly Mary was many things – intelligent, graceful, kind, funny, loving, generous, thoughtful, and humble. I hope her goodness and realness touched each person she met and that you take special memories of her with you throughout your life. I am forever blessed that she was my best friend, closest confident and biggest cheerleader.
My beautiful, elegant, gracious Mother,
As I look back over time
I find myself wondering …..
Did I remember to tell you thank you
For all you have done for me?
For all the times you were by my side, holding my hand and wiping my tears
To help and support me …..
To celebrate my successes with your Motherly pride
To understand my problems with no judgements
And help me to accept my defeats graciously?
Or for teaching me by your example,
The value of hard work, independence, compassion for others,
Courage and integrity?
I wonder if I ever thanked you enough by my actions, not just words
For the sacrifices you made that allowed me have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like the sand between my toes, uncontrollable laughter, late night sci-fi flicks and the quiet times we shared?
If I have forgotten to show my deepest gratitude for all the things you did and the sacrifices you made
I’m thanking you now
But I am hoping you knew all along,
How very much you meant to me and how I loved you like no other.
When I break and think that I can’t do this life without you, I will pick myself up from the floor and remember that you are a part of me, that you made me strong, resilient and I will go on and try my very best to make you proud.
Until I see you again you are with me always.
Love, HeatherTo send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Aikins-Whalen, please visit Tribute Store