On Friday, February 8, 2019, a host of relatives and friends paid their last respects to bid farewell to an iconic matriarch known for her tough love approach with not only her children, but to every child she knew.
I know because as a child growing up on Cedar Hill in Warwick in the 1960’s, I was one of many who encountered Momma Mary during her many years with the Salvation Army and the neighbourhood surrounding Southampton Rangers Sports Club.
Mary Esther Burchall, affectionately known as “Lou” to her loving husband David BL Burchall, of 50 years (celebrated in April 2018), Momma Mary, Mary Esther and ‘The Cake Lady’, was fondly remembered as the mother of six children, Gregory, Clark, Darren ‘Butch’ Burchall, Denton, David “and finally a girl – Deanne”.
In her obituary, Darren recalled when his brother Gregory was 12-years-old “when he brought a scrambler in the yard”.
“When Momma came home from Home League with information that he had been riding it on the road (no licence of course), she immediately armed herself with an axe and chopped that thing to pieces,” he said. “Sparks were flying on Horseshoe Road that day!”
I couldn’t help but smile when I heard that because I know ‘Momma Mary’ was a no-nonsense mother and if you were wrong, it didn’t matter if you were her child or not, she would let you have it. As a community, we sure could use a full army of Momma Mary’s.
As a Salvationist, who spent a lifetime working with the Salvation Army of Bermuda, Momma Mary will forever be a beacon of light for so many.
Despite “experiencing health struggles eight years ago, which caused tremendous strain upon the family,” Darren noted that “Papa wa with her when she nearly died on the operating table in Boston”, some time ago.
“In 2012, Momma had her left leg amputated (which she dubbed Shorty) and that began a stormy and emotional journey for her, Papa and the entire family,” he added.
“Papa bravely soldiered on caring for his ‘Lou’ and this giant-of-a-man as earned his spurs as her doctor, caregiver and provider. What a tremendous man Papa is!”
When his health became a challenge as well, he also acknowledged Darreana who “resigned from her full-time job and the rest is history between Darreana and Granny”.
What does that say about a family in crisis due to illness – the Burchall family has always been and will always be known as a family that sticks together through thick and thin.
Like so many families impacted by CANCER – way too many, this family soldiered on for Momma Mary, which speaks volumes on the strength of this family unit.
What is comforting to know is that there is no more pain and suffering and that Momma Mary will live on in the hearts and souls of all of those who were blessed to know and love her so. Those feelings never go – we carry them with us with your bright smile and sparkling eyes wherever we go!
Rest In Peace Dear Soul – Sure going to miss you – Sleep in Peace! Mary Esther Burchall, February 21, 1939 – February 4, 2019.