"When I first met Mary she was already seventy, but as youthful and energetic as a thirty-year-old — surely she would live to be one hundred. Month after month, year after year, she offered ikebana lessons twice a week in the classroom of a Japanese retirement home. Patiently she taught all the artistic principles of ikebana I'd grown to associate with her presence: appreciation of line and form, a keen awareness of asymmetrical balance, a tender love for living plants. In Mary's quiet and serene style she corrected and encouraged and nurtured me along until she thought I was ready to strike out on my own — even though I had so much more to learn. I think she knew that our time together was coming to an end.

"For eleven years I had the privilege to inquire and prod and delve deeply into what Mary knew so well, what she had incorporated into her own being — the art of ikebana. Mary had a true 'flower heart': gracious, self-assured yet humble, kind, generous, and pure. She possessed the attributes of a Kado practitioner: someone who observes nature and incorporates the innocence and purity of flowers into their very being. She was the white trillium deep in the forest, exuding an inner beauty that transcended mundane concerns and the petty chaos of the world.

"Through all the years I studied with her not once did she show impatience, irritability, or anger. I suspect she did not complain or whine as I did when struggling to master her art. For over a decade she commented and critiqued, gently pulled out my branches to turn them this way or that, added something here or there, and always, with her sharp eye and years of skill, improved the overall design of my arrangement."