On Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, our beloved Mama, Mary Jane Haddad, peacefully ascended into God’s embrace, attended by her loving family. Warm, wise, generous and kind, filled with faith and love—These words barely begin to describe the Mary Jane (“MJ” or “Janie”) that we all knew and loved. Born of Syrian immigrants 93 years ago, MJ and her four siblings grew up on a farm in Michigan. She met and married her love, Edward Haddad (a petroleum geologist); and gave birth and life to their two beloved daughters, Kay Lynn and Synthia Sue. After 17 years in the oil patch with Dad, our family moved to Norman and opened Twins Food Mart (named for Dad and his identical twin brother). At the same time, Mom was hired by Dr. Nat Eek to manage the busy office of the OU School of Dance & Drama. Mama’s kind nature, as well as her efficiency and dedication to staff and students, earned her the moniker of “Drama Mama,” because she was so well-loved. But that was just her day job. Evenings, she went to Twins Food Mart to prepare dinner and give Daddy a rest break. No matter how tired MJ might have been, she overflowed with abundant love and concern for us throughout our lives. Mom’s natural affinity for mothering endeared her to all.
A phenomenal cook, Mom loved trying new recipes and feeding people. Growing up, our weekends often were spent bustling about the kitchen, helping Mom to prepare and share generous quantities of Lebanese food and pastries, chocolate candies, pralines, pies, cookies and cakes. In 1978, in a nod to their Lebanese heritage, it was no surprise that she and Dad established The International Pantry. The pride of Norman, it was the first and only complete kitchen shop in the tri-state area. Visiting Ed and MJ at “The Pantry” offered an exciting mix of old world culture and current trends in cookware, gourmet foods and all things “kitchen.” It quickly became a hotspot and favorite hangout for foodies, professional chefs, students, and kitchen novices alike. Mom and Dad were well-known for their warmth, hospitality, and sharing their zest for life with all who crossed “the Pantry” threshold.
Following retirement and the subsequent death of our Dad, Mom enjoyed more time with faith-based and spiritual reading, attending church, volunteer work, traveling, and playing bridge with her favorite gal pals. Nothing, however, brought more joy to Mom than her family and friends, and being “Sitto” to her only grandchild, Elyse, who was “the apple” of her eye. (“Sitto” means “Grandma” in Arabic.) In June, MJ became a “Big Sitto,” and in September, met her first, beautiful great-grandchild, London. Snuggling and engaging with “Londee” became Mom’s greatest joy.
Our beautiful mother was so easy to love. She reveled in being a daughter, sister, mother, (Big) Sitto, aunt, friend, confidante, teacher, peacemaker, healer, and spiritual guide. She leaves behind her cherished daughters Kay Lynn (Ed), and Synthia; grandchild Elyse (Pablo); great-grandchild, London; beloved siblings Lyman and Lorraine and a loving multitude of nieces, nephews and cousins. Mom also leaves behind many wonderful friends and (medical) caretakers who adored her, and took extra special care of her. We wish to thank each of you for loving our precious Mother with such sweet tenderness; we will always be grateful to you. Mom, with heavy hearts, we bid you Godspeed as you transition into the next phase of your life eternal. We will miss you dearly, but will carry your lessons of love and blessings in our hearts forever. Rest in Gods eternal peace and grace, Mama. We love you.
A Requiem Eucharist will be held November 1, 2017, at 3:00pm, in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norman, (corner of Asp Avenue and Duffy). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation, in Mom’s memory, to St. John’s Episcopal Church or the American Heart Association.