Mar 07, 2023
By AM740 Staff
Coming up this Saturday at 1pm on Finding Your Bliss, we have a show devoted to raising awareness for multiple sclerosis, which affects thousands of Canadians. Life Coach and Bliss Expert Judy Librach will be joined by filmmaker Emily Lawson, whose short film “Richard and Mary” is being screened at this year’s Toronto Short Film Festival.
Emily Lawson is a Toronto-based actor and filmmaker. Her films explore the landscape of the intimate female experience. She can be seen next in the HBO series Station Eleven directed by Hiro Murai and Jeremy Podeswa, as well as in Lina Rodriguez’s forthcoming feature So Much Tenderness, supported by the TIFF Talent Lab, Technicolour and Telefilm.
Emily is currently in post-production for her short, “Sit.” funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Also on the program, we will meet the real-life Mary Lawlis and Richard Markle, whose love story is a big part of the film. Mary and Richard are both very dear friends of Judy Librach and they have all been best friends for over 40 years.
Richard was diagnosed with MS in 1990 – the Relapsing and Remitting form of MS. He first noticed something was wrong when he was playing squash with different friends – his coordination and energy were off, he was really affected by the heat, and he was unable to jog, exercise, or take a hot shower without experiencing double vision.
For a few days, Richard had double vision full-time and began wearing a patch. He was still waiting to see a doctor. He finally had an appointment with a neurologist at their local hospital and an MRI and then was diagnosed with MS. He was referred to the MS Clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Over his 30+ years with MS, Richard has described periods of exacerbation and wellness. Early in his disease, he says, “I experienced MS symptoms for periods of time and then they went away- for the most part- and I would feel generally well again. In the past number of years, the disease has changed to Secondary Progressive – which means there’s really no improvement after a flare-up – it’s a gradual decline.
I went from using a cane to a walker, to now full-time in a motorized wheelchair. We are very fortunate to have a fully accessible home – a bungalow that we worked with the builders to increase wheelchair accessibility. I have all the equipment: Medical bed, Hoyer lift, roll-in shower, reclining wheelchair and PSW support 3 times each day. Mary supports these visits and of course any needs I have between the visits- throughout the day and night.”
Richard has lived with M.S. for over 30 years now. He has been married to Mary since 1983 and has benefitted from Mary’s love and support. They have two adult children, Kate and Arianna.
Richard studied at the University of Kent (U.K.) and the University of Bordeaux, (France). He holds a BA in Theatre from York University and a Master’s in Drama Studies from the University of Toronto. His Bachelor of Education is from the University of Toronto.
As an educator, he has worked as a drama teacher and department head as well as six years as Integrated Arts Consultant for the York Region District School Board.
He says that even with MS, he has been able to live his bliss — travelling for both work and pleasure to France, England, South Africa, Norway, Ireland, Mexico and other glorious destinations!
Richard’s wife is Mary Lawlis. Mary is a passionate educator with extensive experience in curriculum design, instructional strategies and teacher professional development. She earned a BFA in Theatre
Performance from York University and an MA and B. Ed. from the University of Toronto. Throughout her career with the York Region District School Board, she has served in a variety of professional roles including secondary English and Drama teacher, Curriculum Consultant, Curriculum Coordinator for Secondary School Programming, District Administrator for Student Success and Secondary Principal.
Mary has led teacher professional development at the board, university and provincial levels and has served on numerous writing and presentation teams with the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Mary is married to Richard, the love of her life, and is his full-time caregiving support. Mary is also the mother to their adult children, Kate and Arianna.
Join us this Saturday at 1 PM on Finding Your Bliss. You can follow us @theblissminute on Instagram and Facebook. Or you can visit our online magazine at www.findingyourbliss.com and take one step closer to finding your bliss.