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“Are you ready?” “Noooo!”

 

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Thank you to the lovely Dr. Anita Auerbach for allowing me to share her eulogy for Richard Thompson.  Her words met me where I was at.  And for that I am grateful.                                

EULOGY for RICHARD THOMPSON

For some reason the brightest stars always seem to burn too briefly. Life in the end, as portrayed in a popular Jimi Hendrix song “is the blink of an eye.”

Richard Thompson came into my life very late in his. There began between us a series of meetings in which no topic was off-limits, no emotion, no thought was unspeakable. We smiled, we cried and we told stories to each other. But so often we laughed, particularly Richard laughed, guffawed really, when we reviewed some of his own comic strips and caricatures!! It was as if he was there at their inception again when he knew finally he had gotten it right. For sure, we spoke of the frustrations giving birth to these portraits: the many drawings crumbled, and comic strip concepts torn up, the garbage cans kicked to the other side of the room, the all-nighters, the half-nighters and the no-nighters!

But all of this faded away in his laughter. And this is what I want to impart to you: the extraordinary capacity of this man to retain a sense of humor, a sense of the wry and absurd, even for his own situation: the juxtaposition of his enormous talent trapped in a body that had become so frail and incapacitated, and yet the still huge capacity for laughter and delight. It was a nobility of spirit I have rarely seen, and it was ennobling just to be in the presence of it.

How did he do it? Well he didn’t do it alone and he knew it: “My girls” he would say, “my girls”. His darling wife Amy with whom he found both physical and emotional support, his daughter Emma whose antics on the elevated manhole cover in their neighborhood served as his inspiration for Cul de Sac, and his daughter Charlotte with whose quiet, gentleness of spirit he most closely identified. And Rudy, his trusted aide, whose warmth and strength combined to keep things moving and safe. Visits from his father and brother. And his remarkable colleagues, some of whom you have heard from today, were so sustaining: Nick Galifianakis, Bono Mitchell, Pete Doctor to name just a few whose frequent visits created such anticipation and delight. And when Pete dropped off the director’s cut of his brilliant movie animation Inside Out (in which Richard is mentioned in the credits) and a baseball cap of the same name, Richard proudly bestowed on me the video to view, but he never took off the cap!

I asked Richard once when I was meeting with him now at home, as it was clear we were very near the end, “Are you ready?” “Noooo!” was his response. “What more do you want to do?” I asked. He pointed to his favorite caricature of Beethoven behind him and said simply “Art”.  Later that same day, as I stood with Nick outside the Thompson home, he said to me ”You know who that is in there [referring to Richard]? That’s Beethoven.”

We lost Richard shortly after that. But in the end, his was a death with dignity. Why? Because he died in character. Amy made sure of that. He died the way he lived: at home, surrounded by loved ones, all of the enormously prolific art of his career, and even by the characters of Cul de Sac – scenery designed and built by Amy for the play she wrote, directed and produced in bringing the comic strip to the stage.

Astronomy teaches us that there are stars we now see whose light reaches the earth even after they themselves have disintegrated. And so too for us can Richard’s bright, funny, shining memory, the extraordinary reservoir of art and talent that flowed from his hands and his heart,  light our world even after he has long passed from it.

Amy, Emma and Charlotte, know for yourselves that the difficulties of his last days, from which this was his only exit, will someday begin to fade so that time heals much of the pain and all that remains is the beauty of the memories, and the love, always the love.

Eleanor Roosevelt in eulogy of her husband Franklin (FDR) said:

“They are not dead who live in lives they leave behind. In those whom they have blessed,they live a life again.”

‘So let us not cry because it is over; let’s smile because it happened.’

Surely a spirit so strong as Richard’s can endure in the hearts of those he leaves behind, so that in the words of a favorite poem:

The tide recedes but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand

The sun goes down but gentle warmth
still lingers on the land

The music stops and yet it lingers on
in sweet refrain:

For every joy that passes
something beautiful remains.

(author unknown)

Godspeed, Richard Thompson. Peace be with you. You did all that you could do. Your family who were like friends and friends who were like family, your colleagues and many supporters did all that they could do. Thank you for all you did for all of us. We will miss you but we will celebrate your life for the gift it was in ours.

 Dr. Anita Auerbach
26 August 2016
National Press Club
Washington, D.C.

Oops. I left my date on the bus.

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Hope your date night was everything you wanted it to be and more.

Personally, I haven’t liked date night since the winter of 1981.

For an introvert masquerading as a homebody, date night is just another opportunity to feel like a loser party pooper.

The truth is, all I’ve ever wanted to do on date night is chill out on the sofa, eat potato chips, and watch television.

Of course, some decades were filled with more Saturday night studying and working than chilling and crunching chips, but it’s all good.  I never minded studying or working on a Saturday night.

In the winter of 1981, I had the date experience everyone should have.  My college crush finally got up the nerve to give me an opening to suggest he ask me out.

Did you follow that?

Let’s just say he was shy.

We had been in the main hall of the library all day studying.  My crush sat near me, just a few tables away, and we alternated not looking at each other while the other pretended to be focused on literature.  As the cold, wintry Saturday went on, we met for hourly smoke breaks in the vestibule of the library.

In those days, we could smoke inside and we would stand in the lobby area waiting, waiting, waiting for the other to take a risk and suggest a date.

As the library announced it was getting ready to close in an hour, we shared a last cigarette.

Finally, my crush asked what I was thinking and, completely out of character, but desperate to spend more time with him, I said “You know what? I feel like doing something wild and crazy.”

For the record, and in the spirit of full disclosure,, I have never wanted to do something wild and crazy.

But my crush was apparently thinking the same exact thing. He seized the moment, instructing me to go home and get dressed because he would pick me up in a half-hour.

That night we left campus and went to a local dance club where they must have played Tainted Love 12 times. We danced to it each time.

It was so hot.

It was freezing outside, but the dance club was hot from dancing and by the time we got in the car to go home we were soaked with sweat.

My crush, who shall be nameless lest he’s on Facebook, came home with me that night.

He came home to my room on the third floor of a boarding house type situation.

We laid on the mostly uncomfortable bed, fully clothed, and he played with my hair and kissed my forehead late into the early morning. When Foreigner came on the radio, and played Waiting For a Girl Like You, we knew that would be our song. The next morning we awoke late, in love and chaste. By the end of the day, we were more in love and much less chaste.

I’m sure I’ve had Saturday night dates since then, but mostly Saturday nights have been saved for the sofa.

In recent years, date night has been reserved not just for the sofa, but for my favorite followers.

The Saturday night Facebook crowd has been with me every single Saturday night, relaxed, silly, and ready to make fun of whatever’s worth making fun of that day.

Several years ago, Facebook told me that my fans were most active on Saturday night and Sunday night, and so I then had the perfect excuse for staying at home.

So I was incredibly shocked to hear today that one of my biggest fans, Susan Reinhard, died.

Her sister posted the news on Facebook where so many of her friends hang out.

I’m devastated.

I’m devastated that I didn’t suspect this could happen and that I didn’t take time to tell Susan how very much she meant to me.

Susan worked for United Media for 23 years. She had worked with my all-time favorite editor, Amy Lago, for part of that time, while Amy was editing taller, more male-ish cartoonists.

Susan loved everything I loved.

I knew she was sick and I knew her health challenges were significant lately.

But I still thought she had forever and, to be honest, I thought I would be gone long before she would.

If I had known Susan’s time was short I would have told her a couple of things.

First of all, I would have told her I love her for being there all the time.  Whether she was there all the time because she was sick or because she enjoyed it doesn’t matter to me. I’m an introvert who is often restricted by depression, and to say that I love my virtual community is understatement.

My social media friends provide me an escape, a safety net, and a party, all at the same time.

For an introvert with depression, that’s a great combination.

But Susan was much more then a friend in waiting and a friend in fact. She was a huge fan of my art and my humor.

She responded to my cartoons every day and told me the feelings or thoughts my work had provoked for her.

Susan was raw, honest, passionate and unscared of debate.  She was honest up to the edge and often over. I was jealous of her ability to type her first reactions since I am the queen of editing and manipulating the messages I put out there.

Every once in a while the pendulum swings toward bashing the Internet, technology and social media. But I am the biggest defender of it all, especially virtual communities.

For someone who can’t just say “what the hell” and get out there and be spontaneous, the virtual world of social media becomes very real, quite meaningful incredibly loving and surprisingly supportive. In many ways, the virtual world is better than reality in that people come to you when they’re ready and they come to you where you’re at.

I’ll say goodbye to Susan more coherently and appropriately over the next couple of days as her absence becomes clear.

But for now, I will just say that to all of you who spend time with me virtually during the day, during the night, during the stressful times and during even the crappiest Mondays, thank you.

Never ever underestimate the value of your visit to my pages and your responses to my posts.

I know they call it virtual, but for me it’s very real.

Goodnight, Susan. Hope you’re reading me.

xoxo, d

 

 

 

 

How do you count your love interests?

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www.bellaboodc.com
Images, art and characters.

Every day I make many, many lists.

I write and rewrite lists for work and home and fun and un-fun. Have lists for matters related to family and friends, boys and girls, dogs and cats, and the car. I have an IRS list and a District of Columbia government list.

I love lists. They soothe me, inspire me, limit me, liberate me, and provide me with excuses to buy endless supplies of Brightly colored paper and sticky notes.

Sometimes though, I just want to make a list that doesn’t require action. Like a top 10 list.

But then I get confused over what I should make a top 10 list about and I don’t make the list.

But today is different. Today I’m going to make a list of favorite movies. And because there’s no possible way to make a reasonable list a favorite movies, I’ll limit the type of movies to movies about love interests, the topic of today’s single panel cartoon.

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about movies or thought about movies. Movies are a sensitive topic for me.  Sometimes they provide a source of comfort. At other times, they provide triggers for angst.

But it’s summer and I’m ready to watch movies for inspiration. Summertime is a good time for that.

So here goes… I’ll try to do this off the top of my head.

My top 10(or so)(give or take) movies about love interests:

(1) Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hope this one’s not too obvious.

(2) Splendor in the Grass. A horrible mother, a society that mistakes emotion for mental illness, a really great psychiatric hospital, and Love. Oh, and, Natalie Wood.

(3) Betty Blue. Love and mental illness and really hot sex

(4) Entre Nous. Love. Love lost. Love found. Love incidentally, accidentally and otherwise. And two of the most beautiful women in the world. And two men, by the way.

(5) The Sweet Hereafter. Just watch it. Take my word.

…okay

I’ll finish up later. I need to give some thought to the next five. I don’t want to fritter away my spots.

xoxo, d

 

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