Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eulogy for Dottie Wendt Richard

eulogy for dottie wendt richard

It would be easy to say the usual things a person says about someone they love after they have passed on, but Mimi did not live the usual life. Even in her roles as mother, wife, friend and grandmother she took on an untraditional path leading to a score of colorful, amazing, hard and wild life lessons that many of us could have never realized without her strong presence. Everyone sitting here today has been touched by her, the good, the bad and the ugly – the creative, the humorous, and all those outrageous things you wished you could say but she said it for you. In thinking of her multi layered life here on earth, the thing I could not help coming back to was that her life was a lesson, and encompassed in that lesson was a life lived by someone who walked to the beat of a different drummer. In the lesson was a pattern of sacrifice, and as we all know a bit of emotional turmoil at times. Some of society may look down upon this human trait, but even her time spent in discontent is a lesson for every single one of us, to really live, to forgive, to let go, to take this moment of release as a joy in our own lives – and because she had a flare for the dramatic and a longing to be known, loved and have an effect in the world, it is each of our turn to pick up the torch and live all the ways she did when she was feeling happy and all the ways she wished for when she was feeling down. Her life points directly in our hearts and asks us each here today ‘are you living your life as you want to? If not, stop wasting time. Do not live an unlived life, live your dreams.’

In her life coming to a close, we can see the legacy she left behind with 4 children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren – all of us holding pieces of her in our body and souls, pieces of Pepere, and pieces of their parents that came before them for generations of mankind. The way a tree dies, then falls down to decay, but returns to the dirt only to feed many new flowers, trees, bugs and birds – Mimi only dies in body but her spirit, her essence will nourish and teach the rest of us still living beyond even our own lifespan. Her power is like the motion of a butterfly’s wings fluttering, a small movement that has the strength to change an entire weather pattern.

Her body stayed alive on earth until everyone had come to see her, I always felt she was holding out till she was satisfied that everyone did indeed love her, and Tuesday night as her breathing had become labored and her limbs more at peace Enola whispered in her ear that each of us, by name, loved her so much and it was alright to go over to the light. Released by a simple declaration of love only a few hours later she let go, letting go in the presence of love and true forgiveness.

Life is made up of many details, but we all must love and be loved – it was a great motivating factor in Mimi’s life, to be accepted and loved no matter who she was. And she has taught me that we all deserve love, no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or what we can do. We need not do anything special to be loved, all we need to be is present in someone’s mind. Where society may turn their nose, our family and her friends have learned to love and accept all types of people, personalities, faults, emotions (and fun too) with open arms – a gift Mimi gave to us by default by just being a woman who was wildly opposite of what society expected her to be.

From her bedside she taught me all sorts of quips, ways to navigate life, and how to be my own person. As a grandchild I was bestowed her personal wisdoms such as “if you marry a man, you marry his family”, “if you hurt holler”, and “walking to the beat of a different drummer is a choice, and it’s not an easy path”, all of which came with amazing stories that kept me enthralled for hours as a child – stories of parties, of psychic dreams, learning to drive a car, being a bridal consultant, having scarlet fever as a child, and countless plots of countless books she read from the Harahan Library. Stories that made me want to live life to the fullest, and that gave me a heartfelt understanding for all of humanity.

Each of us will have our own experience and own memories with Dottie – in the light of her persevering (maybe hardheaded?) spirit may each one of us take each one of these memories into our hearts and use it to make ourselves a better, brighter and happier life, for ourselves and the future generations carrying those brilliant pieces of her soul.

I will end with a quote by a woman writer Pema Chodron:

“ Just as a jewel that has been buried in the earth for a million years is not discolored or harmed, in the same way this noble heart is not affected by all of our kicking and screaming. The jewel can be brought out into the light at any time, and it will glow as brilliantly as if nothing had ever happened. No matter how committed to unkindness, selfishness, or greed, the genuine heart cannot be lost. It is here in all that lives, never marred and completely whole.”

(eulogy written by Leslie Richard)



Kittie Howard said...

What a beautiful, loving, poetic eulogy. Tears fell! For all that was and is. Mimi lives with the angels, those in heaven, and those, like you, who live with her spirit. I'm offering up a prayer for her. Hugs!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Thanks so much Kittie.
I happen to really like thinking of angels at this time, I dreamt of her with large angel wings and herself young before she ever got married.

Kittie Howard said...

Leslie, My thoughts are with you. I know how I felt when Ma passed. It hurts like words can't say. So, I was delighted to return home from errands and see that Louisiana Belle had given me an award, Over the Top, with instructions to pass it on to five people. So, mosey on over to my blog and pick up your award, and pass it on to five people. As an aside, about a year after Ma passed, Dick and I were in Old Williamsburg. I went to sit on a bench while he wandered a few shops. I looked up. No one was there. No one. Except my grandmother. She smiled the sweetest, kindest smile that said all was right with the world. Then, poof, she disappeared. People began walking on the brick sidewalk where she had stood. Dick reappeared. He hadn't seen a soul. I guess this makes me seem kinda nuts, but it's what I saw and I'm stickin' to it. Mimi's an angel! Keep believin'! Tis true!

Louisiana Belle said...

Leslie, this is my first visit to your blog. My heart goes out to you at this time. She must've been an amazing woman to receive such a beautiful eulogy. God bless.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Yay Kittie!!! Thanks for the award, i will go check it out right now.

Thank you for sharing your story about seeing your grandmother - i have had similar experience with people in my life who also passed on, and if you are crazy then I am a total lunatic.
Two nights before she died she came to me in my sleep and told me that this was the last time we'd be talking while she was alive , that she would be leaving her body now and that it was time for me to come to acceptance and be prepared - also she told me how much she loved me. I woke up though in a personal panic... for the entire next day i felt like i was feeling her death, my breath was labored and short, my thoughts were spacey, and i had this freaky sensation that i could not feel my hands and feet and that it was working it's way up my limbs. It felt like dieing. Then when i woke up yesterday morning, i saw a vision of her dead and at peace and knew i would hear something that day.

The mysterious is something that keeps me happy, keeps life interesting and keeps me going - without the woo woo mysteries and ghostly happenings life would be so dull.

My friend said it best this morning when she called to give condolences, she said "I am so sorry Leslie... is she haunting you yet?"


Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Louisiana Belle -

Thank you so much! She was a woman who had power in every molecule of her body - even when she could no longer respond and speak. She was someone who was wild and probably also pissed alot of people off time to time.
But me and her had some kind of understanding that defied details. It's what love should be. :)

Thanks for commenting !

PS- my Mimi was born and raised in Baton Rouge, LA and lived as a married woman and for her life in New Orleans. She was totally a southern woman.

Susie Collins said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your Mimi's passing, but there is no doubt she lives on in your heart! You have so much of her in you, what an honor. I send prayers for your Mimi, may she rest in peace. And may you also have peace in your heart, Leslie, in that special place where Mimi lives. xoxo

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Thank you so much Susie for all the support you have given me, since the moment we met. :)

Susie Collins said...

You are a favorite of mine as I'm sure you are to your Mimi. I just realized you saw the owl a few days ago. You truly are a nature spirit, Leslie, and your Mimi is so proud of you. xoxo

Anonymous said...

So beautiful!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

thank you.

Everyone's kind words and support make the grief easier, i really appreciate it.