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10 February 2003

I talked with Ned's best friend Greg about a month ago, offering him condolences on the death of his mother shortly before Thanksgiving. He told me that there would be a memorial planned for Davis after the first of the year and said that his main concern was that it be "classy." He wanted to do his mom proud.

Today he and his siblings (and their spouses) and his friends (e.g., Ned) exceeded beyond his wildest expectations. His mother would have been very proud.

The event was held on the stage of the Veterans Memorial Theatre, the theatre where Susan had choreographed shows, designed lights, performed in the chorus, and where her children developed a love of theatre. Greg, who gave up his life on the road being on the light crew for Neil Diamond, Madonna, and Garth Brooks, among others, when his children were born, now manages the Vets and the Varsity, Davis's other theatre.

I've never seen the theatre look so beautiful. The house was lit dimly with red gels in the lights, adding a richness I'd never seen in that theatre. Large photos of Susan hung from the ceiling.

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Greg in front of a photo of himself
with his mother and Neil Diamond

There were chairs arranged on the stage facing the house seats. The ubiqiutous ficus trees and a lovely floral arrangement decorated the front of the stage, with tables scattered around on which were arranged articles from the magazines Susan ran, a guest book, photos, programs from shows she'd choreographed, and a scrapbook of memories from her retirement from the magazine she founded.

The memorial--which wasn't really a memorial (that had taken place in November back east) was an opportunity for her west coast friends to remember what made this lady special. 

It began with a recording of "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera.  It was the perfect piece, and had me in tears before a word had been spoken. 

Greg, who admitted he was much more comfortable behind a light board than in front of a group, talked about Susan's death--how she'd spend a productive day, visited with her grandkids, bought Christmas presents and the ingredients for stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey, then went to bed and died in her sleep.  He talked about the progression of her multiple sclerosis in recent years and how he was at peace with her death before the disease incapacitated her.

Others (including her other kids) talked about her career as a dancer, her work in the theatre, the founding of the two magazines--Dance Teacher Now and Stage Directions, both of which she ran out of her home she she could be at home when the kids were growing up, which grew into national slick magazines of good reputation which were bought out by a larger corporation when Susan retired.

They talked about her love of her grandkids and the fun she had with them, while photos were projected on a screen at the back--Susan in a witch's hat with a big grin, down on the floor playing with her grandkids...

A  recording of her brother speaking at her memorial service was played, while more photos were displayed--Susan with her baby brother, the two of them growing up, meeting together as of a loving sibling relationship, while the feeling were heard in the words her brother choked out on the recording.

At the conclusion of the formal remembrances, people got up to talk about their own memories and you learned the kind of person she had been--the help she gave to people, the jobs that grew into careers, the opportunities, the generosity. 

There were people who commented on how happy they were that they had told Susan, during her lifetime, of how much she meant to them and how grateful they were to have her in their lives.  Once again, we were reminded of the importance of not leaving things unsaid, of waiting until it's too late to speak your love and gratitude to to the people who mean things to you.

vets_crew.JPG (35415 bytes)I took a few pictures after the formal part of the ceremony.  The picture at the left is a wonderful photo.  Bob, at the left, is the guy who made the group at the right possible.  Bob is the head of Parks and Community Services for the city of Davis (he was Paul's boss) and all of the other guys either worked for him in high school or are still working for him today.  Greg is in the blue shirt, then Jon, who ran sound for Lawsuit, Ned--whose hair gets longer each time I see him, and Derrick.  In the front is Phil, a techie for Lawsuit (who broke his wrist yesterday in a skiing accident, with Don, who's been hanging around the theatre since he was a kid.  These guys grew up under Susan's watchful eye and it was a wonderful tribute to see how hard they all worked to make her memorial a beauitful one.

The services were followed by a beautiful buffet put together by Greg's wife, who is a party planner (let's not talk about weigh-in on Tuesday, OK?)

There were no newspaper reporters at this memorial, no political dignitaries, no professional camera crews.  What there were were people whose paths crossed the life of this special woman and who had been changed by her.  And what better legacy can one leave at the end of one's life?

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Susan and her children:  Steve, Greg, Cindy, Diane

Quote of the Day

Flowers fade, the fruits of summer fade,
they have their season so do we...
but please promise me that sometimes
you will think of me!

~ Lyrics by Charles Hart

Today's Photo

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Tribute to Susan in Dance Teacher Now, the magazine she founded

One Year Ago
Moving Day
I don't envy the kids the humongous task of unpacking they have ahead of them, but I remember how exciting it was to be moving into our own home, about 34 years ago, and I'm sure that the work will be worth it for them.

Two Years Ago
Standing in the Shadows
Why are gay relationships so trivialized by the straight community as to be discarded frivolously as it suits the whim of the straight powers that be? I may not always like the partners that my friends or relatives choose in their life, but why should my opinion about the partner have any legal bearing on the rights of the couple involved?

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Pounds Lost:  75
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer

URL Total 741.6
Blue Angel Total 619.2
2003 YTD Cumulative:  133

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