Rest in Peace, Dorothy King

Okay — First and foremost, NO ONE ELSE I KNOW GETS TO DIE FOR A WHILE. I’m tired of writing these posts and I’m tired of saying goodbye. Deal?

Dorothy King is my dad’s girlfriend’s mom…and if that sounds like an informal title in a family to you, then congratulations for being the only person left living in the 1950s. My mom died in 1994. I believe Dad started seeing Susan in 1995. By my count that’s almost 20 years, and that makes her family.

I am emotionally exhausted from this week and I am not sure I have the energy to write a post right now that will do Dorothy justice. I hope this comes close. She was a good, kind, gentle, wonderful person. I wish you’d all been lucky enough to know her. You missed out if you didn’t.

The thing that will always stay with me about Dorothy is how much she embraced the fun of the experiences she had. She didn’t seem to have a harsh or dismissive word for anybody–at least not that I ever heard. She loved to laugh and she loved being with people who made her laugh. When I think of Dorothy, I think of her smiling.

Every year at Christmas–when I am SURE I will miss her most from now on–we would turn on the “Christmas Story” marathon that they show on one of the cable stations. And every time, Dorothy would talk about it like she hasn’t seen it since it was first released. When it got to the parts she particularly liked, she would laugh like it was the first time she’d ever seen it. She lived in a way that embraced and cherished every moment. We should all be so wise. I regret that I didn’t take more time to laugh with her while I had the chance.

Dorothy had a great life filled with people who loved her and found joy in places I personally would’ve missed it. And she had fun. You wouldn’t have guessed that she was 89 if you’d met her. You’d have been shocked that someone pushing 90 was still having such a good time. It wasn’t up until the very end that it wasn’t fun anymore…and maybe that’s why it was time to go.

When Graham Chapman died, fellow Python alum John Cleese said of him, “I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, of such unusual intelligence, should now so suddenly be spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.” And all I can think is that you can’t say that about Dorothy. Because, by God, she had FUN. And I’m going to say it again–we should ALL be so wise.

It is right to feel sad. It is right to mourn. It is right to cry. But in cases like this, it is also absolutely appropriate to celebrate and to have fun. I think Dorothy would be disappointed if we wept for too long. Anyone who embraced life as much as she did would not want the people she loved to stop having fun and stop celebrating–especially as she looks down from the heavens, from the greatest journey she’s ever taken, from the biggest celebration in the whole of creation. She loved bringing people happiness and would hate, hate, hate to see us be miserable just as she’s starting to have the best time of her life up there.

So right now, while we’re alive to have it, let’s have some fun, let’s have some joy, and let’s appreciate this moment. THIS one. Even in mourning, let’s sing and dance and let’s laugh like it’s the first time we’ve heard the joke.

Rest in peace, Dorothy. And thanks for showing us all how great it can be if we just embrace it.