Last night I attended a lecture at the college. Eleanor Clift, whom you may know from her regular weekly appearances on The McLaughlin Report (and several movies) came to speak at Hood College for the Thanatology series.
She published a book last year called Two Weeks of Life, which tells the story of the death of her husband Tom Brazaitis (a fellow journalist) which played out against the backdrop of the Terri Schiavo story. She fondly said, "He was a tough competitor. He died the day before Terri Schiavo and two days before the pope. He won the race to the pearly gates." She told an amazing tale of her life and her love of her husband. She also talked about her journey into politics from a secretarial job at Newsweek. Chuckling at herself, she said, "The irony isn't lost on me that I'm always lecturing at college campuses and I don't have a college degree!" I used to feel that way, a little embarrassed about not having a degree, a little ashamed of that even while being proud of my accomplishments.
I got the honor of asking the last question of the night. It was something that I really wanted to know the answer to. When the microphone came my way, I said, "I was wondering...in the marriage relationship, we typically lean on each other. When your husband died, who did you lean on?"
She smiled and said, "I hope you don't think this is facetious, but I have these two cats. They were named by the shelter where I got them: Precious and Little Tom. Well, Little Tom is a big 20-lb Maine Coon, and he sleeps right up on the pillow next to me. Those two cats, but particularly Little Tom were a comfort to me in those difficult days.
"Also, I had some close girlfriends. When I looked out my window one day, not long after Tom died, and saw a pigeon in obvious distress, I called my friend. She said, 'I'll be right over.'"
She went on to say that her friend had wrangled the local wildlife department into taking the pigeon in for care (though they referred to pigeons as "rats with wings"). She used Eleanor's fame and donor status to get past their resistance. Eventually it was discovered that the bird was suffering from dehydration and could not take in sustenance. They euthanized the bird. "But," she said, "at least I didn't have to watch the poor bird die on my lawn. The lesson from this is - keep your friends close. You may really need them."
I felt honored then to talk to her at the book signing afterward. I shared with her how close I am to my own animals, particularly my little Russian Blue, CC.
So Ms. Clift wrote in my copy of the book, "To Doris, My Kindred Spirit! Warmly, Eleanor Clift".
What an amazing night it was! What a strong woman she is.
And now I leave you with a little tongue-in-cheek humor from Portia DeRossi, apologizing for her marriage to Ellen and how many people it has hurt ;-)
Peace - D