Posts Tagged ‘sad’

RIP Janet Bradley

I moved to Portland in 1993 to work for Tears of Joy Theatre, the second largest puppet theater in the U.S.  It had been founded by Reg and Janet Bradley, who still ran the company.  For years, I toured for them, built puppets, and designed shows.  Through it all, Janet juggled the schedules of four or five different touring teams, in-town shows, and the production of new works.

She was a force of nature.

Yesterday, I got word that she was in the hospital. She passed away early this morning.  The last time I talked to her, she was still running every day and didn’t appear to have aged since I met her.

Here is the notice that her daughter, Emily Alexander, sent out.

To our friends and family,

My wonderful and perfect mother, Janet Bradley, passed away early this morning. She was, as you know, a vibrant, electric, and beautiful woman. Her passing is a shock. The cause can best be described as a birth-defect of her aorta that none of us, including my mother, knew about.

She was an elegant queen with a green thumb who could turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. And she truly loved and enjoyed her life. My mom was my very best friend, and a second mother to my children. I am so grateful to have had the time we did.

My mom had so many friends, I can’t possibly reach them all. Please help me by sharing this with our mutual friends, either by facebook, or by phone. I will announce the details of her wake in the days to come. She would want a celebration of her life, and she would most certainly want flowers. Lots and lots of flowers.


She will be missed.


Dear Universe, Please give my husband a job

Dear Universe,

Please give my husband a job. He’s a really good guy and has been looking for a long time now. At least, nineteen months of sending out resumes and looking for a job, seems like a long time. I know that it is hard for everyone. Truly, I do, but I have a very smart husband, who I adore, and not working makes him sad.

So could you please check your job listings and see if there’s a spot he might fit?  The field doesn’t matter. “All work is noble” quod he.

I am linking to his website for your reference but would be happy to forward his resume in any format that you require.

Many thanks for your time and attention.

Sincerely yours,

Mary Robinette

Mourning in the early 1900s

I have, of late, been pondering the rituals of mourning.  We recently watched Downton Abbey (which is wonderful) which has a scene where family members are discussing how long they will have to wear black.  With the prevalance of the Little Black Dress today I don’t think that “taking the black” would have the same degree of significance that it once did, but it seems to me that it serves a useful function.

It gives an outward definition to the grief.  At the same time, the ritual of going to half-mourning and then resuming color gives one permission, or a dorway, to begin life on the other side of grief.  This seems useful.

The rituals are useful to the larger community as well. Though I think the practice is slipping away, largely because of the lack of pedestrians, in many places people will still stop and remove their hats when a funeral procession drives past. Ostensibly, it is a sign of respect, but I think the more important aspect is that it is a marker that in mourning, we can all have empathy for another.

One of the details in Downton Abbey that I particularly appreciated was not highlighted or remarked upon in the scene.  A character opens a letter which was bordered with black.  We only saw the back of the page, so the black border flashed for just an instant.  But it came from a family in mourning and it pleases me that the properties person paid such attention to the small details of the period.

Other cultures have vastly different mourning rituals.  The colors of grief change depending on where you are in the world.  But there have always been rituals to mark the passing of someone.

It seems to me that one of the ways in which one can make a world rich when writing is to create these layers of mourning rituals.  Not just in the rituals themselves, but in how the individual characters react to grief. Do they embrace the rituals of their society or do they spurn them?  Are there generational differences?  Just as mourning rituals differ, individuals react differently to grief.

Edited to add: By the way, if you are interested in the early 1900s, may I recommend Correct Social Usage volume 1 and volume 2.  It was written in 1906 and is very thorough and useful, although I should point out that it is an American etiquette book and so manners differ somewhat from those in Downton Abbey.