memorial for a brilliant woman

Sunday, January 05, 2014


(read during her service today, 01/05/2014)

I know to some it might be a bit crass to say this, but I think if this sudden and tragic turn of events could have a headline attached, Poet Crushed by Two Tons of Irony would work. Between the near take-off of her American Housewife Haiku, an optimistic prognosis leading us to believe here is the last place we would end up, and then a possible near-miss turned into a total disaster just before Christmas, it sounds about right. Now, to describe it that way sounds terrible, but If I know my mother, and I sure hope I do, I can see her laughing at the sheer perfection of absurdity in this, like Much Ado About Nothing adapted by Frank Zappa and directed by David Lynch albeit with fewer dwarves speaking in reverse. As a family, we always did enjoy a good, dark comedy, though it’s challenging from time to time when you discover you live in one.

Ultimately, everyone here has a different experience of Shann Palmer or Sharon Radabaugh, as some know her as one or the other and still to others, she’s both. To me, mother, savior, friend, mentor, ringleader--a veritable Voltron for you millennials in the crowd, manned by Glinda the Good Witch, John Connor, Samwise Gamgee, Yoda, and maybe Vito Corleone in the left foot. To others, the metaphor might be even more complicated. But one viewpoint I know we all share in knowing her is her sense of humor and the bright, brilliant light she brought to the world around her. Although she’s not physically sitting here with us right now, I can feel that each and every one of us carries within a sliver of her goodness and positivity just from having known her in this all too often dark and tumultuous world.

And speaking of goodness and positivity, though this might have the backdrop of a dreary day in the Great Gray Beast of January in Virginia at a somber moment of reflection with some songs of lament no doubt thrown in at the reception--and trust me, I’ll be singing one, myself--I can see her over next to the organ saying "are you guys kidding me?" Because despite her leaving she would not want any of us to sit in solemn silence or dwell or pontificate "what-ifs" and how the people of Earth-225 must surely be faring better. She craved and had a zest for life greater than anyone I’ve ever known outside of fiction, and a gratitude for the time she had and the family and friends she cherished above all. So, if we all can take that sliver of her essence and carry it forward into the world and spread love and gratitude and good humor for the rest of our lives, we will never have lost her, because she’ll always be here. But for today, laugh and remember her as the sharp, witty, wonderful woman you knew, and tell her story and sing her songs. And if you must cry, cry for joy that you were one of the fortunate souls to cross her path in this wide world of ours, for the only ones who suffer today are those who never knew her.


Charlie Palmer a.k.a. Paul Radabaugh 1/05/2014

1 comment:

Composition House Cartoonists said...

Hi Paul - The Entin's from art6 were at the Memorial Service in the overflow area and told me how great the service was - sorry I could not be there - thanks for posting this! A number of art6 members were at the Va Museum poetry reading dedicated to your Mom and we hope a reading will be planned of exclusively your Mom's poems - keep us posted , thanks - David