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4 Oct

You Do The Hokey Pokey And You Write An Elegy

I was mid-way through a rant about Malcolm Gladwell when I saw this tweet from my friend Jenny. “Rest in peace, Nancy W. Kappes,” it said. My heart dropped.

You probably didn’t know Nancy W. Kappes, Paralegal, but your life would have been richer if you did. Nancy was a self-professed ‘bad mom,’ an impious Catholic, a lover of bad jokes and “Judy Garland trail mix” and one of the sweetest and most supportive and laugh-out-loud funny blog readers one could ever hope to have. We met when she sent Jenny and I an email about a post that I’d written at Jenny’s blog, an email in which she shared her own strategies for coping with family politics (“sit back with a trashy book, a tumbler of Grey Goose (when I’m flush-Seagram’s when I’m not) and my huge bottle of assorted pharmaceuticals. (My “Judy Garland Trail Mix.”)“) and colorfully described her ex-husband (“he made the baby Jesus cry.”) I laughed out loud, and saved her message. If emails were made of paper, hers – the hundreds sent over the two years that followed, and the hundreds read and reread and reread again – would have been dog-eared and creased and stained with tears of laughter. I might just have to print them all out, so that they can become exactly that.

She called me Mama Cat, and she had a knack for knowing exactly when I needed to laugh or be flattered or be sternly admonished for being too hard on myself. She rarely commented on the blog itself. She preferred to send long, funny discursions on whatever I had written about. Or, sometimes, on what she hoped I’d write about. Or on the Pope, and goats.

Nancy died this weekend. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the heart, and not by her awesome goat.