obits, royals

Queen Elizabeth II is dead after a long lifetime of service and sacrifice…

I knew we were going to get bad news about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when I noticed announcements on YouTube about her doctors advising that she be under medical supervision. Buckingham Palace never makes those kinds of announcements unless something big is about to happen. I soon found myself on Jesus Enrique Rosas’ YouTube channel, of all places. He was having a live stream, talking about Queen Elizabeth’s declining health. Some people in Britain commented that the Queen had already died sometime around 2:00pm, UK time, but they were waiting for all of the family members to arrive in Balmoral before making an official announcement.

How did they know? Some had mentioned that members of the press were wearing black ties. I hadn’t known until yesterday that the black ties were a sign. Apparently, the BBC had regularly rehearsed the announcement of the Queen’s inevitable death for years. I read somewhere that they rehearsed the procedure every six months, and always had black ties on hand for anchormen to don immediately, when they announcement finally came. Below is a video about the protocol that I stumbled across yesterday. It was made in 2017. And here’s an article by The Guardian written on the subject of protocol when “London Bridge falls”.

Very interesting video about Operation London Bridge. I had no idea.
Such a shock… and yes, the anchor is wearing black, as is tradition.

I shed a few tears yesterday when the news was confirmed that Queen Elizabeth had, in fact, crossed the bar at last. My earliest memories are of living in England, although I was not born there. We were living in England when the Queen had her Silver Jubilee in 1977, and my parents bought memorabilia from that event, which was always on display in our home. I always felt a kinship with Britain, and while a lot of Britons don’t care much for the monarchy, I have always been fascinated by it. I especially loved the fact that Queen Elizabeth II was such a big fan of horses and dogs. I have that in common with her.

Queen Elizabeth II has always struck me as a lovely person with a good sense of humor, warmth and consideration for other people, and a remarkable attitude toward service. Just a couple of days ago, she met Liz Truss, Britain’s brand new prime minister. Although this ceremony has historically taken place at Buckingham Palace, because the 96 year old queen had been in poor health and had mobility issues, Ms. Truss visited her at Balmoral, near Aberdeen, Scotland. There were photos of the event, which circulated widely, with the queen smiling and shaking the new prime minister’s hand while clutching a walking stick. Liz Truss is the 15th prime minister to meet the queen, and she is Britain’s third female prime minister. I almost get the sense that Her Majesty waited to do this one last duty before slipping off the mortal coil and meeting her beloved Prince Philip and the countless dogs and horses who predeceased her.

With the Queen’s passing, Britain now has a new King– Charles III– and a new Queen Consort, Camilla. Prince William and his wife, Catherine, have now become the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Rothesay, in addition to Cambridge. They have inherited Cornwall and Rothesay from Charles and Camilla. I suspect that very soon, Prince William and his wife will also inherit the title of the Prince and Princess of Wales, although that isn’t a given, since that title isn’t one that passes automatically. Maybe I shouldn’t care about these things, since I’m an American. But, as I mentioned before, I spent a lot of time in Britain, and had it not been for my ancestors, I would be a Brit myself, based only on my overwhelmingly British DNA.

They are about to be even busier than they ever were.

Prince Harry wasn’t able to get to Balmoral in time to say goodbye to his grandmother before she passed. He and Meghan have been in Europe on a speaking tour. They’d had plans in London, but obviously, those had to be canceled. Meghan is said to have stayed in London, which was no doubt the wisest thing to do, under the circumstances. I’m sure that in time, there will be a documentary about all that went down yesterday, and it will be interesting to see. For now, it just seems so surreal that Queen Elizabeth II is gone. She always reminded me so much of my own Granny, and I’ve always admired her for so many reasons– from her love of horses and dogs, to her colorful sense of fashion and style, to her sense of humor, to the way she always seemed to keep a stiff upper lip, no matter what. I’m glad for her that she was able to pass in the place where she reportedly felt most comfortable– in Scotland. I can’t blame her for feeling that way. Scotland is a wonderful place. It was especially fitting to see that there was a double rainbow over Buckingham Palace yesterday, just after the queen’s passing– even though she passed in Scotland, not London.

Queen Elizabeth II was not born to be a queen, but had that duty thrust upon her. She handled with with grace and sobriety, leading through so many eras during her incredible 70 years on the throne. No matter what one might think of the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II was an amazing woman who showed great fortitude in good times and bad. I will miss her for many reasons. She was a role model to me, even though I’m not one to follow role models very well. I hope she’s resting in peace, reunited with Prince Philip in paradise… but I realize that no one really knows what happens when death occurs. If she can’t be in Heaven with everyone she’s ever loved, animals included, I hope she at least enjoyed some beautiful hallucinations as she drifted away.

Something else was on my mind yesterday. Just before our walk yesterday, I noticed that the lymph nodes in Arran’s hind legs appeared to be enlarged. I felt them, and they are, in fact, swollen. We just passed our third anniversary of our sweet beagle, Zane’s, death from lymphoma. My first clue that Zane was so sick was noticing that he had swollen lymph nodes under his jaws and hearing him bark with hoarseness. Both Zane and Arran had suffered from mast cell tumors, and lymphoma is a known complication of that disease. We didn’t know Zane was so sick because we had been on vacation in Scotland, of all places, and lymphoma can be deadly very quickly. We lost Zane just one week after we found out about the cancer.

I do worry that Arran might also have lymphoma. He has a vet appointment today, because he’s been acting lethargic. However, unlike Zane, he seems to have improved since my initial concern, the swollen lymph nodes notwithstanding. He wanted to take a walk yesterday, and is eating well, if not a bit slowly. Just now, he went outside, drank some water, and parked himself behind my office chair. Hopefully, the swollen lymph nodes are not caused by cancer this time– especially since they so far seem confined to his popliteal nodes. The right one is noticeably larger than the left, rather than uniform, as they were with Zane. His eyes are bright, and his mast cell tumors have never affected him the way they did Zane. But, just as the queen was, our Arran is quite elderly at about 14 years old. Eventually, we will have to say goodbye to him, too.

One thing I have noticed is that ever since Arran encountered the resident hedgehog in our backyard, I have seen some fleas. Hedgehogs are notorious for having fleas, although the kind they have are breed specific and don’t infest household pets. However, hedgehog fleas do still bite, and Arran did have some blood work done recently that indicated a slightly low level of red blood cells. Perhaps that could be related to Arran’s current state. I gave both dogs baths yesterday, just to see if I saw any telltale evidence of an actual flea infestation. Unfortunately, having grown up in Virginia in the 80s with dogs, I have seen my fair share of the pesky little fuckers. But there weren’t any fleas, nor was there any evidence of “flea dirt” in the bath water. Arran is an old guy, though, so if fleas are biting him, that could conceivably affect his blood work. He doesn’t have the resilience he once had, when he was a young dog. I was worried about him being lethargic, and slow to eat, although he always does eat eventually. Anyway, we’ll see what the vet says. With any luck, we can get him back to feeling like his old self for awhile longer.

Bill comes back from his business trip today. It will be good to see him. I always miss him when he’s gone, but I especially missed him last night, as I heard the news about the beloved British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. It will be interesting to see how Charles carries on as King Charles. His reign is bound to be short, though. He probably won’t even make it to the Silver Jubilee that my parents attended all those years ago, when we lived in Britain. I wish Charles luck. I know a lot of people don’t like him because of what happened between him and Diana, but I’ve always thought of him as sort of a tortured soul. It’s been nice to see him obviously much happier with Camilla, who should have been his wife from the beginning. They are clearly soulmates. So I wish them both the best, as they have a huge undertaking, following the second longest reigning monarch of all time, and the longest reigning British monarch. I hope William is preparing, too… because I suspect it won’t be too long before he’s called upon to follow his father. He won’t be waiting 70 years; that is for certain.

One last thing… I am a child of the 70s and 80s, so I can’t help but remember an infamously rude 1986 era song by The Smiths about the monarchy. The song is called “The Queen is Dead”, and it’s definitely a song of antipathy. I have a feeling it may catch on in the coming weeks, as some people are already making tasteless jokes about the queen’s passing. While I don’t agree with the song’s sentiment toward the monarchy, I have to admit to liking The Smiths… this song included.

The lyrics are pretty damning.
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mental health, obits, psychology

This morning, I learned about the late Norah Vincent… now I want to read her books.

Prior to this morning, I had never heard of the late author, Norah Vincent. Then I read the New York Times obituary that detailed her remarkable life and the books she wrote. Now, I’m going to have to add some of her books to my pile to be read. I wish I had found her in the early 00s, when she was a “media darling” for passing as a man for about 18 months as research for her book, Self-Made Man. The book was an instant best seller. Vincent was a lesbian, and she identified as a woman. Her pronouns were “she/her”. She was not transgender or non binary. She simply wanted to explore what it’s like to pass as a man in today’s world. Or, at least as it was circa 2003 or so, when she was a 35 year old journalist.

Vincent went to great pains to be convincing in her quest to “pass” as a guy. She got coaching from a voice teacher at Julliard, who taught her how to deepen her voice. She bound her breasts with a too small sports bra and wore a jockstrap with a realistic prosthetic penis in it. She cut her hair very short, and learned from a makeup artist how to make it look like she had beard stubble. She even built up her back and shoulder muscles through workouts designed to increase her upper body strength. Then she did hard core “masculine” things, like joining a bowling team, a la Fred Flintstone. During her time posing as a man, she called herself Ned, dated women, went to strip clubs, and experienced being “rebuffed” at bars.

The experience led to a reportedly excellent book, but according to her obituary, it took a toll on her mental health. She was left disoriented and alienated to the point at which she checked herself into a hospital to recover from severe depression. She spent the next year and a half bouncing from hospital to hospital, which resulted in her next book, Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin. That one sounds even more intriguing to me than the first!

More books followed, and people got to know her controversial maverick style. I haven’t read any of Norah Vincent’s books yet, but I can already tell that I’m probably going to enjoy her writing, just by reading her obituary. The author of the obit, Penelope Green, writes:

Ms. Vincent was a lesbian. She was not transgender, or gender fluid. She was, however, interested in gender and identity. As a freelance contributor to The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice and The Advocate, she had written essays on those topics that inflamed some readers.

She was a libertarian. She tilted at postmodernism and multiculturalism. She argued for the rights of fetuses and against identity politics, which she saw as infantilizing and irresponsible. She did not believe that transsexuals were members of the opposite sex after they had surgery and had taken hormones, a position that led one writer to label her a bigot. She was a contrarian, and proud of it.

Even though I doubt I would agree with a lot of Ms. Vincent’s opinions, I have a feeling I would enjoy reading about them. I admire people who are brave enough to express themselves and do so with intelligence and style. I like reading well considered and thought out viewpoints, even if they don’t agree with my own. I read that she was for fetal rights, but somehow, I doubt her argument is going to be the same as some of the pro-life males’ arguments in any comment section of a mainstream newspaper’s. I doubt her comments will be based on religious or political dogmas, as are most opinions shared by everyday people. I do think it’s interesting that she was pro-fetal rights, especially given the way she exited her life.

According to her New York Times obituary, Norah Vincent died on July 6, 2022, at age 53, having gone to a clinic in Switzerland to end her own life. In my review of Amy Bloom’s recent book, In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss, which was about Bloom’s husband’s decision to end his life at Dignitas, a Swiss organization that helps people commit suicide, I wrote about how people can more easily end their own lives in Switzerland than they can in the United States. I don’t know what reasons Vincent used to justify ending her life. According to Bloom’s book, even the folks at Dignitas have to be convinced that the person committing suicide isn’t clinically depressed. The obituary doesn’t mention a terminal illness, other than mental illness. Below is exactly what Penelope Green wrote in Vincent’s obit:

Ms. Vincent died on July 6 at a clinic in Switzerland. She was 53. Her death, which was not reported at the time, was confirmed on Thursday by Justine Hardy, a friend. The death, she said, was medically assisted, or what is known as a voluntary assisted death.

Having experienced clinical depression and anxiety myself, I have a slight inkling of what may have been tormenting her. Whether or not people want to realize it, mental illness is still medical illness, and it can make living very difficult. It sounds to me like Vincent was an unusually sensitive soul with unique ideas and incredible powers of creativity. Sometimes that combination in a person can be devastating, as the person goes from brilliance to despair. Perhaps her creativity made her experience life on a much more intense level that was just too much to bear. Or, maybe something else was going on that she chose not to disclose, because frankly, it’s no one else’s business.

A lot of people in the comment section, many of whom obviously didn’t read the article, were making wrong assumptions about her. Some were even bold enough to use her story, which they never bothered to read, to support their own theories about gender politics. I wish people would read more. And I wish they would at least read comments by people who have read before they chime in with their own opinions. Alas, people don’t want to spend the money on a subscription or take the time to read. Yet they want to be heard. I would like to know why we should listen to people who don’t bother to listen to others. I think it would be great if, somehow, social media platforms could determine if people had read before allowing them to post. It’s a pipe dream, I know. Especially given our First Amendment rights in the United States, which overall are a good thing.

I still have a lot of books to be read, so it may be a long time before I get to Norah Vincent. But I hope I do, because she sounds fascinating. I wish I had discovered her before she exited life. And the comments about her are equally interesting– from those who didn’t read and assumed she died in the United States, to those who accused her of being “ableist” for the title of her second book (even though she was suffering from mental illness herself).

I don’t know about you, but it really is becoming exhausting keeping up with all of the “ist” labels people throw out these days. You can’t win, no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on. Why do people have to put labels on behaviors the so-called “woke folks” determine are somehow “harmful”? I don’t like the term “snowflake”, because I think it’s become very cliched. However, I do think that constantly judging and criticizing people for their thoughts and opinions makes life more difficult than it needs to be. It’s tiresome and obnoxious. But maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety… and tired of the thought police.

Gonna close this post now, and head over to Amazon to buy a couple of Norah Vincent’s books, which I hope to review in the near future. I’m sure whomever is in charge of her estate will appreciate the sales. If you want to join me, you can click one of the links below. If you purchase through either link, I will get a small commission from Amazon, which would be nice for me. But if you don’t want to do that, that’s fine too. Because I don’t blog for money, in spite of what some people wrongly ASSUME about me. Below are the two I’m most interested in at this point.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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celebrities, music, obits

Grace and gratitude: a fond farewell to Olivia Newton-John…

Just as I was going to bed last night, I got the news that Olivia Newton-John had died at age 73, having spent the past three decades battling breast cancer. I have been an Olivia fan since I was about– oh, I don’t know, maybe three or four years old. I have always loved her very sweet voice, from the time she was an up and coming country star until she was a guest star on Glee.

There were a few interludes in her career that I liked somewhat less. I wasn’t a big fan of the song “Physical” when it was popular, probably because it was such a departure from what she had been doing in the 70s. Also, I got super sick of that song, because it was constantly on the radio and MTV. But, as I got older, I came to appreciate her in almost every incarnation, even when she was doing super sexed up songs like “Soul Kiss” and “Tied Up”. I listened to her less in the 90s, although I know she put out some new age type music then. I also remember she had an Aussie clothing line called Koala Blue.

Then, in 2016, she joined singer-songwriters Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky on the album Liv On. What I loved about that album was that all of the songs were so beautiful, with lyrics that were comforting, grateful, and consoling coupled with gorgeous melodies and harmonies. The trio must have known people would want to sing these songs, since they also released a karaoke version. On more than one occasion, when I’ve listened to Liv On, I’ve found myself choked up with emotion. I’m not sure why they put out an album with so many emotional songs on it. Maybe it was because Olivia had battled breast cancer, as did Beth Nielsen-Chapman. I just read that Amy Sky’s mother also suffered and died of breast cancer, so she has also been very active in raising money for breast cancer research. Indeed, Olivia even opened a research center in Australia to help battle cancer.

I know Olivia was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in the 90s, but she went into remission. In 2013, the disease came back, and a few years after that, it had spread to her spine. I read that the pain was pretty unbearable during this time, yet there was Olivia, so sunny, upbeat, pretty, and blonde. She always looked like an angel to me, even when she was supposed to be sexy, like at the end of Grease, when she traded her plain pink frocks for black leather, satin pants, and heels. Those winsome looks, combined with her beautiful voice, were enchanting to me. She was the one rare singer my dad and I could always agree on when we were in the car together. And I always admired her positive outlook and genuinely sweet demeanor, always delivered with good humor.

My favorite Olivia era is the 70s. I used to listen to three specific albums repeatedly: If You Love Me Let Me Know, from 1974, Don’t Stop Believin’ from 1976, and Making A Good Thing Better, from 1977, which my dad had on 8 track. Years later, I also fell in love with her 1975 album, Have You Never Been Mellow. To this day, I’ll often put on that album when I need to calm down. In fact, in my memories yesterday, I even mentioned that song, as I remembered moving to Texas in 2013, where we would stay only a year before leaving the United States for Germany. I remember being awed by her powerful vocals when she took on big songs like “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” And I always got a good laugh when I heard her try songs like “Ring of Fire”, which she gave a disco bent flavored with country, or “I’ll Bet You A Kangaroo”, which was no doubt a tribute to Australia, her adopted homeland.

Olivia’s music got me through many rough times. It also helped me bond with others. One of my best friends in college, a guy named Chris, was (and still is) a huge Olivia fan. He even went as far as to get a picture with her and an autograph, which he posted on Facebook yesterday. She was the one person whose albums he would always buy, and pretty much the only person whose music we could discuss without him managing to piss me off (don’t get him started about James Taylor). I loved to sing her songs at karaoke shows, and would often bond with others who liked her music, too. She was always a popular choice!

I even enjoyed Olivia’s forays into acting. I especially loved Xanadu, which was released when I was seven years old. I didn’t see it until a couple of years later, when we had HBO. In the early 80s, that movie was constantly showing on the cable movie networks. It bombed at the box office, but the soundtrack was awesome! And for 8 and 9 year old me, it was a magical film, with so many special effects and fantasy elements. Yes, as a 50 year old, I know it’s a cheesy film with a ridiculous plot, but I still count it as a favorite guilty pleasure. It, too, is something I watch when I need to cheer up. I can always count on Olivia to make me smile and soothe my soul with her sweet, warm, powerful voice.

I probably won’t do her justice, but I’ve decided to try a couple of songs from Liv On, as my own tribute to Olivia. We’ll see how they go. I would like to do some of her early stuff, too, but as it’s early in the morning, I figure my voice will probably hold out better with some of her more recent, more vocally forgiving songs. So watch this space, because this is where I’ll share the results, when they’re ready… which if I know myself, will be in a couple of hours or so.

A pretty song I tried from Liv On… You might recognize the lyrics.

I was going to do a second song. I may decide to do it tomorrow. I almost had it wired this morning, but Arran and Noyzi were demanding a walk, and then I decided it was too hot to try another. So maybe tomorrow… if only for the challenge of it, and the fact that I will always love channeling my inner Olivia.

I finally managed “Grace and Gratitude” a month after I posted this…

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family, healthcare, memories, obits

I’ve finally joined the COVID Club… and saying goodbye to my Uncle Ed…

I swear, on Friday, I thought I was feeling better. I was feeling well enough that I thought maybe we could go to a wine fest this weekend. But yesterday, I realized that I felt tired, and didn’t really want to walk around in the hot sun. We stayed home and hung out. This morning, I woke up early, then fell asleep until 9:00 am, which is unusual for me these days. Remembering that COVID tests can end up being positive a couple of days after a negative test, I took a test this morning. Sure enough, it came up positive. See the featured photo for proof.

Bill has no symptoms of COVID. He has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, so he’s going to test. I’ll be surprised if he’s negative, but he hasn’t been sick. I can think of a few places where I might have picked up this germ, even though we haven’t done much in the past couple of weeks. I probably got it at the wine stand, since we ran into a fellow American who said that COVID had visited their house and her partner was still sick with it.

I’m not very sick. I’m just kind of tired and a little crankier than usual. I have a productive cough, some nasal congestion, and a low grade fever. It honestly feels like the back end of a cold. I think last month’s sickness was a cold, because I had a really runny nose that was so bad that my skin got raw. This time, I didn’t get a runny nose, but I do have a slight fever, which I didn’t get last month. Anyway, I am no longer a “COVID virgin”. I figured this was bound to happen sooner or later, though. I’m glad I got vaccinated, because this isn’t much fun, but it’s nothing deadly. At least not at this point.

Speaking of deadly… I got confirmation this morning that my Uncle Ed, has, in fact, crossed over to the other side. I don’t know the details, other than it happened in the morning. I chatted with my sister yesterday, and she said that Ed had a mass on his lung that he decided not to treat. She said he also had a skin condition, along with pneumonia. The man was 85 years old, so it was probably time for him to go. I don’t feel sad that he died, but I do wish our last conversation hadn’t been the way it was.

I have a lot of good memories of my uncle. When I was about ten years old, he took a bunch of us cousins to the James River and we went fishing with homemade fishing poles and worms. Another time, he took us to Tank Hollow, a swimming hole near my Granny’s house. We all rode in the back of my uncle’s pickup truck… ahh, the things we could get away with in the late 70s and early 80s! I remember jumping off the waterfall into the frigid mountain water, having the time of my life.

In later years, Ed was a lot of fun at our family reunions every Thanksgiving. I remember dancing with him once and cutting a really nasty fart. He laughed at me and said, “YOU FARTED!” And I remember sharing moonshine with him, as he told funny stories about my dad, his older brother. As they got older, my dad and Ed looked like twins. Dad was four years older, though, and died four years younger than Ed has. Both of them died in July… Dad on the 9th, and Ed on the 23rd. Two weeks apart, and Ed’s death is a day after the fifteenth anniversary of Granny’s death.

Unfortunately, Dad and Ed also had alcoholism in common, and they were both abusive when they drank too much. Actually, my dad was usually kind of melancholy when he drank, but sometimes he’d go into violent rages. I don’t know how Ed was on a normal “bender”, but I was once on the receiving end of one of his tirades… in fact, that was the last time we communicated. I can’t abide verbal abuse anymore. I’ve been too saturated with it, and now when someone goes “off” on me, that’s pretty much the death knell for the relationship. I make exceptions for a few people, but I’ve found that people who feel emboldened enough to be verbally abusive don’t tend to learn from their mistakes.

Ed was mostly a lot of fun, though. He was, overall, a great uncle to me. I like to think of him going to his late wife, Nance, who died in 2010 after having had Alzheimer’s Disease and a heart attack. Together, they were boisterous and opinionated, and they had a lot of spirited debates fueled by Wild Turkey and Busch beer. They were both very politically conservative, but I think Nance was more liberal about some things than Ed was.

I remember Nance having a very spirited debate with my late cousin, Karen. Karen was a devout Christian and very pro life. She was wearing a pro-life t-shirt. Nance took her to task over it, because she had been a nurse for Planned Parenthood, and she had seen scared girls who sought abortions. It changed her opinion about abortion. And Nance was the kind of “in your face” person who would get into arguments at the drop of a hat. She confronted Karen about her shirt, and the two of them had a discussion about abortion in my grandmother’s kitchen. Karen was going on about how abortion was an affront to God, and it was wrong to destroy God’s creations. And Nance was all about the practical, having been a nurse, and knowing that sometimes having an abortion is the most responsible and compassionate action a person can take. It was an interesting conversation. I didn’t enjoy getting into arguments with either of them myself, but it was kind of fun being a spectator when they debated.

It’s strange to think that Nance, Karen, and Ed are all gone now, but if there is a Heaven, they’re probably all rejoicing at the reunion. I like to think of them as all healthy, vital, and having spirited debates with all the Wild Turkey they want… although I don’t think Karen was a fan of boozing.

Anyway… I hope Ed is at peace and has reunited with the ones who went before him. And I hope I get over this sickness soon. It’s been cramping my style for six days now. I’m so glad I didn’t go anywhere this week, except for a walk. I guess I’ll keep taking it easy, and hopefully will be on the mend very soon. I’m tired of my style being cramped. I want to make some music again. Guess I’ll have to stick to guitar until all this snot goes away.

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celebrities, music, obits

Rest in peace, Naomi Judd…

It’s been a very busy few days for Bill and me. As part of a tour, we left Florence yesterday for a night in beautiful Cortona, Italy. Our day was broken up by stops at a couple of wineries. We are going to visit a couple more places today, then head back to Florence for another night. Tomorrow morning, we will make our way to Vaduz for our last two nights of this vacation. It’s been a rather epic trip. I look forward to writing the whole story about it when we get home. I also look forward to sleeping in my own bed and seeing my dogs.

I hadn’t actually wanted to go on this trip, but it’s turned out to be pretty awesome, for the most part. I’m glad Bill convinced me. It just struck me how weird that sounds… my husband had to convince me to travel to Italy! But, in the wake of all of the crazy and bad stuff happening in the world, yes, it’s understandable why someone might be reluctant to go out and live it up. I think we’ve all been having hard times lately, although some people have definitely had it much worse than others have.

Last night, I read the very sad news about Naomi Judd, of The Judds. Ashley and Wynonna Judd both posted:

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,”

“We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public… We are in unknown territory.”

Naomi’s husband, Larry Strickland, also gave a statement: “Naomi Judd’s family request privacy during this heartbreaking time. No additional information will be released at this time.”

The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame today.

Like most others who have written about this news, the assumption is that Naomi Judd may have taken her own life. But that has not been confirmed, at this writing. When I heard the news, I was immediately reminded of The Judds’ story about their hardscrabble existence in eastern Kentucky. Wynonna and Ashley are a few years older than I am, so I could relate to them in the way I relate to my sisters. I admired how talented all three women were, and how they made it in the very difficult world of entertainment.

I remember reading about Naomi Judd’s work as a nurse before she became a star. Later, in 1991, she temporarily gave up performing because she had contracted Hepatitis C. I even remember reading a letter she wrote to the editors at People Magazine about her illness. She mentioned in the letter that she had been a nurse, and her statement came from a place of knowledge as a healthcare provider. That was impressive to me on yet another front. She never forgot her roots, which made her seem like someone with depth and character.

I also recall that the Judds had a reality show at one point, which highlighted the sometimes difficult relationships she had with her daughters. I also know that Wynonna’s own daughter, Grace Pauline Kelly, also had serious issues with drug addiction and spent some time in prison. She was apparently released last year. Her son, Elijah, seems to have been less troubled. He got married to his longterm girlfriend in 2020.

I never got to see the Judds perform, but I did see Wynonna at a short concert at an Army ball back in 2003. I have always respected the talented duo, and their music always brings back a lot of memories for me in my younger days. I don’t know what specific issues led to Naomi’s death, but I always thought of her as a very beautiful and gifted lady. I know she served as a role model to so many people, especially given how they all made it against the odds. Naomi, Wynonna, and Ashley were a feminine force to so many of us who grew up during the time when they were huge stars. They seemed to flourish together. I know her family is heartbroken to lose her.

One of my favorite songs by The Judds.

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll hear more about what happened and why… not that it matters that much to anyone, except to satisfy their curiosity. Naomi was a beautiful, gifted woman, and my heart goes out to all who loved her. She gave a lot to the world and her legacy will continue every time someone listens to her sing.

As for me… I can chalk this up to one more celebrity who has passed away while I’ve been living in Europe. I’ve been over here when a lot of the world’s biggest stars have moved on to the next realm…Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, Prince, Aretha Franklin, etc. Now I can add Naomi Judd to the list. This may seem like a strange comment to make, but then, I’m kind of a strange person. đŸ˜‰

I’m kind of ready for this trip to wind down. I love traveling, and vacations are always fun for me, but I’m also a bit of an introverted homebody. So this excursion will probably hold me for awhile until I need another trip.

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