The World Mourns…

Atticus Finch Alberti

August 6, 2005 – December 12, 2011

Atticus --- no ordinary dog

The world lost a hero this week.  Atticus Finch Alberti was the voice of reason and hope for his thousands of readers worldwide.  His special brand of commentary through his blog, Atticus Uncensored, revealed a fresh way of looking at the world; with hope, resiliency, love, abundant joy and humor.  And yes, Atticus was a canine.

Atticus left our world Monday evening in his mama’s arms after a brief, tragic illness.  He consumed a toxic plant or mushroom for which there is no antidote or cure.  Atticus was given a 1% chance to recover and his doctors valiantly pursued every course of action, but he was not meant to stay with us.

Atticus stood strong for social justice and equal rights.  He was the voice of the voiceless and opened our minds and eyes to another way of viewing our world.  Atticus took social responsibility to the highest level and gained respect from the humans who followed him.  He phone-banked for candidates who aligned with his values (well, he sat at his mama’s feet).  He walked in parades and stood with the masses of the Occupy movement.

Atticus was no ordinary dog.  He was true agent for social change, tolerance, love and peace.  He has exited this plane of existence, yet he is still with us in spirit.  A soul as deep and pure as Atticus’s will live on forever.

Here are some of the tributes that have been written about Atticus this week:

Blogger on the Rainbow Bridge  - Lisa Howard, Sacramento Bee

On Losing Attiucs The Best Canine of the Year (Decade) – Judy Stone-Goldman, The Reflective Writer

My Way of Thinking/Atticus – William Austin Howe

This is For Atticus: RIP – Franziska San Pedro, Flavor Designs

Dog Days Are Over – Louise Edington, Fabulous and Fearless


Tears and Delight

Dear loyal followers, today is a first.  In my year of blogging I have not had a guest writer until today… I’m turning over the keyboard to my mama, Heidi.  Please give her a waggy welcome.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.  ~Kahlil Gibran

This quote brings me solace.  It also makes me weep.

Three years ago today my father died and the grief I feel daily is, as Gibran beautifully states, my heart missing my delight.  My father was completely delightful.

Dad as a little boy (with Grandma Benadetta & Grandpa Del)

I had the honor (and delight) of accompanying my dad to work every day for six years of my childhood.  My father taught 3rd grade and science at Nueva Day School, my elementary school.  Nueva wasn’t an ordinary school — it was extraordinary, just like my dad.

Our school was housed in one of the historic Crocker mansions — an elaborate French chateau style abode built for the banker in Hillsborough, CA.   We had acres of formal gardens as our playground and most of 3rd grade (taught by my dad) was conducted under the giant and ancient weeping willow tree on the lower lawn.  Ahhh… so many incredible memories….

Today Nueva is full-on prep school, but in the years I was there it was a free-spirited and creative endeavor for “gifted” students (and teachers).  With the exception of the school’s director, all students were on a first name basis with their instructors.  At home my father was “dad”.  At school I called him “Del”.

The 60’s were a progressive and groovy time for sure and my dad even grew the obligatory long sideburns and mustache.  I thought he was so cool and brilliant.

And he was brilliant (“cool” remains debatable).  In my dad’s short 68 years he accomplished more than most; educated thousands, had over 20 books published and gave hundreds of speeches and seminars at universities around the country.

But my dad’s greatest accomplishments would not show up on his resume; he was an excellent husband and father, and he had the ability to make everyone he met feel important and special.

As a child, my father could make me laugh like no one else!  He had silly nicknames for us kids; I had 3 — Chloe Minerva, Shardell and Grace.  Marty was King Martin and Matthew was Baby Ergo.  I always felt special having not one, but three, private nicknames.  But of course us first-borns always get more glory!

The “tap-dancing weatherman” was a staple in dad’s comedic repertoire and I laughed every time he did it (which was nearly every evening!).  He would watch the news and — you guessed it! — tap dance his way through the kitchen describing the upcoming weather.  I can still see my mom rolling her eyes and saying “oh Del”.

My dad would tell us stories at bedtime and the stories became more elaborate when my baby brother, Matthew, was born.  He made up this wonderful ongoing tale of “the magic butterfly in the land of the dewey, dewey doo”.  I was older when my dad started this series (my youngest brother is 9 years my junior), yet I was riveted along with my brothers.

Heidi & her dad, Del

Memories are flooding my mind as I sit here at my laptop and I’m stymied by how to best articulate what I am experiencing.  Nearly every memory of my father (with the exception of the last days of his life) are filled with laugher & warmth.  I am smiling and crying at the same time as I reminisce about my dad.

Yesterday, my mom, brother Marty and I spent the afternoon doing something we knew my dad would love;  went to see a silly movie followed by a pasta dinner — two things my dad adored.  Note:  Matthew lives in Tucson and was unable to join us.

My father would have really enjoyed our afternoon but he should have been with us.  Life isn’t fair — I get that — but to lose such a fantastic man at such a young age just doesn’t feel right.

Dear Atticus followers, please forgive me for taking his space today.  I am clearly not as articulate or cleaver as my dog (or my dad), and I thank you for this indulgence.