Atticus’s Impact

By Heidi

Dearest FOA’s

As you can imagine, I am still in a state of shock and grief…missing my beloved Atticus.  Slowly, I am regaining my footing from the abyss of sadness and emptiness.

Through my devastation, I’ve been buoyed by the warm and loving thoughts for Atticus that have come to me through the website, emails, cards, facebook and twitter.  Atticus was certainly no ordinary dog and he had friends all over the world.

I’ve decided to share a small sampling of the wise and wonderful words that have floated my way over the past few weeks.  You can also find wonderful tributes and comments in the post The World Mourns.

“Be at peace knowing we have family/friends in high places. Not an ending but merely a new beginning. As in birth there seems to always be tears through the transition. With Love, Faith, and Understanding. Our deepest condolences. “ ~ Scott Richardson, Napa, CA

Atticus never stopped smiling (a good lesson for all of us)

“Sometimes someone or something touches your heart and opens your spirit to new thoughts and understandings. I believe Atticus and you have highlighted issues and ideas that encouraged people to think outside their comfort zone and as a result your readers become better people and citizens. These are incredible accomplishments for a humble pup and his much loved Mom.” ~ Catherine Balck, Crescent City, CA

“I’m completely amazed at all of the warm messages that people are writing! I’m so proud to be related to such a strong person who fights for the good in the world! I’m sad that Atticus is gone but it’s so awesome that he helped make the world a better place! SO PAWSOME! love you!” ~ Chelsea Gregory, Madrid, Spain

“Many of you know that Atticus, Heidi Alberti‘s wonderful canine friend, passed on a couple of days ago. Atti had become a part of the FB community as well as the much larger community surrounding Heidi. This post by Judy Stone-Goldman is both beautifully written and poignant, and a great tribute to Atti. Attitus- enjoy running through meadows of wild flowers and of course, always speaking your mind. You will be missed.” ~Candace Davenport, CA

“I know that just hearing about Atticus’ antics would bring a smile to my face and that is how I plan to keep his

Michelle's pup wearing his Atticus Memorial Antlers

memory alive. I am going to get some antlers and put them on my dog for Christmas as a memorial for Atticus. Love & hugs to you ♥” ~ Michelle Barbieri Burt, CA

Meeting Sara -- one of Atti's first FOA's

“The very first time I ever read Atticus Uncensored the feelings I immediately felt were peace & happiness! Atti’s humor came shining through too! I, along with many, will miss Atti! He will never be forgotten! ♥ ♥” ~ Sara Neely, AZ

“I’m feel so blessed to have known Atticus through his blog and am quite sure that he is romping with Maci and Suzie and all of our beloved foor footed friends who have crossed over the rainbow bridge. Take solace in the fact that they will all be waiting for us when we cross over as well.” ~ Lori Gallagher Wainio, CA

“Atticus really will be missed terribly by everyone ~ we actually referred to The Circulation Desk as 4 Girls and a Dog. There is certainly a new angel in heaven tonight bringing them his special pawspective.” ~ Laine Dakin, AZ

“I have changed my profile picture in honor of Atticus and am so sad that he is no longer here to educate and brighten our days. My thoughts and prayers are with his mom, Heidi Alberti who is hurting deeply; please send her your love and words of comfort. I will miss him, too.” ~ Donna McCord, CA

When Atti met Donna (love at first lick!)

@AtticusUncensor As someone said : born a dog, died a gentleman. Be proud of who he was, as we all are, around the world.” ~ Sevi Ponti, Athens Greece via twitter

“I can’t imagine the world without Atticus’ amazing and effervescent spirit.” ~ Sabrina Thompson, CA

“Hugs, Heidi. Wish I had the right words and could give you a real hug instead of a virtual one. All I can say is thank you for seeing the wise, noble spirit in Atticus and sharing him with so many. ❤” ~ Connie Harrington Waring

“Atticus is one of those special dogs who will be remembered by all.” ~ Dr. Jen Arnold, DVM, Sacramento

“It that absolutely breaks my heart to hear about Atti! I remember him as a puppy up on Bainbridge Island and had so much fun with you guys up in Folsom. Feel free to call anytime! I miss you and will surely miss Atticus as well :-( “ ~ Mateo Taylor, US Marine

Atticus always had a special love for Mateo

“The amazing bond you share with him will continue forever in your heart and in his. What a treasure it has been to be among those sharing in his life, and in your joy of being his Mama.” ~ Diane Cleaver McKee, CA

“We are here for you. Anything you need. Atticus brought light, love, and magic to so many. YOU are an amazing mom…You were lucky to have each other, though I doubt luck had much to do with it. It was just meant to be that you would be together.” ~ Jamie Leigh Himmelstein, CA

“My dear on-line friend Heidi Alberti said good-bye to her beloved Atticus, a dog of definite distinction and powerful voice for social justice and love (yes, the dog’s voice!) This is devastating news for all of us who followed Heidi and Atticus in the blog. “ ~ Judy Stone Goldman, Seattle WA

“Atticus will always remain an inspiration to pet lovers and his followers who have shared his energy and pawsitive thoughts through your writings.” ~ Jeff Jaworski, Sacramento Bee

”My prayers are going out to both you and Atticus today. Take your time processing it all and be patient with yourself….. the healing will come with time. You both were blessed to have shared so much together! Be well… Peace” ~ Cory Dudley, Colorado


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


Death of a Bookstore

As I recuperate, all my energy is concentrated on my healing.  With the little bit of zest remaining I’ve been reading and watching a little telly between naps, but I long to get out and about.

I understand that my body needs all the rest it can get and that I’m not supposed to run or jump (or do anything fun!), but I’m getting cabin fever.  My cone comes off tomorrow (can you hear my cheers?) and I know I’ll be back to the park and all my rambunctious activities soon, but today I just needed to get out.

Sensing my mounting stir-craziness, mama allowed Wilbur and I to accompany her to the bank and petrol station, including the drive-thru carwash.  I know this doesn’t sound like the most thrilling outing to most, but I was ecstatic!

As we were headed to gas up the dog-mobile I noticed one of those dancing humans with a sign on the

who doesn't love a good book? (and bookstore)

corner;  Borders — Everything Must Go.  70% off!  I wondered if there was anything left for me to browse and convinced mum to take us inside.

The death of a bookstore is not just sad… it’s brick & mortar grief!  I’m not a huge shopper & neither is my human, but we do adore bookstores and libraries.  All the stories, poetry, literature, biography, pet-reference books!  All the phrasing, alliterations, punctuation… all the Words!  As I itemize the losses I am wounded over and over again…. not by daggers but by paper cuts…

Border’s has been discounting their merchandise lower and lower each week since they announced their dissolution and I wondered what would be left.  Surprisingly, the store still had a fair amount of inventory.  It was a mess with employees shifting product around, hanging signs like “war history now in children’s area” and taping off sections with what looked like police investigation tape.

what should I read first?

I suppose the crime tape was apropos and the customers seem to feel the heaviness.  Although the space was quite crowded with shoppers, the silence was morgue-like and even my bounciness went nearly unnoticed as book-lovers circled and picked at the carcass.

People spoke in hushed whispers and the silence was not even punctuated with the usual soothing Bach or Bacharach in the background.  After we collected a number of interesting and notable titles for purchase we moved through the checkout queue with the other mute shoppers.  It was the last pass —- paying our respects at the gravesite.

I’ve never been a fan of the big chain retailers, but the death of Border’s hurts me as there are already too few physical bookstores left.  I can only hope that the end of Border’s means a rebirth for independent bookstores.


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.


How I Lost My Grandpa

Ok, we watched “How I Met Your Mother” last night and we were all in tears.  This episode really resonated with us, especially mama.  This is a telly show that we had never seen until mama, Bella and I moved in with my grandparents (mama’s parents) for a short period in 2008.  You see, as we were fleeing our negative and abusive situation (mama’s marriage) in early 2008, my grandpa (mama’s dad, Del) was going through chemo treatment for his unusual form of bone cancer; multiple myeloma.

Me & Grandpa D

Grandma & grandpa have a beautiful and large spread bordering the state park at Folsom Lake.  We wanted to spend as much time with grandpa as possible, while he went thru his treatment, so we put our things into storage and moved in with them.  We essentially had our own “wing” of the house and we were where we were needed and wanted to be.  A serendipitous time for all of us.  It was during these poignant months that we were introduced to “How I Met Your Mother”, a favorite program of mama’s parents.  I was administering my puppy therapy by cuddling with grandpa during his tv time.

We moved into their house in February 2008 and on May 31 of that year, my mama lost her father.  A mere four months, and he was gone.  Last night’s episode of “How I Met Your Mother” focused on the death of Marshall’s father and the last words that they exchanged.  This brought about a flood of memories and tears for us.

When we arrived in early 2008, grandpa Del was still working.  Well, he had “retired” from his day job a few years previous (Superintendent of Lodi Unified School District – 25,000+ students), but he was still putting in long hours as a Professor at Sacramento State (graduate department), grad student advisor, and consultant for the California School Board Association.

Sure, the nasty drugs slowed his usual hyper-energy, but he was still grandpa Del, a man known and honored in California as a great educator, but ultimately he was a fantastic dad and husband.  My mama has great admiration for her dad, as do I, and she’s always said that she loved the dichotomy of her father’s personality:  he was the most brilliant man she had ever met and the goofiest.  This is a splendid, and not often seen, combination of qualities.

Grandpa & mama

Grandpa spearheaded forward-thought in experiential methods of teaching math and science, publishing over 20 books on the subject (“Laboratory Laughter” is a classic!).  In the ‘60s, when mama was just a babe, he earned the honor of “California Teacher of the Year”, presented with a plaque by then governor Ronald Reagan.  Even though my grandpa was a staunch liberal and progressive thinker who abhorred Reagan, in his office he proudly displayed the photo of the Govenor shaking his hand during that ceremony.

Mama reports that when she was a child her dad would quiz her and her brothers at the dinner table.  It was sort of like Jeopardy, with pasta, and the categories were random.  One night would be world capitals and the next night would be the ERA’s of every Giant’s pitcher on the current roster or the best one-liners from “Blazing Saddles”.  Seriously.  And this is what made this man exceptional.  Intelligence and humor is an intoxicating combination.

Tears flowed as we watched this “comedy” on the telly last night and we wondered about grandpa’s last words to us.  Truthfully, the last words are in a fog that mama doesn’t need to clearly see through, so we will remember better moments.

I’m sad and reminiscent, but this is not a dark essay.  On the contrary, I smile widely and wag wildly as I remember my grandpa.  Mama has only bright memories but grandpa Del’s presence and light is greatly missed.

Remembering a lost loved one is bittersweet for certain, but the sweet greatly outweighs any sadness.  In honor of my beloved grandpa I think I must watch “Animal House” or “Caddy Shack” and then dive into an intellectual missive about science education.  My grandpa’s memory and inspiration towards learning and laughs will never die.