A Tribute to a Precious Friend

A Tribute for My Sherri, My Friend

On a bright day in ‘74, a resplendent friend walked through the gym door.
The first thing I saw was her infectious smile, I knew quickly we’d be friends for a while.
Forty-five years to be exact; I’ve never had another friend like that.

Our teen years were a rocky lot, most shenanigans are best forgot.
But oh, the joys of our high school loves, reaching out to all because
We were children inquiring, reaching, seeking, to try everything and keep on breathing.

Post graduation brought its own new time
More shenanigans would suit us fine.
Sitting by the fire at Steak and Ale
As we made our plans to leave and sail
Around the world like buccaneers
Way back then we weren’t ruled by fears.

Twenties were another thing, finding husbands and wedding rings
Settling down wasn’t easy though,
We had to cool down and take it slow
But changes came anyway, as we embraced new days
From here on out we had grown up ways.

Middle years we drifted some, but that never stopped us from being one
Of a set of best friends I’ll ever enjoy, as we waited for our careers to deploy.

I had a few kids but Sherri did not
Rather she would have thousands that she never forgot
Oh, how fortunate were those in her care
Sherri cherished her kids like a Mamma Bear.

In 2012 I joined her in teaching, watching her magic
As she just kept reaching
Out to those students who needed her most
She transformed lives, sometimes even to host.

In the last few years we’d meet up for a bite
Catching up with our families and laughing despite
Getting older and slower as we waded into
Ages and stages we expected to get through.

Our friendship was such that no matter how long
Time between us transpired we’d reconnect like a song
Whose melody was in our DNA
We’d just sit down and then hit “play.”

We even had a pipedream that if we ended up
Alone and homeless we just might set up
A Golden Girls home where we’d live out our days
With friends and cats and set in our ways.

I will never forget you, my Sherri, my friend
One day I’ll stop weeping and just pretend
That you’ve gone up to school to pick up a stack
Of Teacher Editions, and you’ll be right back.

Dorothy Hagan
September 22, 2019

Tammy Labude: I Think I’ll BE


Facebook isn’t always politics and kitty cats. And it wasn’t for me today. It was the mournful media that informed me of a personal loss so heartfelt it is difficult to describe.

How do you describe having known an honest-t0-goodness living, breathing, celestial yet terrestrial…angel…and now she is gone? How do you describe someone who was never supposed to be here on this earth, yet was…how do you describe someone who dropped into your life at the exact moment of necessity, who brightened your days of sorrow and darkness, and touched not just you, but virtually everyone fortunate enough to be found in her presence?

With only two words: Tammy Labude

I met Tammy in 2002 when she was directing a production of Heidi in Garland, Texas. My eight-year-old daughter Abigail was up for the part. She got called back, did a good job and to our utter joy was cast as the lead. Seeing my daughter ecstatic with the joy of a dream come true was the first gift Tammy gave to me.

But soon this joy began to flow to me. I was living in a city away from home, and was profoundly homesick. While waiting for something or someone before rehearsals began, I was blessed to visit with Tammy for more than an hour, just the two of us. An instant friendship was born. We talked, we shared, we laughed, and I went home lighter than I had been for more than a year.

And her blessings to me and my family just multiplied. She always seemed to be there and available the exact moments and days I needed her. Always. Eventually, I moved back home, and so did she. We stayed in touch with occasional phone calls and messages. Every time we talked it was like we had just spoken yesterday.

And now I realize that my daughter and I were but two tiny woven threads on the loving, giving, living tapestry that made up Tammy’s life. Because the gifts she gave to us she gave to everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. And I believe wholeheartedly that her paths, her every steps were God directed.

How else but Angel might she be called? She was born with frailties that would have taken most away. She bore human challenges most of us have never seen. She was never interested in the grand earthly things. People were her business. Small ones. Tall ones. Old ones. Young ones. All ones. She gave and she gave and she forgave and I will never know why I was so blessed as to have been among those who had the privilege to know her.

I noticed some time back someone on Facebook quoted to her “To be, or not to be?” and Tammy answered, “I think I’ll BE.” And boy, did she.

That I could BE a fraction of her goodness…

God speed, Tammy, and God willing, until we meet again.



Speak Those Goals

It was the end of a brutal year. I found myself facing a divorce, single-parenthood, a draining job and pretty much the loss of everything I thought life had set out before me. But for the wise advice from a life-altering therapist, there’s no way to predict how things might have turned out.

But alas, that life-altering therapist was there. I sat before her awash in tears, despondent, hopeless. She gently suggested I set out some new goals for myself. I must have looked at her as though she had sprouted confetti from her forehead. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Let’s think about some new goals for you.
Me: Goals? You’ve got to be kidding.
Her: No, I mean it. Not resolutions. Those are never effective. I am talking about goals. Short and long term. Some you will hit, some you won’t hit this year, some you may never hit. But that’s okay. Because they are goals. They are desires that you have and are giving a voice to. So what are some short term goals?
Me: God. Breathing? Not driving my car off an overpass? Not setting my ex and his girlfriend on fire?
Her: Beyond the obvious. What are some things in say, the next six months, that you would like to accomplish?
Me: Well, I need to move out. I need to deal with legal crap. I need to find another place to live. My son and I have to move back in with my mother. In Pasadena. Jesus, save me.
Her: Okay. So what about after that? Longer term. What about a year from now? What about five years from now?

So at this point I had no earthly idea. Or so I thought. Again, with her gentle prodding, I began to move forward in my vision.

Me: Well, someday I would like to own another house. A place of my own. A place of peace and safety…Ah, hell. A house with a neighborhood swimming pool! (Okay, NOW the energetic visions were popping!)
Her: What about relationships?
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Relationships. What about another marriage someday? More children?

I was stunned. In my abyss of grief and loss, the notion of having another life, actually living the life of mother with kids with husband with happiness…could those things possibly even be imaginable?

Her: I want you to go home and write down everything you want to accomplish. Big and little. Great and small. Call it your Goals List. Do you want to travel? Add destinations. Different relationships? Add names. Believe me when I say You have the Power to Speak Things into Being.
Me: Okay.
Her: Times’ up. Leave a check with the receptionist. I’ll see you in a week.

So…that’s now been well over two decades ago. And you know what? I DID accomplish nearly everything I set out on those early goals lists. I DID move out. I DID get another house. I DID remarry. I DID have more children. I HAVE had the Life I dreamed of and thought was lost forever.

For the life of me I cannot remember that therapist’s name. I remember her face and the resolute determination she had to help me. And I thank God for her and for therapists and encouragers like her.

So fellow travelers…Speak your goals. Claim your future. Accept years with little change. (The Lose 30 Pounds goal has yet to be realized. But, hey, I’ll put it on this year’s list again!)

Here’s wishing you the best possible life for 2016 and beyond.

Since Oprah Hasn’t Called…

In the immortal words from Monty Python “And now for something completely different.” Tomorrow I will accept the keys to my new classroom as I begin the biggest professional challenge I’ve yet undertaken. I will be the Reading Intervention Teacher for a local high school. Being someone gifted with words (she says with all modesty) it will be my privilege to attempt to share these gifts with struggling readers. I believe I am up to the task. I care deeply about my students in advance. And I can’t wait to get started.

Publishing The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean was an effort that was seven years in the making. It has gotten great reviews and if you enjoyed it, please feel free to announce it to the world!

And Oprah. And my good buddy Cameron Crowe. And Sandra Bullock. Whom I believe would make an outstanding Karla Jean.

And so I shall sally forth toward a new place with new people and ingest another great big bite of Life.

Let’s begin this new journey!