Contact Kelli,
temporary manager
of Doug's
"The Wondering Jew"

Aug. 19, 2008 - 12:00

Sipping a chocolate malt at lunch, Punkin asks "Is it Heaven, Mom?" I nod "Yes." Punkin says "Well, it's like Pre-Heaven." (Her actual phrase was "Pre-H", like "Pre-K" the class before kindergarten.) "Yeah, Mom. Pre-Heaven." She got quiet, then " where Doug is."

On Saturday, it was thought that Doug would be letting go soon. Every morning since, Hospice has called the family to say "You should come now..." and every day Doug rallies and continues on.

Except today.

Doug's lovely bride Shirley is very grateful for the love and support of Doug's internet friends for both herself and Doug. These are some long days at the hospital for Shirley, and Jeannie says she is hanging in there and starting to focus less on what they'll miss, and more on what they have. Maybe that is what Doug was waiting for.

I stare at the blank screen and wonder what to say about a friend I've only known on the internet for eight years. I'll never be able to give Doug the tribute he deserves, but I can try.

Doug is a philospher, a gentleman, a thinker, a dreamer, a wordsmith, a poet.

Raised an only child, he had 'adopted' many cyber-relatives over the years--sisters, Moms, brothers. I referred to him as Denver Doug, then Brudder Doug. He even 'adopted' my children as cyber-nieces and nephews. He thought of them as his own, delighting in the clown pictures and stories he heard. He told me often that he loved me, my husband, and my kids. The feeling was mutual. His love for his family, his wife, and his cyber-family was very real. He did nothing to hide it. It shows in every word he types. Doug is genuine.

Doug is a kind and generous soul, a gentle soul. Full of memories of places, times, emotions -- he is more than capable of pouring all of that out in words that could captivate, inspire, confirm, validate. One only needs to look back through the Wondering Jew or Riddiger archives to see that.

It was around the holidays last year when some trouble with his shoulder sent him to the doctor with what was eventually diagnosed as cancer. He dutifully went through with the radiation and was doing well for a bit. My family and I were very lucky to be able to visit with him while we were in Colorado last July. We even "kidnapped" him and took him out to dinner. Meeting Doug and Shirley and their daughter was one of the high points of our trip. He was disappointed that the "Doug meets Kelli" story would never be told on his journal -- that is the only indication he would give me that he was not doing well. Whenever I talk with him, he is upbeat, laughing. I can hear the smile in his voice. Last week, he told me he would be getting well because he had plans to get to Prospect Park many times to see the Aspens and the beauty of the area. I could hear the conviction in his words. I'm not sure if he never accepted the diagnosis, or if he was being upbeat in spite of it. Whatever it was, he beat the doctor's expectations.

In looking back through The Wondering Jew archives, I found this entry from January 20, 2000:

Another day, wasn't home to see the late news so maybe it's better, eh ? Had a pleasant visit with some friends, went down memory lane amongst us and remarkable we seemed to agree on what was where and when this was built and where the streets ended in cow pastures, etc. etc.

But after so long a time you begin to realize that as the years stretch out, eventually your years will snap and you're not here anymore. So you half conceal a yawn and say, "Gee, I had a big day today and lots to do tomorrow, guess we better head home for bed."

But as I walk on, my own secret thoughts search out and bring back the memories of the pleasant times you lived and the loved ones you looked up to and realize, heyyyyyy, it wasn't such a bad go, was it?

I sense that my dreams will be pleasant again to night.

And so good night to all.

Doug's fabulous spirit is alive and well and completely free. He's looking around at the beauty of the streams, rivers and golden Aspens. He is surrounded by loved ones, knowing he will always be held in our hearts and memories. His words are his legacy.

Good night, dear friend. Pleasant dreams.

I love you.

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