Well, folks, it turns out it’s a lot harder than I expected to write a memorial to our late larger-than-life friend, Southern Dragon, also known IRL as Richard. I’ve been trying for awhile, and nothing seems quite right. I hope you will all help with your contributions.
To start at the beginning, I don’t actually remember when I first “met” Southern Dragon. It was here at FDL, of course, but long, long ago. He must have been an early lake denizen, as was I, though I was not here at the very very beginning, but had been here awhile by the time of the Libby trial.
Do you all remember when he started Caturday? He figured so many of us were taking over other threads telling stories about all our kittehs, that there was enough interest to keep a “cat post” going, without boring all the non-cat posts. Boy, was he right about that! They were popular as long as he was able to do it. I’ve been reviewing some of those Caturdays, with the variety of cute and interesting pictures he always included. Funny pictures, pictures of his own house tigers, videos from Big Cat Rescue (one of his favorite organizations), and sometimes pix we readers sent him.Plus a wide-open discussion of any stories we wanted to tell about kittehs, big and small. I loved his regular epigraph for Caturday; “Saving One animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that animal.” A motto to live by, when we think that nothing we can do will matter much.
Personally, I’ll never forget the kind emails he exchanged with me when my beloved Charlie died, and that he turned over Caturday to me the following Sunday, posting a picture of Charlie at the top, and letting me talk all about him. It helped me deal with losing my favorite fur boy so much. Many of us experienced something similar at Caturday. And the fact that he, the big ex-Navy man-old hippie, with strong principles and such a macho look, talked about the Rainbow Bridge where we would meet our lost kittehs eventually, just as if it were as real as, say, Niagara Falls, helped me to believe in it, too. It’s my only religious belief today; my kittehs are waiting for me there, and Richard himself is there, playing with and loving on all his long line of passed-on kittehs, who must have been so happy when he showed up there a year ago today.
I won’t forget the shock when he left us so quickly. That was a tough time, shocking and hard to accept. Southern Dragon was a teacher here, leading so many of us not just with words of wisdom at Caturday and the Lakeside Diner, but with the organized lessons of Marx in the Morning. He was never needlessly rude with people who honestly failed to understand something, but neither did he suffer fools gladly. I loved that about him.
Politically, he reminded us that “[t]here are no overnight or one or two election cycle solutions to our problems.” Marx in the Morning, a regular study of lectures by Professor Richard Wolffe, was one of his ways of teaching those who wanted to learn how to analyze those problems, and hopefully, discover some of those long-term solutions. He walked the walk, too: he showed up regularly at demonstrations in the St. Pete area; his avatar was a cropped photo of himself holding a poster (I couldn’t find the full photo)at one of those demonstrations.
Om Ali should be around sometime today with some interesting observations. She was a rock in the aftermath of Richard’s passing, organizing the rescue and re-homing, plus collecting funds to cover the costs, of Richard’s beloved cats, all of them rescued already by him. I think we all felt that taking care of his cats was the least we could do for him. And “namaste” to yellowsnapdragon, who traveled cross-country to adopt her favorite kitteh, Nagi, who lives with her still.
Such a man of contrasts: he always bade us farewell with a “Namaste,” coupled with “Never.Give.Up.” We try to carry on his passion for fairness, justice, policies and politics that favor the regular guy, the member of the 99%, and his memory gives us courage.
Please, everyone, share your own favorite stories about the big guy who left such a lasting mark on all of us who met him through Firedoglake.
As usual, I’ll be in and out.