July 20, 2012

All the world’s a stage…

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 7:05 pm by openendedcomment

Mickey welcomed me into her family when I was six.  It became official when I was nine, the day my Mother married my Step-Father.  She passed away six days ago.

My childhood is filled with her.

Thanksgivings spent helping her in the kitchen and being sent to wake Dale, my Grandfather,  in the TV room where he could always be found on such occasions when it was time to eat.  Listening to her laugh with my aunts and uncles, to someone breaking out in song as the wine poured and the night wore on while I tried to beat Dale in RISK…a feat I never accomplished.

Easter meant The Flynns, a family we were so close to it seemed they were family, too.  They had six children and as an only child for the first ten years of my life I was in awe.  Egg hunts in the rain, Captain of the Hill, lawn darts and deviled eggs.  Me begging my Mother to have just one more child…because The Flynns always did, or at least it always seemed that way…Mickey was on my side in this, too.  The more the merrier.  Those words spilled from her lips not as a “saying” but as her mantra.

The Farm.  Ticks and weeds and fires and wine.  Pontoons breaking down and Mickey looking at Dale as though he had turned plaid or gone mad or both when he attempted to “fix” something. I recall an electrocution and a burning of weeds gone wrong…

Chanhassen, the Guthrie, Nutcracker, Shakespeare, Tennesse Williams, Swan Lake and Phantom.  She brought me to all of them.  She adored the theatre and Dale was an actor, well-known in the theatre circles of this very artsy city.  When he passed his obituary ran a full half page in our Minneapolis Newspaper.  She couldn’t sing like he did, but she sang more.  The music will never play without her there.  Here. With me.

Here, at the church they loved where I performed in the Christmas pageants that Mickey practically ran.  Here where I set out doughnuts on Sundays when she made me come early with her.  Here where my sister sang, standing next to her Grandfather, all of four years old.  Here where my Mother and I performed The Messiah, a time that meant so much.  Here where I became a family when my Mother and Father wed.  Here where until now I hadn’t understood, though I had known how profoundly and permanently she touched and shaped my life.

So much of what I’ve done and so many of the times I hold most dear are with or because of her.

Five years ago, Mickey and I had a conversation about marriage.  She told me that even though she and Dale had good times and bad times it was the good times that mattered.  She said that throughout my life I should always remember that my husband is a good man.  That when he acts like an ass, and she assured me that would happen, that I should take a step back and consider what it would be like without him.  And as long as that always seemed worse, we would always be OK.  She delivered this in her typical matter of fact voice, ringing with conviction and intonation.  Then she grew quiet.  An aside.  “You know, Heidi,” she said “It doesn’t matter how old you get.  You always need your prince charming.  You always need to love and be loved.  I miss mine terribly.”  She cried.  I don’t think I’d ever seen her cry.

She left his voice on her answering machine.  For years.  She held him closer and she waited.  A wait that has come to an end.

I’d like to think that this weekend as I see those I haven’t spent time with for many years, as we gather to remember, that she and Dale are having their own reunion.  That somewhere there is music and he is singing to her as they dance.  That they know that the cast of characters they have left on this stage as a result of their impact on our lives will go on with the show until the curtain draws and we are with them again.

Until then, Dear Lady, I can speak only for myself when I say that I will take your direction…born of decades walking the boards of life, love, marriage, children, womanhood, friendship and joy and I will hold them close to my heart, where you began placing them some thirty years ago.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. -William Shakespeare
Rest in Peace. 
Ann Renee “Mickey” Dunham
July 14, 2012


  1. So so sorry for your loss. She now gets to look down on what a remarkable woman you have become and know that she had a part in that.

  2. Jamie Koblas said,

    Lovely…thats all I can say, you have such a way with words and I know you grandmother is missed.

  3. Thank you both. She was and is a wonderful woman.

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