Saturday Night Live was a staple in my adolesence, debuting October 11, 1975. Its rowdy, clever, twisted brand of humor kept me awake into the wee hours for many a Saturday night into Sunday. One of my favorite Not Ready For Prime Time Players was Gilda Radner. A comedic genius, she created infamous characters such as Emily Litella, whose “Never mind.” in response to being corrected when she would mishear things like “saving Soviet jewelry [really Jewry]“, “endangered feces [species]“, “violins [violence] on television”, “busting [busing] schoolchildren”, “presidential erections [elections]“, “flea [free] elections (and then “flea erections”) in China”, “pouring money into canker [cancer] research”, the “Eagle [Equal] Rights Amendment“, “conserving our natural racehorses [natural resources]“, “youth in Asia [euthanasia], “sax [sex] on television”, “firing [hiring] the handicapped”, and “making Puerto Rico a steak [state]“. (from Wikipedia)
Others included the wire haired outspoken Roseanne Rosanadana with her classic line “It just goes to show you, it’s always something.”, and the sidekick to Bill Murray’s Todd; the noogified Lisa Loopner whose stuffed up nose sounding voice exclaimed “That’s so funny, I forgot to laugh.”
Throughout her life, Gilda laughed her way through a daunting eating disorder and the most challenging adversary was yet to come, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986. She succumbed to the disease in 1989, with her husband Gene Wilder at her side. Prior to her death, she penned a book called It’s Always Something which was made into a tv movie in 2002.
One of her legacies is Gilda’s Club which is a non-residential support community for folks living with cancer, and their families and friends. It was founded by Michael Radner (Gilda’s brother) and Joanna Bull (her counselor) I have been blessed to have been on staff at the location in Warminster, PA, surrounded by generous compassionate co-workers and volunteers. I facilitated living with loss and caregiver support groups and loved every minute of it, even in the midst of sadness. I was inspired by those who passed through the doors.
Although the comedic quotes made me laugh, the one that touches me deeply comes from her book: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
Delicious ambguity…what would it mean to live in that state? For me it would mean, taking the leap of faith, the Nestea Plunge, leaning back into the metaphorical arms of Spirit, knowing for certain that I will always be safely held and caught. It brings with it unpredictabilty. How boring would it be if we could always know in advance what would transpire. Unanticipated delights await!