|Writing Della's obituary was really hard. How can one possibly encapsulate a woman like Della, much less with all the constraints (word count, readability, intended audience, history vs. heart, etc.) all the while in a state of such disorienting grief. I'm not displeased with the result, with much help from Deanna as well as a few choice phrases from others, but it hardly scratches the surface. With that in mind, I offer this addendum, some of the things I wanted to include but couldn't, about the woman I love.
Obituaries feel like a kind of message to the future about someone. I want the future to know how wonderful Della was. And while this silly blog post won't do that, maybe when someone goes looking for the obituary for Della Plaster in the future, they will also come across this post and get a little clearer picture than the newspaper's 353 words could give. And I hope they read this post and smile.
- Della worked at a La Conner retirement center, helping residents get to their appointments and planning fun activities to keep them engaged and happy. Throughout her adult life, this extra care for the elderly continued, organizing special opportunities for seniors to come to circus shows, performing at retirement centers, and more.
- Soccer and Soo Bahk Do were a big big deal in her life. She often talked about how she felt her life went in 7 year cycles; 7 years when soccer was her life—breathing, sleeping, and eating soccer; then it was 7 years of Soo Bahk Do, again throwing herself wholly into it, achieving considerable success*. After 7 years of performing, she was seriously questioning whether to continue or if it was time to move on. She eventually found renewed passion and dedication through working with some amazing women and the ability to make a living, esp. from our Wren and Della gigs.
- Della loved animals so much. In our house/petsitting tag team, she was the heart, loving on pets like they were her own. When travelling, she'd pour her heart into various street dogs and cats, cleaning, feeding, and petting them. I won't be able to see another tiny dog in my life without hearing her squees of glee echo in my ears. And it wasn't just pets: on all our travels, Della would also find so much joy in seeing animals of all sorts.
- Before there was circus, there was dance. And although she performed with the Dirty Birds as well as belly dancing, she loved the act of dancing itself, for its freedom and for the communities it helped her form.
- Della was a really good juggler, even by juggler standards (as opposed to performance juggling standards*). We passed 8 clubs, could run 7-club three count, and she would catch all the slop I would throw. Solo, she was getting 5 ball juggling down, a feat that takes determination and lots of practice. She made our juggling acts fun and successful through her personality and stage glow, but her juggling skill was truly noteworthy.
- Many people know Della first as a performer, from her iconic chair dance and pig dance. From these thought-provoking, pants-peeingly funny Della creations to improv warm-up exercises and everything in between, she was a true performer. She made people smile, laugh, and think. She connected to audiences in a special way that left them feeling good and valued.
- Della loved drawing as a kid and over the last couple years, she was enjoying so much rediscovering it. She made calendars, birthday cards, and most recently, My Animal ABC's: A Coloring Book!, a project that allowed her to connect with old friends and young friends alike. Let me know if you want a copy.
- One word that maybe most embodied Della was "kind". But "kind" isn't strong enough a word for the good, caring, generous, friendly, considerate, positive person she was. And not only did she embody it in her actions, that feeling of kindness permeated her life. We didn't watch TV shows where people were mean to each other; she hated seeing such an influential platform set bad examples. She loved Mr. Rogers and his message of positivity. And you didn't want to get her started on Donald Trump or other politicians who were unapologetically unkind people. We talked a lot about what being kind meant and how to best practice it, finding that sometimes fine line between compassion and enabling. It influenced her performance style, showing respect to the audience. It was a part of everything she did.
- Another competing word for most-embodying of Della was "fun". The girl knew how to have fun and to make fun. From planning ridiculousness to momentary punny word play to costumes, costumes, costumes, fun was at Della's core.
- Did you know that Della sewed all of our juggling costumes? Fancy, professional looking costumes that always got compliments. And her pig suit? And tons of masks for people during this pandemic? And made super awesome juggle bags? And patched my shorts...a lot? Della was handy at a sewing machine and had an eye for creation.
- In the obituary, we used the metaphor of light to describe Della and I can't get over how right that feel. Her happiness, caring, warmth, and radiance. It just doesn't feel like it can be overstated. My previous post talks about how she was the light in my life, and I know she was that to so many people.
- Della was serious about her style of performance. She invested tons of time and money into taking clown* and physical theater classes, from Maine to Vancouver to Los Angeles and more with well-known names in the industry.
- The accident that took Della's life was caused when the oncoming driver slid into our lane, striking our vehicle head on. The tires on his pickup were completely bald and alcohol was suspected to have been involved. [Update: the test results came back and confirmed the oncoming driver was drunk. Della was killed by a drunk driver.] Even though we were doing everything right (seatbelts, airbags, not speeding, staying in our lane), another driver's bad choices caused this tragedy. Please drive safely, for your lives and the lives of others.
- Did you know Della kept a blog? It was mostly for documentary purposes, but there are some great pictures and stories. And did you know Della was a budding actress? Here's her resume. Other places to get more Della is on her instagram, our instagram, her youtube channel, her website, and our website.