I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to see you one last time to say goodbye to you in person. But that’s the way you wanted it. You chose to stay away from the usual places, and made it clear that you didn’t want us to see what the evil affliction was doing to your body.
The news about your death was whispered in the form of “did you hear about Gisela?” eight days after your passing, and all I could think was, why nobody had used the public community forum we all subscribe to, to honor the completion of your life with the dignity and respect we all deserve.
Unlike the time when we had to ask why you missed the Thanksgiving party and you told us about of your “drippy snout and spaghetti legs,” this time I feel remorse for not checking on you even when you didn’t want us to see you fight your battle.
I am haunted by a recent dream I had.
You were riding on a spirited, beautiful, white as the driven snow mare on the levee by Audubon park, waving and smiling as the fog rose from the muddy waters and suddenly engulfed you in its gray mist.
You never talked too much about your life but you sure had a very exciting one. Born in Germany in 1942 at Monheim am Rhein during a night-time air raid. Trained in Dusseldorf as a bookseller. Earned a Master’s Degree in German Literature from the University of London as well as a diploma from the London’s Psychosynthesis & Education Trust. Certified translator, worked at the Goethe Institutes in both Dublin and London. After long spells in both Dublin and London, you settled in New Orleans in 1989.
Your dry sense of humor was very special and your take on this city and its insular peculiarities were brilliant. In a landscape of mirlitons you were a ripe avocado.
But what really brightened your life and brought much fulfillment to your quest for personal growth was the tango you happened to find as you first went up the stairs to what became your home at the House of Tango. Trusting members of the opposite sex and indulging in the pleasures of being embraced just ran completely against your self reliant individualism and active feminism. At least that was the shield with which you fought our legendary battles in the classroom and on the dance floor. Battles that sometimes ended in tears before you began shining smiles like you never had done before.
Like here with King, Susan and Phyllis during one of the happy times we used to provide to the community at the House of Tango, in Uptown New Orleans, right above the Octavia bookstore.
Or here horsing around with Vangy
And of course here doing the menage a trois version of the tango
As we celebrate your life and mourn your departure, we pray for the eternal and peaceful rest of your soul, leaving this humble tribute to your tango life.
Next time somebody who knew you thinks about learning to tango, and tells me about your endorsement, “because he’ll teach you well. He’ll make you cry but you’ll learn,” I’ll smile and thank you for the challenges and satisfactions you brought into our lives.
We are going to honor your wish and make a donation in your name to the Animal Adoption Society in Poplarville, MS.
Gisela Kirberg Mamone passed away on March 10, 2009