My friend and fellow musician, Mark Rubin posted a Facebook status update this past week which has hit very close to home. It read: “Confused? Upset? Maybe start talking to old people more often. You'd be surprised what you'll learn and how much better you'll feel generally.” There was definitely one “old” person whom I relished seeking counsel from and that was Allelu Kurten. I say “old” with quotation marks because if you knew or even met Allelu, you knew that despite her biological age, the word “old” did not apply to her. She was exuberance incarnate, even until the last.
Whenever I faced a big decision or transition in my life, she was always there with her light and wisdom and gave me perspective and a listening ear. She was there when I had to make big decisions regarding some work with the Muppets. She saw me through a number of heartbreaks. And she sat next to me at Jane Henson's memorial service. But she was also there to delight in all the good things in life, too: playing music, making albums, creative projects and, of course, puppet shows! She taught me the value of having a “chosen” family: the family that you may not necessarily be born into, but those you choose to surround yourself with.
I had a lovely last visit with her when I was in Brookline, MA last month. She revealed to me that her time was short and so I took advantage of having as much time with her as I could. She came to see “Billy Goats Gruff and Other Stuff” at the Puppet Showplace and I offered to give her a ride back up to her apartment in Concord. She showed me around her place, her lovely flower boxes on her deck, but it was soon time for me to go. We looked at each other and I said “I don't want to do this. I had to say goodbye to Jane and now I have to say goodbye to you.” We hugged each other and I made my way out. She waved to me from her balcony as I walked to my car, a gesture she made to anyone who came to visit her.
I will miss her human presence here, but know that her light is shinning all around us now, anytime we need. She left behind a legacy of love, hope, encouragement and enthusiasm. All of which are our inheritance. Truly, we are wealthier in those respects for knowing her.