A tribute to my wife
Carol Ann Houston Palmer
January 8, 1946 - August 31, 2011
I met Carol almost exactly 44 years ago, in September of 1967. We lived in the same group of apartments, and saw each other quite frequently. I'm not exactly sure how we arranged to get together, but by the time Thanksgiving had rolled around, we were engaged, and on January 2, 1968, we were married.
We never had any human children, for various personal reasons. But we always had a soft spot in our hearts for the furry kind of children that we have made part of our family. It really hurt her feelings that she couldn't have access to our schnauzers, Holmes and Watson, while she was in the hospital.
Carol was a phenomenon. I don't think she ever really realized how important she was to me, but she was the best support I ever had for any of my wacky "professions" and hobbies. When we met, I had been a musician on the Houston scene for several years. In 1972, I decided I wanted to quit that and become a magician -- I had been a magician when I was in High School. She asked me one question -- "Can you earn a living at it?"
I told her that I would rather try it and fail than wake up 80 years old and realized that I had never tried something I wanted to do. She supported me completely in that venture.
She had some amazing talents, not the least of which was dancing. She didn't look like a dancer, but she basically taught herself the art of Renaissance dance, when she played the part of Anne Boleyn to Elroy Forbes' Henry VIII at the Texas Renaissance Festival. She was good at it -- VERY good at it.
During that time, she became interested in Scottish Country Dancing. She enrolled in classes with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society -- Houston and District Branch, and became so fond of this dance form that she invested a great deal of personal time and resources to becoming a certificated Royal Scottish Country Dance Instructor. She recently received her 25 year certificate.
We made it a point to travel as much as we could. We saw America, England, Scotland, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic together. We attended magic conventions together in most of these countries, and she became a familiar sight at these events.
When I retired from performing, I took up collecting cups and balls. For those of you who are not magicians, the cups and balls is the oldest magic trick in the world. To a magician, they are fascinating. I amassed a huge collection of these things. She helped me immensely. In fact, she made several suggestions that improved the collection. She even bought a huge collection of them for me last Christmas.
In everything I did after I met her, she became my right arm, my soul, my other half. It will be very difficult for me to live without her. But I will do it with the help of God and my friends.
Carol loved music, dance, the theatre, dogs and people -- not necessarily in that order. She has friends all over the world who are grieving her passing at this moment. She never, ever hurt anyone. She was kind to everyone she ever met. Most of her friends have remarked that Carol was a real lady.
Her last words to me were "I love you." Those were my last words to her, too.
My dear friends, Walter "Zaney" Blaney and Ed Solomon, each sent me a poem by Henry Scott Holland that sums up our feelings about this event.
All Is Well
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just round the corner.
All is well.
The brilliant flame of her life was snuffed out prematurely by lung cancer. If you are one of Carol's friends and you smoke, please stop. And if you don't smoke, don't start.
You can e-mail me at email@example.com