Ron's Introduction

I'd like to thank you all for coming and also to take a moment to thank the TreePeople for making this beautiful amphitheatre available to us today. This space had a special meaning to Joan and me as we made the hike up here dozens of times after returning to Los Angeles and were pleased to see the new headquarters of the TreePeople, who do such good work planting trees and teaching schoolchildren and adults the importance of conservation and ecology, as it was being constructed.

I'm delighted, but not surprised to see so many of you here today. Your cards and letters, e-mails and phone calls, during Joan's illness and after her death were so comforting to Rebecca, Julie and me, but beyond that they were startling to us in the depth and intensity of memory and emotion they contained. Joan's pottery, and her personality, seem to have played such an important role in the lives of so many of you and we were overwhelmed to be reminded of that and to hear your many stories of your time together, the place her pottery has in your homes and what she meant to you.

Perhaps you know the story of the funeral of Harry Cohn, the long-time boss of Columbia pictures, who was widely considered one of the most disliked men in Hollywood. They called him White Fang. When he died, Groucho Marx said he was going to the funeral so he could stick a cigar into the corpse to make sure he was really dead. But Groucho wasn't the only one at the funeral that day. The temple was filled with mourners, including some of the most famous names in Hollywood, and many people thought it odd that this man who had been so reviled should have drawn such a huge crowd. But a couple of days later, Red Skelton explained it on his radio show when he said, "It just goes to prove what they always say: You give the people what they want, they'll come out for it."

Of course, we're not here today because we wanted or expected to be here but, for many of us, to come to terms with the fact, to face each other and admit, that Joan is really gone. It just happened so damn fast. One day, she was happy and healthy and eagerly looking forward to a new grandson and a new son-in-law and barely three months later--little more than the time between Passover and the Fourth of July--two strangers came to the house in the middle of the night to carry her downstairs and out the door. There were many of you who wanted to see her to say good-bye--some of you had even bought plane tickets.but it just wasn.t possible. But even those of us who were with her every day just weren't prepared for the end to come so quickly and we, too, have the sense of things left unsaid and undone. Perhaps we can, in some small way, correct that here today.

So let me just begin by saying we are here today to celebrate the life of a potter, a hiker, a climber, a folk dancer, a theater lover, a music lover, a comparison shopper--looking for on-street parking was blood sport for Joan--a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a cousin of dozens, a friend and the love of my life for 40 years.

No memorial to Joan would be complete without the music of Mozart, who was her favorite composer, and so pleased to have two wonderful musicians, one from each side of our family, to perform it today. Here are Laurie Geltman, the niece of Joan's sister Lynn, who is an award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist, and Shira Adler, the daughter of my dear cousin Shelly, who has performed opera, Broadway, cabaret, jazz and is a cantor and inter-faith minister.

The last opera Joan and I watched, not long before she died, was The Magic Flute, which we rented from Netflix, who sent us an edgy production by the Zurich Opera Company. It pushed the envelope so far, in fact, that when the Queen of the Night made her first appearance she was topless. Shira won.t be singing that today, but here she is with Laurie accompanying her on Oiseaux Si Tou Les Ans.