My Conkeydoodle

My father Arthur and Conkeydoodle’s father Jack were first cousins,  so I guess that makes me and Conkey second cousins – or maybe first cousins once removed,  we never could quite figure that out.   But Conkey was 11 years my senior and had been my babysitter at times,  and so actually she felt more like a big sister to me.

Of course her name wasn’t really Conkeydoodle but Esther and we’d laugh over the fact that neither of us could remember how I gave her that nickname in the first place.  But it stuck and over the years she remained “my  Conkeydoodle”,  and she always signed cards and letters,  and then emails to me as “Conkey.”

But when she started college,  then went to grad school in Massachusetts,  and then married Ed and settled in California,  we saw each other seldom.  But when their daughter Anya came east to Columbia’s journalism school,  and was living in Brooklyn for a few years,  Conkey and Ed visited New York often and we saw them whenever we could.  And over the years we visited them in their beautiful house in Berkeley and celebrated with them there at Anya’s wedding.

Conkey was a therapist,  and I’m sure an excellent one – she was gentle,  wise,  and empathetic.

Then one day Conkey called with the awful news she’d been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.  I flew out to see her and spent an afternoon at her bedside,  her devoted dog Ziggy lying on the quilt at her feet.  Soon after I got back to New York we got the tragic news that my cousin had died leaving those of us who loved her bereft.

And now my beloved Conkeydoodle,  your memory will ever be a blessing.

Dana Susan Lehrman


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