Saturday, November 24, 2007

Goin' Home - A Tribute to Adele

Adele Chambart Tutter 1932 – 2007

When Adele Chambart and Antonin Tutter met in the 1950s each was suffering from homesickness. Adele’s childhood reality was lived in the homes of various relatives and focused primarily in her years of attending a boarding school run by the Amityville Dominican Sisters in Monticello, New York. Antonin, more than ten years her senior, was making the most of hard work and education offered in a new country but he was a political refugee and his heart in exile from his true home which was Czechoslovakia. In love, these two ‘homeless’ young people determined to create a new home, a home of their very own, a home away from true home.

Brooklyn, Staten Island, Kingston, Bloomville were the successive geographical settings for their home-making efforts. Here they raised outstandingly intelligent and super-achieving children, independent of mind and spirit, loving in ways that could only be learned from such parents. Adele’s achievements as a parent, a professional, a community activist and parish minister are well known. I would like to speak about the quality of “HOME” Adele created and shared with others. It has been said that “the best sort of family [is one] in which the members are so at home with one another [that] they create an atmosphere of nourishing hospitality.” Adele welcomed and brought home all sorts, including me and my children. For his part, Tony may not have cooked the meals or made the beds but he allowed and cooperated in the extension of Adele’s earth mother brand of generosity and caring.

Adele’s extension of ‘home’ to me included the development of a quality of friendship that can only be described as a rare treasure. Out of the’ welcomings’ to her home: through the back door to the kitchen and family room of the Pearl Street house; into the ancient, tiny, rickety Bloomville farm house that magically expanded to hold all whom she desired it to hold; to the spacious, light-filled retirement home on the hill – out of all these warm ‘welcomings’ grew a friendship of mutual care and knowing. Adele knew me to the soles my feet and to the depth of my heart. She heard it all and was willing to do so. And for her part, Adele shared her heart, her spiritual soul, her concerns for husband and children and the homelessness of her inner child.

On the Occasion of her 70th birthday I wrote:

Adele Tutter taught me:
· how to make tabouli, babahanoush, and spinach pockets
· how to pick blueberries
· how to welcome a friend at the back door any time and offer a kind word, a cup of tea, a meal or a healing hug.

Adele taught me:
· How to be confident in a ‘still wet behind the ears’ teenaged son who just happens to know more about some things than you do.

Adele taught me:
· how to be generous without even thinking about it as when I reported losing a special rosary and she promptly dipped her hand into her pocket and gave me the beads she found there, probably a treasured possession.
· how to give your children every freedom necessary for healthy development and independence even when you KNOW exactly what they SHOULD be doing.
· how to be your brother and sister’s keeper, to serve the less fortunate, to respect the poor, the disabled, the outcast – even to delivering groceries to a squalid second floor apartment because the need was great.

Adele taught me:
· how to relax with friends, to know that the company was the most important thing, not the dishes in the sink, the toys on the floor, or the clothes strewn about because there are fourteen people sleeping in a house intended for six.

Adele Tutter taught me:
· how to be a soul sister for a lifetime

HOME meant everything to Adele and, in her ‘heart as big as the all outdoors' way, she shared everything that HOME meant for her. My heart is breaking with gratitude for that gift.

In loss, as I just begin to touch the hole her departure leaves in my life, my only consolation is that her once homeless soul has finally gone HOME. She has arrived at the true HOME she yearned for each and every day of her deep and mystical life of faith. It is this knowledge of the desire of her heart to be embraced by her Loving God in the HOME to which so many of her loved ones had already gone that we must allow to carry us over the hard times. After all, this is the model of selflessness she gave us. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. In love therefore, we can make the effort to put aside our desires to have her forever. In imitation of her own selflessness and generosity we can rejoice that Adele has gone HOME.

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