Stop. Find Joy.
In November, we lost my Uncle Philip. I feel sorry for all those that didn't know him. I mourn most of all for earth to have lost him.
My uncle was a warrior. He spent the last 6 months in the hospital. I don't want to talk about that in this post. I want to talk about life. His life, the way he lived so fully and beautifully.
My uncle was full of life and joy. Anyone who knew him knew he took people under his wings and put them on pedestals, or better known as stages. He had a way of making you feel special no matter who you were. He was someone you just wanted to be around. He was a professional clown, I'm not joking he literally went to clown school and taught people how to be a clown.
If you want to hear his voice and him discuss his art you can listen to these two podcasts. HERE and HERE I love hearing his voice or seeing old VHS videos of him. It's not the same but it's something.
Anyways, back to joy. When he was fighting he started this mantra really for anyone around him who was suffering and for him to remind himself of all the things that brought him joy. In the hospital, my Aunt Maureen put up papers with colored markers so anyone who came by could write what brought them joy. The sand beneath my toes as the ocean water creeps up, my wife in the backyard playing with my daughter, a warm cup of tea, listening to Beethoven, when Philip says "hello, Lisa". It was a great opportunity to remind ourselves how precious life is and how remarkable it is to be alive.
His mantra was to STOP. FIND JOY. The periods really make it obvious his intentions with this mantra. Stop worrying, stop living outside of this moment and find the joy in it.
Philip said the Coho theatre in Portland, Oregon was his legacy. As my mother pointed out that is not his legacy but the people who's lives he touched is his legacy and it will live on forever long past all of our own lives. He loved being the artistic director there, he loved teaching and directing and acting. He helped so many young artists blossom into the people they are today. He wanted to keep theatre community in Portland thriving. He wanted Coho to buy the building to continue the work of building the community in Portland. Theatre brings business. Theatre brings community. If we tear down the theatre and build a condo we do not create community. He was working on this in and out of the hospital. He had an in depth plan for how they were going to buy the building. As a family we took this on and created a non-profit in his name and our names. Our mission is to buy the building where Coho resides in Portland so that theatre can continue in this place.
When I visited him in April he took me to Coho. I'm so grateful we went. He had so much pride in the theatre, pride in the work he did. I think that was the last time he was there. That little theatre was something he was proud of and was something that represented the joy he brought to others.
The Philip Cuomo Family Foundation is raising funds to keep the building and to keep theatre thriving in Portland, Oregon. How lucky the Portland theatre community is to have someone like Philip advocating for magic.
If you would like to donate directly here is the link for our foundation. I hope joy finds you in some way in every moment even if it doesn't feel joyous at the time.