As Remembered by Janibeth Johnson
Remembering Father/Brother Richard Jonathan Cardarelli, on the first anniversary of his passing on June 22, 2012. I can't believe Richard is gone...his spirit must linger on. Richard really did "make a difference" in so many ways and affected so many people's lives. I first knew Richard through Dignity Hartford after I joined in the late 1980's. But I came to know him through several other avenues also.
I went to New York City with him on that fateful date when he stepped before the cameras in his priestly robes at the alternative St. Patrick's Day parade. There were six of us, out on a lark for once, rather than more serious protest work. We must have looked like tourists, searching our maps and seeking out the location of the alternative GLBT Irish parade. We found our goal and seconds later, everything changed. The reporters descended like locusts when they saw Richard's priestly robes. It was like being with a rock star, as they ignored the rest of us and plied him with questions left and right, all media including Irish television. It was that "simple" step that led eventually to his most painful excommunication. He had a simple naiveté even in the midst of his ardent protest work. He said to me once with seeming puzzlement: "Why is it that I always get in trouble for speaking out for love and peace and justice?" He was helpful to me many times, including once when I was going through a painful separation: "You have to be true to yourself. It isn't really worth it if you have to make yourself someone you are not, in order to please someone else."
I loved the man, and with his passing, more and more vivid memories of time spent with him come rising into my consciousness from the past. His support when my mother passed away was "priceless"! Amongst many other facets of our relationship, we supported each other in our struggles with OCD. One of the things I am proudest of in my life was being able to find help for Richard when the professionals were not really understanding the problem, treatments for OCD being still in their infancy. He eventually vanquished the OCD demon, amongst others. I am most proud of having been able to help him in that journey, as he helped me in return. My sympathies go out to all who knew him and especially his family and friends. Love to you always, Richard. I wish I could hug you and say "Good-bye" one more time.
From my "memory book" of times with Richard:
*Walking stations of the cross down Farmington Avenue.
*Holding a mini faerie gathering with Richard and my roommate Michael in my small skylit West Hartford attic bedroom.
*Being with him in the gallery, the day the CT state legislature passed the LGBT Civil Rights Bill.
*Tenting together at a faerie gathering.
*Dining out with Richard and making a decision that night, never to eat lobster again, for ethical animal cruelty reasons.
*Making a rainbow skirt for him for NYC Gay Pride, and then liking the skirt so well that I made a duplicate for myself. I wore that skirt in celebration of my mother's life after she passed.
June 22, 2013