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June 22, 2021 35 mins

BONUS - You know Kelli Dunham from previous episodes. Kelli joined the Missionaries of Charity looking for a life that made sense. That’s not what she found. She had a painful exit from the MCs. 

But there’s so much more to her story. We talked with Kelli about her life before the Missionaries of Charity and after. About her faith. About her comedy. But mostly about her complicated relationship with her mom.


For additional content and information, follow the show on Instagram @RococoPunch

This series was inspired by Mary Johnson’s memoir, “An Unquenchable Thirst.” Find it HERE - https://amzn.to/3whsTeO


TRANSCRIPT - https://www.rococopunch.com/transcripts

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
I would like to bring out onto the stage America's
favorite x non skateboard riding house about dwelling, nurturing, sweets, adorable, thoughtful,
thought provoking, anti racist comic, Miss Kelly Dunham from a

(00:22):
Cocoa Punch and I Heeart Radio. This is the Turning
America Lands. There are still four episodes left this season,
but today we have a bonus for you. It's a
little different. So like most of you, I used to
be a nun. Uh, very relatable. That's very relatable in
stand up comedy to get up and starts to talk

(00:42):
about how you used to be a nun and people
you know like and sometimes in straight clubs people will
be like, oh yeah, whatever, sister Mary bull dyke Uh
but um, I used to being on with the outfit
and everything. Uh. You know Kelly Dunham from previous episodes,
she's a former sister who's missed. Has told her she
walked like her shoulders were angry. But there's so much

(01:03):
more to Kelly's story. All these twists and turns. Of
my happiest childhood memories were learning words. I remember asking
my mom, what what does that bill? I mean? She goes, well,
what do you feel like you both love something and
Nanny don't love it so much? All I want? And
I was like, oh my god, that's exactly how I

(01:24):
feel about you. What my mom had plants in here. Yes.
One of our producers, Emily Foreman, talked with Kelly about
her life before the Missionaries of Charity and after about

(01:44):
her faith about her comedy. So, um, I just want
to go back, back, back, back, back back. Uh, what's
the first joke you ever told? But mostly about her
complicated relationship with her mom. So I'm the youngest of seven. Um,
my mom had had six other kids with as many

(02:06):
alcoholic husbands, which I think is really impressive to find
that one or two but another alcoholics. Um, sometimes you
just have our types, which, uh, you know when you
think about like, okay, so what the thought process like?
You know, my last five merriages alcoholics ended in financial ruin.
But I've got the right alcoholic. So I appreciate my

(02:29):
mom's level of hope. So that's a rural Wisconsin accent.
And you hear in Kelly's voice she grew up there
hard work and not talking about feelings with the family code.
So is Dale Carnegie, the author of how to win
friends and influence people. It was an incredibly popular book,
and Kelly's dad made the books philosophy part of life
at home. Well, first, my dad would frequently um mornings.

(02:53):
He would come down. We had to be sitting at
the table at sixam, and he would slap his hand
on the table and say, act him through the second
you'll be enthusiastic, and most people are just about as
happy as they make up their mind they're going to be,
which she would attribute to Dale Carnegie and sometimes to
Abraham Lincoln, although I've since heard that it was Dale
Carnegie quoting Abraham Lincoln, but doesn't sound like Abraham Lincoln

(03:14):
because Abraham Lincoln a clinical depression. I bet he did
not say that most people are just about as happy
as they make up their minds are gonna be in
the middle of the Civil War. You know, I have
a feeling that's not true, but it's a good story anyway,
I can imagine. Kelly says her dad would run Dale
Carnegie days and if you weren't following the b positive ethos,

(03:35):
you'd have to go to bed early. She says, there
are a lot of rules like that. He was strict,
but the first time Kelly made her dad laugh, she
knew she'd found an important tool. You could say her
comedy career started in that moment. Being funny was like
both a way to deflect things and a way to
have positive attention. So whose attention were you hoping to capture?

(03:56):
I mean maybe my mom's. Like hearing my mom laugh
was really a nice, nice thing, you know. I mean
also because my mom had a hard life. She had
all these kids, she had like these useless husbands of
varying degrees. You know, she had a hard life. So
I wanted her to I don't know, I wanted her
to be able to laugh. You know when you were
a kid, were you aware of life being hard for her? Then?

(04:22):
Only glimpses of it, especially when I was younger. Um,
I think her marriage to my dad also deteriorated as
a as time passed, But she was I really don't
think I saw her without her makeup till I was
like in third or fourth grade. Like, she was always
perfectly made up and perfectly put together. You know, she

(04:43):
was a person who that was important to her, and
she really maintained. Um, I don't know if it's a facade.
She also didn't want us to be like frightened, and
you know, she wanted us to feel secure. I think so,
I think that I didn't necessarily know it, I maybe
felt it somewhere because I was a very sensitive kid. Um.

(05:05):
So what my parents needed at that time, they needed
like a cheerful, very midwestern kid, right, what they got
was me. And I came into the world screaming as
a fully formed, winding, coastal sensitive queer. I was the
kind of kid that, um, when it rains, do you

(05:26):
know what when I was missed the bus when it rained,
because I would be picking up the worms off the
pig and putting them back on the grass so they
wouldn't get running like in a city. Did you believe
in God as a little kid, Yeah, very much so.
In fact, I can remember there's this Bill gaitheror song
It's God Loves to talk to a little boys while

(05:48):
they're fishing. It's a very sweet song, and I remember
my mom used to play it, and I was, you know,
thought more myself more as a little boy than a
little girl. But I would go to like one of
the ponds, you know, and uh like just take a
stick with a string on it, and like throw it
in there. And I was like, Okay, now guy's going
to talk to me. Well, I guess not out loud, okay,

(06:09):
but um. I have this um memory of my grandmother
when we were staying with her. She and my grandpa
built a cottage on towards Lake. This is beautiful lake
in northern Michigan, has like this crystal blue water. It's
spring fed anyway. So we'd go and stay with them
during parts of the summer. And one time I was

(06:33):
sleeping in the room where my grandma's because you know,
there's a lot of kids there, so we're all like
kind of doubled up. And I was sleeping in the
room my grandma, and I guess she couldn't sleep, and
so she was praying aloud about all of us. And
then I remember she came to me and I was like, oh,
I gotta lay really still, and you know, she was
praying for me, like, oh, you know, helped Kelly to
know how much Kelly Sue my family calls me, helped

(06:55):
Kelly Sue, do you know how much you love her?
And some other stuff too. I don't remember this, but
I was like, whatever happens my grandmother's really praying for me,
so maybe I'll be okay. You know. I was like
probably when I was intern, Um, were you worried you
weren't going to be okay? Well, I think there was,
like obviously I didn't fit in with my family, right.

(07:16):
I was like my parents really tried hard with the
gender stuff, like I was so clearly like a little
boy growing up, you know. Um, and they tried really hard.
But also like the world was against that. You know,
even now the world is against that. So doing better?
But yeah, and also they were worried for me, Like
I think they thought that the world was going to

(07:36):
crush me, you know, but they just didn't know what
to do. It was like who gave it? You know?
It was like somebody gave them a wolverine too, you know,
to raise What do we need a wolverine? We don't know?
And so, um, so you moved from Wisconsin to Florida.
Um and at this time, what's what's your faith situation?

(07:57):
So my mom um wasn't you know, when we were little,
was not a Christian, but she became a born again Christian.
And then when we moved to Florida, I went to
my mom sent us to a Christian school um, and
everyone was like, oh, okay, like this is a queer
kid in the making, Let's see what we can do.

(08:18):
And I got actually really involved in my church, and
you know, I would say that I was interested in
what God wanted for me in my life. And I
felt like, oh, well, there there's a God. There must
be some reason for me. You know, I don't really
know what it is, but there must be, like some
reason that I exist, and there's something I'm supposed to do.

(08:40):
When I was in high school and most of my
peers were drinking seema it was eight and giving each
other when I now know to be was horrible blow jobs,
I was attending church three times a week, wearing a
no Surfing in Hell t shirt and asking complete strangers,

(09:02):
excuse me, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior.
I was a big bananas born again Christian and my
mom was a big bananas born again Christians, so that
made her really happy, except for I was also a big, huge,
lifelong tomboy, and that made her very sad. One day,

(09:24):
Kelly came home and found a note from her mom.
It said, this sounds like something you would love and
there was a Glassie brochure for a missionary training program,
the Lord's boot Camp. Kelly looked at all the pictures
of smiling teenagers and thought, oh my god, this looks
like something I would love. When I arrived at the
Lord's boot Camp, it was essentially an unimproved Florida wetlands

(09:51):
and there was we washed our clothes by hand in
sulfur water we pumped. And also the place that we
were supposed to like wash up, they called it God's Bathtub,
was just this little area of the swamp that was
attached to another area of the swamp with this tiny

(10:14):
little drainage ditch, and in the other area of the
swamp were two alligators. When we questioned our leaders about it,
they were like, now, do you really think that an alligator?
Those alligators are gonna eat five hundred teenagers? And I
don't really think any of us thought they were gonna
eat five hundred teenagers, But doesn't even one seem like

(10:37):
a lot. One of the main features of the camp
was an obstacle course. They'd run it at five am
every morning. There is a series of physical challenges based
on biblical themes, all designed to help them become better disciples.
The last obstacle in the obstacle course was just called
the wall, and it was a series of walls, uh,

(10:59):
and they each were painted with something we would have
to get over in order to effectively serve Jesus. It
started with lust, and then pride, and then gluttony, and
the last wall with sexual confusion. When they weren't running
an obstacle course, they took classes in how to tie steel,

(11:20):
lay bricks, run power tools, even mixed concrete by hand,
all in the service of learning how to build God's kingdom.
I was having a fantastic time. It was an entire
summer of being a tomboy, and I returned home with

(11:43):
this newfound zeal, also with a new haircut. I had
a spiral perm and I had also attempted to bleach
my hair surfer blonde with actual bleach, which meant by
the end of the summer I couldn't even get a
comb through it. So one of my fault team members
took a razor and himed off almost all the hair
on the sides and a lot of the hair on top,

(12:03):
which of course leaving me a rat tail and back.
And I looked fantastic. When I walked onto my mom's
front porch dragging my stinky backpack, I said, Mom, don't
I look like a new person in Christ And she said,
you look a lot the same. So the teen missions

(12:26):
thing is like a general evangelical thing, but it was
being used as like a de facto conversion camp, like
my mom had hoped that I would come home, you know, changed.
I mean, they had these classes on uh, like from
Grubby to Grace and God's Gentlemen, which now I realized
were like gender appropriateness classes. It was like, you know,

(12:46):
just like the world's toughest summer camp. It was like
it was like if the missionaries of charity around a
fucking summer camp. That's what it was like. So who
did she want you to be? I don't know, maybe her,
you know, I think he was worried. She never thought
of me as like a maskline female. She thought of
me as like an ugly female, right. And my mom
was a very beautiful person. She was a very attractive person,

(13:07):
and that helped her in life. She knew how to
use it. She knew how to use that attractiveness, and
it was the kind of also her kind of her stick.
You know. See, I can remember watching my mom put
on her makeup her whole life. Like I've watched her
put on her makeup and talked to her while she
put on her makeup. I mean, even the smell of
makeup makes me think of my mom, you know. And

(13:28):
so what were you searching for then joining the MCS?
Like you know, I was looking for a life that
made sense. And what did your mom think of you joining? Um?
I think you know, she wanted me to have health insurance,
you know, Like, so she was a little bit like, okay,
you know, so you already know Kelly joined the m

(13:49):
CS and it didn't work out, But what did her
life look like after she left? Kelly was incredibly impressed

(14:18):
by the Missionaries of Charity when she first encountered them.
She admired their hard work, and she thought she'd found
her community. She converted to Catholicism, joined the Order, but
found she wasn't welcomed like other sisters. Maybe some of
it was her sense of humor, maybe it was her
appearance or her angry shoulders. Once sister described her as
scary and in the end, not fitting in took a

(14:39):
toll on her physically. She left flunked out, as she
puts it, Yeah, I was so sad when I left,
you know, because I was like, all right, well, do
you guys think this is working out? And they're like,
let us think about it. No. I mean like everyone
else that left, they were like begging them to stay.
Not me, They're like by and um, I remember where

(15:00):
my mom was with my sister. When she took me up,
she was like, you seem like you're grieving, like that
was the word she used. And I was like, well,
first of all, it's like this big germanic goodbye. I'm
off to marry Jesus. Goodbye. Oh hi, I'm back now,
you know what I mean. Like, um, so first it
was like kind of anticlimactic, but it wasn't even just that.
It was just like it just felt like it just
felt like you're here, oh here, Jesus, here is my life.

(15:22):
I give it to you, and Jesus is like smack.
Everybody wants your dumb gift of your dumb life, you know.
After she left the m c S. She started nursing school,
joined a softball team, and spent time with the Catholic
Worker Movement, a progressive faith based group, and she was
talking to a friend there one day and she was like, Kelly, like,
I know people who are um trying to suppress their

(15:46):
sexual orientation, and I watched them not be able to
love the people around them the way they should because
that's where all their energies going. And I was like,
you know what, that's true, and I've seen that a lot,
and that's not what I want. Like, if I really
believe in love, if I really think that love is
something that changes lives and helps people, then I just
have to be myself. Oh yeah. So I was raised

(16:08):
a strict evangelical Christian and when I came out to
my mom, she ripped up my birth certificate and sent
it to me. Yeah, and I was complaining about it
to my therapist. So I'm like, oh, that was so
past aggressive, and she's like, no, Kelly, that was aggressive.
So I take it to the countercler's office and he

(16:29):
looked at me and then looked at the pieces and
looked at me and then looked at the pieces and
he thought for a minute. He said, we get a
lot of this from people who looked like you, which
tells you my mom was not as original as she thought.
She was my mom would say that that is not
what happened. Uh, different narrative. Um, my mom was a

(16:55):
dramatic person. It was a very dramatic reaction, like okay.
Also even when she sent it to me, so I
was like, this doesn't you can send me my birth
certificate all you want. It doesn't make me not your kid,
you know what I mean? Like, that's not how that works. Uh,
you know. And we didn't really have a relationship for
a long time, Like I went long periods of time
without seeing her. Um. I think it didn't really even

(17:17):
become comedy early in my comedy career because it was
still so unresolved. I think it was still to raw
and me for other people to laugh at it. Kelly
met Heather at the Newark Airport Hotel during a queer conference.

(17:38):
They both went to Christian High school. They both knew
all of the words to the chorus of the Trumpet
of Jesus, and that was that. They started dating long distance.
At the time, Heather wasn't remissioned from ovarian cancer. Within
the first six months of their dating, it came back.
Heather would call Kelly to get through the night to

(17:58):
keep her distracted with stories and jokes until she could
take her next dose of a heavy painkiller. It became
clear that she was going to die, you know, maybe
not right away, but eventually. Like this wasn't a long
term relationship, you know. And Heather struggle at first, like
she was like, well, who starts a relationship when they're
so late in life? You know, Um, it just doesn't

(18:18):
seem like it follows the rule book, like she you know,
I think she didn't know if I was going to
be able to stick it into the end. I knew
I was going to be able to stick into the end.
I knew what I've been through, you know. Um, but
there was something really beautiful about being able to be
the right person at the right time. That was in

(18:40):
the same way that like the mission and the charity
just felt like, oh, I'm like, oh, this is what
I'm supposed to be doing, this is this is I'm
answering this call. I felt like I was answering the call.
We kind of try to have sense of humor about
it or in the house. I mean, I'm a stand
of comic. And she was a total smartass, so able
to the two of us. For example, one day when
she was really she had been on keyboard for a

(19:00):
one time. She wasn't feeling that well, and I called
her from the supermarket. I said, um, is there anything
I can bring you? And there is a long silence
and she said, yeah, how about a quarter pounds of
a Will to Live? Oh God fine. So I was like,

(19:27):
well she's going there. I'm gonna go there too. And
I was like, oh, honey, you know how it isn't
a trigger. Jose and Billy had organic and now I
don't get it all out, so just already that she
came back, She's like, huh damn. Kelly calls the day

(19:48):
how they died, Pudding Day, how they chose to end
her life surrounded by chosen family with a lethal dose
of medication mixed into a pudding cup. All this time
through the real relationship Head There's Illness Nursing School comedy sets,
Kelly's relationship with her mom remainstreamed until her stepfather's dementia

(20:09):
became worse and she flew home to help. He was
a retired army colonel and everyone still called him the colonel,
and so lost of people when they developed dementia, they
forget the names of their kids or where they live,
or you know, they're most fond childhood memories. That is
not what happened to the colonel. The colonel forgot. He
was a jerk, I think, because he forgot where the

(20:31):
scotch was. So I went to my mom's home and
helped her set up hospice. And the colonel was lovely
to me, was like, oh color, and I just I
love your I love your haircutt Soldier. I love the
ultimate compliment, I love your haircuts Soldier. That's oh Ron,
That's fantastic all. And we thought that he might not

(20:52):
make it until Christmas. And he was really so you know,
cognitively impaired at that point that he couldn't even follow sitcom.
So my mom loved the christ his tree, and he
asked her just to turn off the lights and he
just watched the tree, and every so often he would say,
that's a heck of a tree, and ants, that's a
heck of a tree. And so I would sit with
my mom, watch her as she would put on makeup,

(21:12):
and I wanted to tell her it was gonna be okay,
but I knew it wasn't that, so I just sat
with her. I don't know. Something really changed that year.
We just talked about our lives and you know, kind
of what was important in life and what wasn't and
not having any regrets and um, and it healed in
a way that I had never thought was possible. So

(21:35):
the colonel died a few days before Christmas. And when
people came to drop off food and UM saying, you know,
send their condolen says. My Mom's response was, this is
my daughter, Kelly. She's also a widow. She lost her
spouse as well. What's a moment that happened that you

(22:02):
would have never expected to came? Um, she came to
watch me perform at the Stonewall Inn in June. The
story of Kelly's mom at the historic Stonewall Inn in
a moment. All right, so my mom. Nine years I've

(22:41):
been performing, she has never seen me perform. You know
where My mom wanted to come see me perform in
the middle of June on the anniversary of Stonewall at
the Stonewall Inn. The gayest thing ever, Right, it's the
gayest thing I've ever done. Guess who I was opening for?
Lenny Breedlove. Who Lenny Breed Love Performance Artists queer performance artist. Now,

(23:03):
you remember Lenny's last show where Lenny like had a
little stuffed animals like Hi, I identify as an elephant.
HI identifies a teddy bear, right, very cute, very tame.
I thought that that's the show that Lenny would be doing. No,
oh no, in the show, my mom came to Lenny
walked on the stage wearing nothing but a dick, and also,

(23:28):
for no apparent reason that I could figure out, there
was twenty minutes of Lenny peeing into a bucket on stage. Now,
if you've ever been upstairs at the Stone Wall, you
know that the stage is maybe two or three feet
from the front row where my mom was sitting. So
I'm sitting in the audience thinking my mom and Lindy
breed Love are having a golden shower scene. And then

(23:54):
I said the words I have not said before or since.
I turned her friend, and I said, would you please
get my mom some more wine? So, um, we got

(24:19):
through that incident more or less okay, But oh the
questions the next day at breakfast, so she's like trying
to figure things out, right, So she's like, so there
is a woman a man, no, a woman, No, a
woman dressed like a man sitting on the lap of
the woman. The man, No, the woman dressed like a man.

(24:40):
Is that the way it always is? By this time,
Kelly had met her partner, Cheryl, a writer into poet.
Cheryl was at the stone Wall performance too, and Kelly
introduced her to her mom. She was like, she's beautiful
and I was like, yeah, I know, she's um. Yeah.
She was like, Kelly, UM, in your subculture? And I

(25:03):
was like, I didn't even know she knew the word subculture. Uh,
in your subculture? Are you considered attractive? And I was like, yeah,
I'm actually in my subculture, I am considered attractive. There's
like some women that want to date a masculine female. Ah.
And she was like, oh, I didn't have any idea.
And that actually just made her so relieved, you know.

(25:24):
And I think she started thinking me as more her
son than her daughter, and I think that helped to um. Wow. Yeah.
I was curious at that moment at stone Wall, at
that performance, if like seeing your mom there and your
friends there and your girlfriend they're like all hanging out
having this time. Does that sort of like I mean,

(25:45):
when I think back of like you as a teen
having these questions about your purpose. You know, that moment
where you sort of done in your searching and did
you have answers? I felt happy for sure. I mean
I think, you know, I don't know if anyone's ever
done and they're searching, you know. Um, it was a

(26:10):
moment who that it felt like a lot of people
worked really hard to get to that moment helped me
get to that moment, you know, like my mom's gay hairdresser.
You know, my mom had been watching Ellen for a
long time, you know, Lenny even who like when they
saw my mom just gave my mom a big hug,

(26:30):
like they've been waiting their whole lives to hug each other.
You know. Um, it seemed like there was some people
who are interested in me and her being happy and
me and her being friends, and that's really nice, you know.
And also that she got to experience it, you know,
she got to experience what it feels like to be
to be loved by chosen family mhm. And then unbelievably,

(26:54):
Cheryl was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. And how did your
mom and Cheryl get along? My My mom loves Cheryl. Um. Yeah,
like when Cheryl started chemo. My mom bought her bunny
slippers and like fussed over her, and like my mom
triked really hard to like give a Cheryl some mom energy.
And Cheryl really appreciated that, and I appreciate it. And

(27:17):
my sister was like, weren't you jealous? And I was
like no, in a way, that's like perfect because I
get to observe that love towards somebody I love, and
it's not complicated the way it would be between us,
you know, so I actually really appreciate that. Kelly says
that whenever there's a tragedy in her life, she does
a show. When Cheryl died, she booked a whole Southern

(27:38):
comedy tour. I don't know how people get through stuff
without having an outlet of writing about it and performing
by it and trying to make it funny. I don't
really know. It just seems like, wow, I it seems brave.
I want things. I'm being involved with someone who has
to see yoursellness, and I really like it gives you
a perspective. Um It definitely lenges the assumptions that the

(28:02):
universe is a good place right, definitely challenges those assumptions, like,
you know, like those bumper stickers and say God is
good all the time. I'm like, well, by the God
is good, but about the all the time part, right,
because some kids getting nukedia and some kid's getta pooy.
That's okay, you can laugh at my therapist totally does.

(28:31):
Kelly lives in Brooklyn in an apartment she affectionately calls
Queer study Hall. There's always a revolving door of friends
coming through. She's a community school director and she works
part time as a nurse, and she's developing a new
comedy tour fifty churches in fifty states ask for her faith.
Kelly stopped going to church after her time in the

(28:51):
Missionaries of Charity. Actually, if you look at the world,
it does seem like there is a God, but it
seems like God hates us, right, That's what it really
looks like. You know, um, the Haiti earthquake and then
a color epidemic, you know, like come on. But after
a while she discovered it was actually harder not to
be involved in a spiritual practice than it was to

(29:12):
do it. Why fight it? So she found a church
in New York, a very open church. In fact, she says,
the pastor once said that even atheists are welcome, and
I was like, I think this is my church, the
church where they don't care what you believe in. But
that almost in a sense doesn't matter. What matters is
like the community and the connection and trying to find meaning.

(29:35):
You know, the meaning is like for me, the meaning
is the spirituality, like trying to find meaning in like
whatever I experience, like try and convert whatever difficulty it
is into something that can help other people. Did you

(30:00):
talk about um, your mom's death with her? Did you
talk about death with her? Oh? All the time. It's
like her favorite subject for the last five years. Kelly's
mom died at the end of April after a year
and assisted living and then hospice. She had a form
of blood cancer. Kelly flew to Florida to be with her.

(30:22):
Her mom didn't ask her to come because, as Kelly says,
she's not a complainer, but Kelly went anyway. When we
were kids, like I remember being like, don't put me
on a machine, and we're like, Mom, we're just going
through the McDonald's drive through right now, but okay, don't
put on a machine. Got it? And she always said,
I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of um, I'm

(30:43):
afraid of suffering, and I'm afraid of being alone. Every
conversation for the last year, she said, they shoot horses,
don't they. She really was like she's I think it
made her really, you know, she had a very honest relationship,
I think with God. But she always said, like, I
just keep asking why am I still here. Kelly talked

(31:04):
to the staff at the assist at living facility, and
they'd say things like I love your mom's laugh, and
I just want to tell you this great thing your
mom did for me. At one point, even the director
of the facility was in tears talking about Kelly's mom.
So Kelly had an answer to her mom's question. I
came back and I was like, Mom, like, I I
can't tell you why you were here, but I can

(31:27):
tell you, like why God gave you this extra year
that you has been so difficult, But I can tell
you that you made people's lives. People at a assisted
living facility in Florida, in the middle of a pandemic,
the epicenter right, you made their lives easier and some
of the like the hardest times they will ever imagine.

(31:48):
I was like you change, like you brought light in
this like terrible difficult year. Um, you know, and I
was holding her hand when she died, so she got
she got what she wanted, you know, So she wasn't
and she wasn't suffering. So do you think that your

(32:10):
time with the Missionaries of Charity, all this sitting in
silence with others helped you be there for your mom?
I mean sure, you know, we spend years doing that.
You develop that capacity, and you develop also that it's
not an uncomfortable thing, like we could be quiet, you know. Um.

(32:31):
Even like one of the hospice doctors was like, yeah,
usually when you come into her room, people are just
like and there's an unconsciousnation. People are just chattering at
them or talking around them, you know, even though we
know the hearing is the last to go. And I
was like, well I don't there's not some secret I
need to tell my mom now, Like we've known she
was going to die for a long time and and she, uh,

(32:52):
like we've said what we needed to say, Like what
else am I going to say now? You know? Um?
But I think like the comfort with silence is I
guess the two things are like you know, being a nun,
and also stand up comedy, because definitely stand up comedy.
You know, you have to when you have to wait
for the laugh. That silence feels like a really long time,
but if you can hold the silence, you'll get a

(33:12):
bigger laugh. So I talk about that, And so now
people ask me where I am theologically um, And I
don't really worry so much about the afterlife, except for
maybe that it just sounds exhausting, like another life after
this one. I only want that if I can sit
on a couch and watch HBO documentaries. Otherwise I'm out.

(33:35):
But uh, you know, there was an attraction of like,
you know, baby butch nuns and priests and drag and
groovy smelling incense. But also there was like the wonder
of like thinking you knew all the answers, then that
if everyone thought like you, the world would just be fine.
There was a lot of power in that um. And

(33:55):
sometimes even now, I'll I'll hear like him being sung
and Catholic church as I walked by, and I'll get
kind of nostalgic, and I was think, oh well, and
then remember, you know, I was married to that guy,
and he was a little bit of a Jerk. I'm
Kelly Dunham. Thank you. M m m hm. This episode

(34:30):
was written and produced by Emily Foreman. Our editor is
Rob Rosenthal, Andrea Swah is our digital producer. Special thanks
to Amy Gaines, Sarah oh Lender, Bethan Macaluso, Travis Dunlap,
and consulting producer Mary Johnson. Her memoir and Unquenchable Thirst
provided inspiration for this series. Our executive producers are Jessica
Alpert and John Parati at Rococo Punch and Katrina Norvelle

(34:52):
at iHeart Radio. For photos and more details on this series,
follow us on Instagram at Rococo Punch. You can reach
out via emailed to the Turning at for Coco Punch
dot com. I'm America Lance, thanks for listening. M m
m m m m mmmmm
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