Charles Barsotti (Sept. 28, 1933 -June 16th, 2014)

Many of you have known for years of my deep affection for the cartoonist Charles Barsotti whose work appears regularly in the New Yorker Magazine. His iconic little dog cartoons are always funny and often touching, but none more so than this one. I remember the day I turned the page in my copy of the magazine and this image was on it. I was in a little cafe in the Village just a block from home and enjoying my croissant and latte on a rainy but cozy morning. There were maybe six other people chatting at tables. I glanced at the picture, the image of the entrance to Heaven, the older man arriving, and the little dog bounding towards him.....and then I read the caption. I will never forget...ever, that moment...... I was stunned as tears began to literally flow down my face. When they started hitting the paper, the sight of them only brought more heavy tears, and I had to cover my face to hide a sob choking its way up my throat. I grabbed my napkin but it was no use....It was clear that I was crying and I rested my elbows on the table and smothered my grief, but it was too late. People had started to notice because the nice waitress came over and whispered to see if I was ok. I looked at her and saw the other people looking over with gentle expressions of concern. I couldn't speak...so I turned the cartoon to her and pointed. She looked puzzled I think because she perhaps couldn't believe that it was something on a page of a magazine....and then her eyes widened...and stared. And they filled.... filled quickly! She blinked and looked like she had to read it again to be sure. She turned away and then back to me. Our eyes told us everything we needed to know. She put her hand on mine and pressed and then walked away wiping her eyes. The man behind the counter asked her something and I could see her explaining, as his face grew solemn and then saddened... the lady at the table next to mine asked if I was alright, and (as best I could!) I mentioned the cartoon...she seemed nice so I held it out to her. Smiling softly, she took it and ....her eyes did the same thing... glancing, reading, widening...and then her eyes closed. She stayed like that for a moment, her mouth set for a second, and then two tears began to slip down... she opened her eyes, now changed completely and gulped a sound ...or a word but couldn't finish...... I don't need to tell you that we all shared the magazine that morning...all of us strangers in a little cafe with the rain falling outside on West 4th Street. Each person was deeply touched, and we began to chuckle through our collective tears at how simple Barsotti's lines are, both drawn and written. And we all marveled at how such a sweet image could express a humorous little joke on the surface, as well as a profoundly deeper message underneath. I have shared that cartoon over and over on my page here on Facebook whenever a friend has posted about the passing of a pet. And I have said everytime that this image is what I hope is waiting for us...certainly waiting for me. Charles Barsotti lived to be 80, a good long life, but ....when I think of his wonderful eye and voice and hand and spirit being still now... no more beautiful thoughts like this to be drawn and shared, well... I'm sure you know how I feel. And all I can do is to look at all the brilliantly simple cartoons he created, and this one in particular, and feel the gratitude, joy, and tears for a few black lines on a white page. And that they can live within you for a lifetime....and beyond...http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article567945/Beloved-New-Yorker-cartoonist-Charles-Barsotti-dies-in-Kansas-City.html   

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