Cody’s Wish

23 01 2012

If you enjoyed the story of Vincent then you should also enjoy Cody’s Wish. Like Vincent, this is a true story from the career of Lollibells the clown.


Jackie the Teacher

Jackie’s reputation as a teacher with a broad range of experiences had spread nationally within the clown community. This became evident while at a clown conference in San Francisco with the Clowns of America International (COAI).


She was approached by two clowns who worked with the Big Apple Circus. They told her of a young boy they had seen recently at a hospital, whose condition was terminal. His mother told them at the time, he was not expected to live another week.


The clowns had been in town for a clown convention when they went to the hospital and met the boy, Cody, for the first time. He was so overjoyed by them and their antics that his mother asked if they would return to entertain her son again. The two clowns had a barrel organ like those we’ve all seen in cartoons where the organ grinder’s monkey works the crowd for money while the organ grinder cranks out a tune on the organ. They had taken their organ into the hospital and used it to entertain Cody, and had even let him play it. They had also made him “an official clown” giving him a red foam clown nose. While Cody was thrilled at the way they entertained him, he was especially happy that he was now a clown.


He said he wanted to be a clown so he too could help kids to feel better. The fact he did not have much longer to live did not prevent him from talking about the inevitable. Now, he felt he had something special to look forward to-he was going to clown heaven.


Advice from the Master

The two clowns had approached Jackie because they were not quite sure how to handle a request from Cody’s mother, but they thought, with her experience, perhaps Jackie could help them. The mother had asked them to appear, in full clown regalia, at Cody’s funeral. Knowing Lolli had done funerals in the past they went seeking her advice.


“You do whatever the parents ask you to do,” encouraged Jackie. “Does she want you to “clown up?”


“Yes,” was the reply. She wanted them in full clown costume.


“If that’s what they want,” Jackie continued, “then do it.”


Offering ideas, Jackie told them of once being asked to appear as Lolli at a little girl’s funeral. She was not given any direction on what to do but it was clear the parents wanted her to do something.


Knowing there would be plenty of children present at the funeral, she came to the gravesite with her clown car packed with pink helium-filled balloons; each with a pink ribbon attached. She then gathered the children around her and handed each one a balloon. Then in her normal voice, not her Lolli voice, and with the children formed into a circle around her, she told the children, “This is for Amy”. She then released a white balloon into the air; waited about 15 seconds before telling the children to release their balloons.


The single white balloon lifted skyward and began to move away. Carried by the same wind, the pink balloons followed the white balloon.  The meaning, that they would one day see Amy again, was clear and the parents were grateful, especially for involving Amy’s friends.


Clowns are supposed to be funny. Clowns are supposed to bring joy and make us laugh. How would it look, two clowns showing up at a funeral? “You aren’t there for anyone but the parents and the child. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks,” Jackie instructed.


Cody’s Wish Granted

We have such a steadfast respect for the dead that the thought of someone walking up to the gravesite dressed as a clown is unthinkable and completely unacceptable. But that is exactly what these two clowns did.  On the day of Cody’s funeral, they parked their car near the grave just as the graveside ceremony was about to begin. As they approached graveside, with everyone else appropriately dressed, they were met with stares of consternation and anger. How dare they interrupt this solemn moment with their vulgar, irreverent display of silliness! How dare they violate the respect intended for Cody! But this was what the parents had requested.


The angry thoughts of the mourners were interrupted when the boy’s father stood and introduced the clowns as friends of Cody’s. They had brought the barrel organ along with them, and taking positions at the head of the casket, one began to play. At the end of the song the father said, “Cody’s mother and I wanted each of you to hear the music our son loved so much-the music this clown made with this box.” He told them how much Cody had wanted to grow up to be a clown and share joy and happiness with others and how these two clowns had made Cody a clown while he was in the hospital.


“The last thing they gave him,” he continued, through his tears, “was a red clown nose. Cody was so proud of the nose and being a clown that he is wearing his nose now and will be buried in it.”


As the crowd became informed and began to understand, the mood changed from resentment to appreciation for what the clowns had meant to Cody and for their presence at his funeral. The two clowns then went throughout the crowd of teary mourners and gave each one a red foam clown nose. Another song on the barrel organ and then Cody’s mother and father, each wearing a clown nose, removed their noses and placed them within a ring of flowers on top of Cody’s casket. Everyone else was then invited to do likewise.


Later, when telling Jackie about the funeral, one of the clowns told her that you could hardly see the top of the casket because of all the red noses. What began as a time of umbrage upon seeing clowns at a child’s funeral, ended as a beautiful moment and a demonstration of God’s love for one of His children. Cody’s mom had told the clowns that every time she sees a clown nose she would be reminded of the infinite joy her son had experienced while being entertained by them during his final days. She thanked them for making Cody’s final hours a time of happiness rather than one of fear and anguish.


You can measure distance. You can measure time and weight. You can place a value on possessions. But you cannot measure joy. There is no such thing as a joy meter or a happiness scale. It’s just something that comes to us in varying degrees and at different times. And when it comes at a time when we are at our lowest, that’s when its value is greatest. Nothing can replace it. There is nothing short of salvation itself that is of greater value than for a parent to see joy in the eyes of their child at his dying moments. It brings an enduring memory to the parents which cannot be replaced. That’s the ultimate magic of a clown-to bring happiness to the dying.




2 responses

23 01 2012
Jackie Garner

Thank you Bill for sharing that you are such a blessing Olive you Lolli

24 01 2012
Bill Taylor

I’m honored to share your stories, Jackie. You are truly an unsung hero.

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