Cindy Hoffman died last night. My father heard and called me at 8 am to tell me.
Who is Cindy Hoffman? Well, absolutely none of you should know her, so this obit is for me and for me alone. Cindy Hoffman was a local woman who had three sons, one of whom was a year older than me, one a year younger, and another several years younger. Her husband is Jack, who is one of my fraternity brothers, although obviously decades older than me. My parents have known them for 52 years.
Cindy Hoffman was also the kind of lady EVERY single town in America runs on. She was the first to volunteer for ANYTHING. She was the town recorder for decades. I don’t recall EVER having voted since 1988 without Mrs. Hoffman running the polling station. If the town was forming a committee to get something done, she was either on it or running it. Any time any one needed help, Mrs. Hoffman was the first to volunteer her time.
She was also ornery and cantankerous, opinionated, had a good sense of humor, was sarcastic and occasionally profane, and liked to chat. Whenever I needed to know the scuttlebutt, I’d call her up or flag her down if I saw her driving around town. She was fun to be around, didn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t, and didn’t judge. She’d just roll her eyes and say “I don’t know what people are thinking” and then get back to work doing what she thought was right. I really became quite fond of her the last ten or so years I moved back here, and I will miss her.
She had a heart attack and a couple bypasses about two months back, and was in recovery for quite some time. I called her a few times as she was not allowed visitors because of the virus, and kept pestering her to let me cook for Jack and her kids. She was released two weeks ago and finally relented, and I made a massive lasagna dinner for her family so she wouldn’t have to. She called several times to thank me and she didn’t need to call once, but that’s just who she was. I had thought everything was going well with her recovery, but apparently she died last night at home before the ambulance could arrive.
And please don’t fill the comments with stuff like “sorry for your loss.” She’d hate that as much as I do, even though every time someone like Mrs. Hoffman dies, we all are gonna experience a vacuum and a loss. I’ll miss her. She was a lot of fun. America needs more Mrs. Hoffmans, not fewer.
Some of our family isn’t blood or oath based.
Here’s to Cindy Hoffman, and all Cindy Hoffmans. I truly hope she’s now causing good trouble in the afterlife with John Lewis, who I bet she’ll get along with famously.
(Am pondering a “thoughts & prayers” just to piss Cole off.)
Here’s to more Cindy Hoffmans. I’ve known a few, but not enough.
I raise a toast to Cindy. Cheers. ?
What a great tribute. You brought her to life, John. It was wonderful to get to know her.
She sounds like my mom, except my mom never ran for office. She didn’t have to. She bossed everyone around, elected or not. She always spoke her mind, everybody knew her, she was funny and smart and she knew all the stuff going on around the county. The number of people at her wake was kind of astounding. I’m sure it will be the same for the estimable Mrs. Hoffman.
In personal bad news, my oldest sister was just diagnosed with liver cancer. She also suffers from Crohn’s disease, so chemo is probably out. Send good thoughts, if you are so inclined.
I like this tribute to a woman with characteristics that are familiar (in other women I’ve known), but are ones I’ve taken for granted more than appreciated. Now that most of them are gone I’ve begun to recognize what they actually were, instead of how I stereotyped them.
Here’s to having known a bright light and having great memories!
You’re right Cole, each of us could probably name our personal Cindy Hoffman. Each of us should cultivate our inner Cindy Hoffman, because you never know- you could be someone’s Cindy Hoffman.
@geg6: Oh no. Sending thoughts, energy and best wishes to her and you and your family.
Very nice remembrance, John. I’m glad to know about her.
@geg6: please please take All the good thoughts.
Lord Fartdaddy (Formerly, Mumphrey, Smedley Darlington Mingobat, et al.)
I know what you’re going through. We lost a woman at our Quaker meeting last month who was irreplaceable. Anybody who ever needed anything, needed to know anything, needed to get anything done, they’d o to Judy Riggin. As you say, people like her are what keep this society running.
She was always ready and eager to help, always ready to listen to anybody who had a problem, always had something worth listening to to say. I only knew her for about the last five or six years, since I joined the meeting, but I know I’ll miss her for the rest of my life.
Sounds like Cindy Hoffmann was an absolute bobby-dazzler (Scottish for, I dunno, somebody you’re really gonna miss). Last year, my 90-yr-old totally Rockefeller Republican Mom told me a story about her Mom (who lived till she was 103) – when my Grandma was in her last nursing home 2000-2001, she spent ages making sure her fellow olds were registered to vote. I’ve no idea what party Nana Ann was going for, but the fact that she was recruiting is enough for me. So, no, not sorry for your loss – just happy you knew such an amazing woman as a great addition to your life jx
Every town needs a Cindy Hoffman.
Emma from FL
@geg6: Oh no. No, no. I send what little grace I have her way. Hang in there.
Emma from FL
And John? Mrs. Hoffman will expect you to step up.
So the key question now is—what sixty-something-year-old retiree is ready to step up and earn an obit like this in 2040? There has to be at least one who is now entirely bored with retirement and wants to be working on projects again.
She sounds like a great lady, and I am certain that there are many people like her, contributing to their communities.
Most towns used to have a Cindy Hoffman. I know my mother’s generation (born in the 1930s) had tons of them.
The Moar You Know
Cindy Hoffman and the millions of men and women like her are the ones who keep society running. Not politicians. Not the rich. Not the youth. Not the activists. Not old people who retreat into their homes to a world comprised of Fox News, bland food, and solitude.
No, it’s the people who are engaged with their communities, stay engaged for decades, and who talk to everyone and do the little needful things: they keep the world running.
Man, we’ve had a bad week here at work too. On Monday we found out that the brother-in-law of a co-worker, who also used to work here and who I knew, died of a heart attack while jogging. Then on Wednesday our administrative assistant’s uncle died. Yesterday another co-worker’s mother, who has been quite ill for some time, died. I said I can’t believe we had to have three sympathy cards in a week here. And, none of them had anything to do with COVID.
Sounds like your whole town will be in mourning, Cole. I hate it when we lose good people like that.
@debbie: lol I went door to door when I was ten to save the playground on the encouragement of my mother. Actually it worked and at least once a year the playground went to Fenway. Yes I saw Ted Williams play, but from where we sat the first baseman was cuter.
The reason it worked was the news was notified, that I would knock on the mayor’s house. My mom did fight to have a community college in my home town, and it was then that I realized she did more good then harm.
Thanks for bringing her to the rest of us.
May her memory be a blessing. Requiescat in pace.
Well all right then. For the month of August, the “H.” in my ‘nym is in honor of Cindy Hoffman. May her memory be a blessing.
All communities need Ms. Hoffman’s.
All communities have them.
All communities are lessened when they leave us.????
OMG, she sounds like a lot like my grandmother, one of the most formidable people I’ve ever known (for good and for evil) – and also the one who got me interested in politics, having been politically active most of her life. Except Nanny was very judgmental…
Your town was lucky to have her, and it’s wonderful she was a close family friend.
Here’s to Cindy Hoffman, who lived with boldness. May we all know a Cindy Hoffman and may we all become one. Rest well, Ms. Hoffman.
Cindy Hoffman sounds like someone I’d like to know. And through your terrific tribute, John, I do know her a little bit.
Cheers to Cindy Hoffman. Reading about her reminded me of a couple Des and Joan. It’s been 10 years and I still think of them – now it’s mostly to notice something that would have tickled them.
My best, most healing thoughts to your sister — and to you and the rest of the family.
A town that doesn’t have a Cindy Hoffman or two is doomed. Big cities can survive by having a professional political class. Smaller cities can get by hiring experts to manage things. But small towns can’t survive without people like Cindy Hoffman around to make things run.
Hail and farewell, Ms. Hoffmann. You did good by your people.
I’m figuring she wouldn’t want the Latin for the first part, but you know what? Looks fine in English too.
We have a good number of people like that in this town, which is why I love it.
Gin & Tonic
@Lord Fartdaddy (Formerly, Mumphrey, Smedley Darlington Mingobat, et al.):
I had a boss who would often say “nobody is irreplaceable.” As if to prove that point, he died when he was in his late 40’s, and he was right.
I cannot count on one hand the number of corporate executives I’ve worked with that are total idiots but have an assistant like Cindy Hoffman who really runs everything in the division. May she RIP.
@geg6: I’m so sorry.
@geg6: Oh no. My love and healing light to you and your sister.
OT, but I have a feeling Mrs. Hoffman would approve:
He didn’t offer; the BOD demanded. Womp womp.
Here’s to all the Cindys before, now, and to come. My grandma was one of them, as is her daughter-in-law (my mom) and her granddaughter (my sister). Sadly, the men attached to these fine women were or are basically useless drones (but we mean well!).
Some people have so much verve, are such an energy field just by themselves that they cannot live after severe injury. If their spirits cannot be free to better the world around them, their spirits move on to whatever comes next.
here’s to all the Mrs. Hoffman’s around the world that keep us all going.
I had a Cindy Hoffman as my 9th grade American Literature teacher. She was the first (of very few) teachers I had that I ever related to as a real person, as opposed to “A Teacher”. She hired me to help her move into a new apartment (probably broke all kinds of ethics, if not rules, but she had no fucks to give for that), and for pay, let me browse her book collection and pick out any of them that interested me. She was my friend, with probably five decades between our ages.
Raising a glass to Cindy Hoffman, Faye LaForge, and their kindred spirits!
Well, fuck that, I AM sorry for the loss of such a person wherever in the USA or the wider world they might have been. It obviously won’t help you or her, but if there is anything that COVID massacre has taught me it is that these everyday gems are the ones we should be celebrating. Not Donald Trump of the Apprentice, or Kanye West, or Jeff Bezos.
That’s why I’m glad the likes of Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman are going to Congress. A BLM activist and a school teacher, that’s who I want to represent me and not another 70+ white millionaire (in my case, Carolyn Maloney)
Thanks for this, John. You’ve reminded me to appreciate more actively the Cindy Hoffmans in my life.
Thanks for telling us about Cindy, Cole. She sounds like a great lady.
May she R.I.P.
I think I need that lasagna recipe–sounds like a great way to go out.
Rest in Peace
Sounds like she was one of those genuinely selfless people who’d lend anyone a hand.
We need more Cindy Hoffmans, not less.
To developing our own inner Cindys, when we wonder if we could do something. Yep, we probably could, and should.
@geg6: Great thoughts for your sister. Hope she smacks cancer then knocks it out of the park.
Oh, all my best thoughts to you and your sister. That is tough. Crohn’s alone is tough in itself.
@Gin & Tonic:
If somebody in your organization is irreplaceable, you’re in trouble, because one way or another you’ll eventually have to replace them. At the same time, not everyone is the same, so you need to figure out how to take advantage of the abilities of special people. The strength of a great manager is the ability to balance those two contradictory positions.
I’m really sorry to hear about your sister.
I thought of you today. I saw a sign in front of a bar (outside service only) that said “ Not saying David Bowie and Prince were holding the fabric of the universe together, BUT…”
@geg6: A tough diagnosis even without the added complications, but I am sending you both wishes for the best.
After a ridiculous week “at” work I feel like the Cindy Hoffmans of the world are ahead of the rest of us in understanding what actually matters in life. May her light continue to shine brightly as others take up where she left off.
I’m thinking that Cindy Hoffman is probably hanging out with Betty Cracker’s mom, having some fun and causing just a little bit of trouble, as needed.
Very nice tribute Blogfather.
@Salty Sam: Her name wasn’t Mrs. Robinson, by any chance?
Thank you, Mrs. Hoffman, for making the best of your time on this earth.
She sounds like someone I would have liked to know. Here’s to her having lived a good life.
J R in WV
Sounds like we need a whole Division of Cindy Hoffman type people, right now, working on voting safety and voter freedom.
Glad you knew her, Cole. I’m sure she was glad you came back to town…
Sorry for our loss.
J R in WV
So sorry for the news about your sister. Hard times for us all !! Best wishes for her and all of your family!
Thanks for all the good wishes for my sister. She’s had it tough in life. Diagnosed with Crohn’s at 19, back in 1969 when little was understood about it. A couple years back, she beat a small non-cancerous tumor on her kidney. Her husband was diagnosed with MS around the same time. She’s finally a grandmother (they adopted because her Crohn’s made birth not feasible) as of last year and pending a second in February. And now this. It’s probably a miracle that she’s still alive at 70, but this just seems a bit much right now.
I seriously still mourn them both. Been listening to a lot of their stuff while working from home. Gets me through it. And yes, they did.
@geg6: Good thoughts sent. When life’s a bitch, it’s usually to those who did nothing to deserve it. Sadly.
Rest in power, Cindy Hoffman.
Sending energy and light to your sister. ?
@geg6: wishing the best for your sister.
And rest in power Cindy Hoffman! The world was a better place because of you.
@Paul W.: This is a great post, that is all.
She sounds like she was a hell of a good gal.
Glad to have learned of her this morning; bummer to learn she’s gone.
Sounds like it is time for you (and others of us) to become Cindy Hoffmans this year.
@gkoutnik: Malcolm Gladwell would call her a “Connector” in his book Tipping Point. Every society needs them.