I interviewed Irin Poellot on December 18, 2022 at the Life Care Center of Longmont, Colorado where she lived after giving up her house in West Longmont in early 2020 after a suffering a heart attack. I visited her there several times, usually around her birthday and holidays. We always had much to talk about. I had known Irin since moving to Boulder in 2005. She had a large house on acreage that she bought with Ellis Cameron, her partner of twenty-five years around 1992.
Ellis passed away in June of 1995 and Irin maintained the large grounds and garden till she moved to Life Care Center of Longmont. I never knew Ellis, but Irin says he was a very talented artist and she showed me several of his drawings.
Irin was a trained operatic singer. She was a soloist at First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan prior to moving to Colorado after Ellis retired. She believed in and supported SICA and collected member’s artwork. She also worked in many Subud committees and helper jobs although she resisted working on the international level. I attended many accompanied solo concerts featuring Irin’s singing in English and Italian at various care facilities in Boulder.
Irin loved gardening and shared a lot of her knowledge about high altitude, dry climate gardening with me when I began my little plot in a neighborhood community garden. She also maintained a great number of thriving geraniums that she would move in out of her living room with the changing seasons.
Irin was my first paying customer prior to the official start of my handyman business in 2006. In addition to fence building and repair, deck staining and minor plumbing jobs, she kept saying she wanted me to clean out and organize her garage, but I never did it. I think she knew it was something she had to tackle herself and face all those decisions an elderly person must make about what to keep and what to throw out.
Before I got to Boulder, Irin hosted Sunday latihans at her home for both the men and women. She hosted the annual Christmas parties for many years before and after I moved to Boulder. These parties were always great fun and featured our best and most lavish holiday potluck offerings, music, carol singing and some light imbibing. Guests were encouraged to help decorate the tree as well. Around 2008 (not sure how long before that) Irin worked as a receptionist at the Colonial Mortgage Company. My real estate agent introduced me to that company, and the manager arranged my first mortgage in Boulder. This was not an easy thing to do when the purchaser is starting a business and doesn’t have a steady local financial track record and very little cash. Irin left that job shortly after my house closing as the whole real estate financing system collapsed. I may have gotten the last sub-prime mortgage… just under the wire, and I believe Irin’s presence in that office may have had something to do with it.
The Subud women living in the Longmont and Erie area consistently arranged Sunday afternoon Latihan’s at Irin’s care facility. Many members would take her on outings and for dinners and drives which she appreciated. Triana Singelyn made sure she was able to join us for brunch and latihan at our recent regional gathering at a local retreat center in Boulder.
We first heard the news that Irin had fallen and broken her femur from Laura Lathrup via Heather Starsong; our Subud news courier. With Irin’s already failing health and because she needed a higher level of pain management, she was moved to a different hospital than the one she was originally taken to. Local Subud members waited for more news and were told Irin was unresponsive. Leigh Collings and I planned on seeing her on our return from visiting Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday, September 17. When we got to the address, we discovered she was in a Longmont United Hospital, hospice unit and in a coma. Although she had a steady pulse (checked manually by Leigh) there was no vital signs monitor in the room and no IV fluids, typical of hospice care. It was clear from her shallow breathing and unresponsiveness, that she was likely to die soon. We sat with her for about thirty minutes while listening to quiet Italian operatic music from a CD of music recorded at First Presbyterian Church in New York. We prayed and spoke softly to her. There was no detectable response. On Wednesday evening we held our monthly regional council Zoom meeting. Leigh, who works in geriatric care and has seen many life transitions like this suggested Irin was dying and not to expect a recovery. Irin passed around noon the next day; Thursday September 21, 2023.
In the SUSA Archives interview Irin gives this description of the latihan and what it means to her. When asked once “what does (the latihan) do for you?”, I replied without thinking, “it works for me . . . you know, it makes me new every time I do it. The latihan leaves me feeling fresh and renewed every time. Yes, it’s worship, it’s many things.It has proved to be more than what I expect to receive in the church.”