I offer this list in memory of those who left us in 2008. To this list, please add those who wouldn’t fit on this blog, those whom I’ve forgotten, as well as those who were only known to you. When I think of my own private list, I add the neighbor who lived quietly at the end of the street and died the same way; the friend of a friend who wrote the book he never saw published; the young man I danced with at a raucous country wedding in Bavaria when I was 16 and he was 20.
FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.
Richard Blackwell. When I worked at a Hollywood PR agency in the 70s, Mr. Blackwell, who invented the “Ten Worst Dressed List,” was a client. One night my boss and his wife were invited to Blackwell’s house for dinner and, of course, we were all curious what the famous Mr. Blackwell served. KFC, on paper plates yet. LOL!
George Carlin, comedian. Once I went to a party at Mr. Carlin’s home. It wasn’t Mr. Carlin who was the host, but an acquaintance of mine who was temporarily “bunking in” with George. I wasn’t impressed with the house, and soon thereafter also became disenchanted with my host.
Miriam Makeba, singer and human rights activist. I saw her at UCLA one night way back in my student days where she performed “The Click Song.”
Paul Newman, actor. I have no personal story about Paul Newman, except that he had been with us for so long, like a favorite uncle, I counted on him always being here.
Sidney Pollock, director. I was dating the man who is now my husband when we saw “Tootsie.” To this day, hubby still recalls that I tried to break up with him after seeing the movie. I’m not sure why. Unlike Tootsie, my guy was employed then and still is.
Paul Scofield, actor. I will always see Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas Moore, the man who went to his death rather than acknowledge the king as the supreme head of the Church. I wonder if any history books describe Henry VIII as a schmuck?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, writer. The life story of this Russian writer is a novel in itself. Imprisoned in his own country, then forced into exile in the U.S., no man loved his country as he did. In Vermont, he never found his footing, never felt at home, or understood the American psyche. I think his happiest day was when he was able to return home to Mother Russia. What a tragedy. One of us should be writing his story!
And while sometimes during 2008 I wished, in the words of Eddy Arnold, who died this year, to “Make the World Go Away,” I must agree with William F. Buckley, Jr. (another 2008 casualty), who said, “Life can’t be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years.” Now that we’re starting a new year with new plans and new hopes, let me leave all you writers and readers with a quote from T. S. Eliot:
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words await another’s voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!