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Sunday, July 16, 2017

(9) PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR EYESIGHT.

March 10, 1989   West Cornwall
From Ed Brecher:
      I feel as if you and I have just come home from a long, exciting, and rewarding trip together, with another trip likely soon.
     Here are Chapters Two through Five.  I'm happy with them, subject to such improvements as you and Janeth can find to make.   As you can see, I'm delighted with almost all of Janeth's suggestions; and henceforth I'm going to presume to call her Jan.     
     My life is beginning to feel like Ed's in Chapter Five.  I wrote Rainbow in Amsterdam that I was planning a trip to Vienna with Joan.  Then the conference site was changed to Rome.  Today I got a postcard from Rainbow asking if Joan and I would mind her joining us in Vienna.  Joan is coming here tomorrow, and I shall check with her after a lobster dinner and soak in the hot tub.
March 16, 1989
West Cornwall
From Ed Brecher
    Your letters to me are filled with graceful thank‑yous for my editorial help.  Now it is my turn to thank you.
     The past year has been a very difficult one for me.  You know about my July heart attack.  You don't know that my cataracts have been getting worse, and that my ophthalmic surgeon won't operate because I have had detachments of both retinas and there is a risk of re-detachment during cataract surgery.  Further, while you have some sense of my forgetfulness and my inability to organize data on a substantial scale, you have no sense of what a vast hole this leaves in my life and my psyche.  Cut off from the kind of writing I have done for half a century, I feel worthless and empty‑‑except for one factor.
     Working with you on your book has given me a raison d'etre.   What greater gift could you give me?   This outburst is triggered in part by your 9 March letter and the enclosed condensation of eb & bbm Correspondence.
     First, the quality of the condensation is excellent.  You don't need me to condense (though I'm still available, of course.)
     Second, the condensation reveals how subtly I went about worming out of you those hundreds of pages I suspected from the beginning were there.  You write about the man who asks, "How are you?" and gets a 20,000‑word reply.  I'm conscious of the man who, when he receives a draft of a magazine article about a poet, proceeds to insert a crowbar into his correspondent and to pry out her next‑to‑inmost secrets.  (I'm quite aware, of course, that there is an innermost layer which you quite wisely keep to yourself.)  I confess that my initial intention was primarily prurient; I wanted to read all that juicy stuff about your adventures, especially your erotic adventures.  That was why I was so amazed at enjoying your account of a baby's christening.  But I also had from the beginning the thought that I needed a "project"; and since you had suggested that I edit your article about your mother, the possibility of editing your writing was in the back of my mind when I urged you on 28 January 1988 to write about you.
     Like you, I am pleased at how far we have come together; but I want to re‑emphasize the limitations on what I can accomplish, limitations that I set forth earlier but that you deleted when condensing eb&bbm.
     1) I'm still pretty good at organizing and editing a chapter.  But when it comes to organizing a book, as I have now abundantly demonstrated, I flunk.  Consider my unsuccessful efforts to integrate the pre‑1942 material into the post‑1950 material.  For this you are going to need, and I hope you will find, an agent or publisher who will know how.
     2) This book is addressed to two audiences about whom I am totally ignorant.  One is the audience of women who buy escapist literature.  GWE is, in my opinion, much more than mere escapism; but women are going to buy it because it is escapist, not for the wisdom it exudes.  You need someone who knows this market to carry on from where we are.
     The other market of which I am grossly ignorant is composed of editors and publishers who edit and publish escapist literature for women.  This is at the moment the crucial market and one a good agent should understand.  You are going to need other guides.  I hope you find them.
     Which leads to the issue you have raised several times: the crediting of my services in the published book.  I have strong feelings about this; let me state them bluntly.
     I want the book to be well published and to sell like hot‑cakes.  This depends in part on the public persona of the author that the book presents.  I am much more interested in that persona than in having my name on the preface.  If this were a work in my own field, or if I were planning additional forays into women's escapist literature, or if I were younger and needed items for my resume, my feelings might be different; but as things are, neither my ego nor my career needs recognition.      
     Moreover, one of the questions that is sure to arise both among publishers and among reviewers and book buyers is this: Did BBM really write the book herself, or did some shrewd male exploiter latch onto her and ghost it?  Ours is a suspicious culture; even the slightest evidence for the latter hypothesis is bound to be picked up and exaggerated by reviewers, for example.  And publishers are bound to be aware of this risk.  They have often been bit by quasi‑hoaxes of this kind.  I'd be horrified if the reception of the book is marred by such unfounded suspicions.  So, please, let's play me down, way down.
                   #            #            #
     Weeks ago, I wrote "I don't believe this" in the margin opposite your statement that your suicide attempt represented your anger at Ed turned against yourself.  You challenged my disbelief.  I didn't disbelieve your anger against Ed.  I was really disbelieving something quite different: the general theoretical view of many shrinks that suicide (indeed, depression) is anger against others directed inward.  I believe that most suicide attempts are quite simply explained:  the would‑be suicide doesn't want to go on living.  Trying to explain that simple fact away is a stance I find highly objectionable‑‑ demeaning to suicides.  
     I know that you have raised numerous other points that I have to date ignored; but this is enough for today.  More anon.
March 17, 1989 Weymouth
To Breck:
    Note from Jan, re condensation of Brecher‑Malley correspondence:  "Loved this group of letters and love Ed Brecher as you do, `without reservation.'   What a darling man, and how beautifully he comes across to us in his writing.  He applies his own rules, obviously‑‑not a word wasted anywhere." 
March 18, 1989 Weymouth
To Breck:
      I just received your March 16 letter and am overcome with tenderness and concern.  Your precious eyes . . . and all this time you've kept your worries about them to yourself.  You are a good soldier as well as a good editor, good friend, good person.
     I called Kathie and told her about your detached‑retina risk if your cataracts were to be operated on.  Dick thinks there's no place better than Mass General and Mass Eye and Ear but allows there are excellent medical centers in Hartford and New Haven.   Have you had a second opinion?  If you had any interest in coming to Boston, I would do whatever I could to be helpful.  It slays me to think how uncomplainingly you have used your eyes on separating the worthwhile from the worthless in my writings.  If only the latter weren't so predominant, exclamation point.
     You aren't the one that flunked on the pre‑1942 material. It was the teenager herself, a lousy sow's ear of a writer.  Small wonder you couldn't produce a silk purse.  If my parallel treatment of Vonnie's pregnancy and mine also falls flat, I don't think anyone can come up with an answer.
     I don't understand why you downgrade your ability to organize a book.  In my opinion, you have done exactly that, and beautifully.  To repeat my broken‑record refrain, I never could have done it alone.  There would be no GWE without you.  Since you feel so strongly about staying out of the picture, I'll abide by your judgment.  But, if Great White Eagle has a chance of selling like hotcakes, there has to be a way your role can be credited.  Isn't it the norm for editors to work closely with authors, supervising their progress and making suggestions when called for?  Surely this function would not lead to ghost‑writing speculations but should warrant acknowledgment of your contri-bution.  I do have to deal with my conscience, Breck darling.  You mustn't be so selfless that I end up feeling guilty.
      I am sending you the marriage anecdotes, along with a note suggesting what you might be able to use.  The only other chapter I hoped you would tackle someday was the one about Kathie.  This was before I knew how much I was asking of a friend with serious vision problems.  Though no one could handle Kathie's story better than you, perhaps an agent could refer me to an adequate substitute.      
     You will also receive Chapters Two through Five.  I have added two pages to "Jack and Ed" concerning my mother's death.  When I wrote Jack from Fort Lauderdale in December of 1972, she had died only two and a half weeks earlier.  A resident in the apartment below Mother's saw water coming through her ceiling.
     Mother was found in her tub, dead of a heart attack or a stroke, the water still running.  That fall I had taken her to the local hospital's emergency room two or three times late at night because of "spells" that frightened her.  The doctors could find nothing to worry about. One even said he wished his heart was as strong as hers. What added to my shock and grief was remorse that my telephone had been unplugged the night Mother resorted to a calming bath (as was her habit).  Had she tried to call me? 
     This may be the "unfinished business" you referred to when I sent you the article about Mother.  I still think her life was interesting enough to be written about but not by a flounderer like me.
      More thoughts on ghost‑writing:  I think Beryl Markham, who wrote Into the Night about her flying adventures in Africa, had a problem with someone ‑‑ her husband? ‑‑ claiming to have ghost‑written her book.  He may have offered suggestions, but the book was clearly written from a woman's point of view.  I'm convinced he was grabbing credit he didn't deserve.  Then there's Thomas Wolfe and his cartons filled with thousands of pages that editor Perkins transformed into Look Homeward Angel and Of Time and the  River.  Edited, yes; ghost‑written, no. 
     Your comment about our suspicious culture reminded me that Ed couldn't believe The Diary of Ann Frank was written by so young a girl.  He said her father must have written it.  If I didn't call him a male chauvinist during the ensuing heated argument, it was because the term hadn't been invented yet.  I should think the fact that much of my boating and flying material was published years ago would give credibility to my authorship of GWE.  I also have all Darrell's letters; enclosed is a Photostat of the first one.  I have all kinds of proof that I am a manic letter‑writer and ‑saver.  Fifty black‑bindered notebooks, for example, seven of which are devoted to Kathie, around ten to the other kids, seven to my mother, several to Ed and me before, during, and after the divorce; then there's Travel, Pets, Parties, Adolescence, Vaughan, Mimi, Boating, Flying, etc.
     While it would be unfair if suspicions of ghost‑writing were attached to my book, you and I know that it was ghost‑condensed.  I think your achievement is fantastic.  I regret that I can't give you credit but will accept your desire to be played down, "way down." 
      Your statement on the reason for my attempted suicide sounds logical.  It's possible that at some time I picked up on the anger‑directed‑inward theory.  God knows I was unhappy enough to think death was preferable to living with so much pain.  Listen  to me, Sisters.  No man is worth your life.
       Dear, generous Breck.  How fortunate I am that you are in my life.  I'm glad you're glad that I am in yours.  
      Please take care of yourself and your eyesight.  If I should not be troubling you with these added chapters, say so.  You've done more than enough to start GWE on its way. Feel free to bow out now, if that is the sensible course to take.
March 26, 1989   West Cornwall
From Ed Brecher:
Memo
     1) I enclose, re‑edited, Chapters Two through Five.  So far as I'm concerned, they are ready to go.
     2) I also return herewith all (I think) of the photos in my possession, including a slew of flying pictures and the instrument panel of the Skyknight.
     3) You have a knack for captions under the photos.   Please put them under all photos you send out (but Darrell's sketches obviously don't need them.)
     4) I have now read the "Marriage Anecdotes" and "Of Unexpected Pregnancies and Reluctant Grandfathers" drafts you sent me, and I'm sure there is usable material there.  However, not for Phase One.  As I stressed in a memo on phases I sent you a year ago, Phase One should be only a hundred pages or so‑‑enough to capture an agent's or editor's interest and secure her/his help in organizing the remainder.  Too much at this phase is a fault.  We are already well over 100 pages.  Let's terminate Phase One while we're still ahead.  The same goes for the Kathie chapter and for other potential additions.  Remember that what we are presenting here is a sample, not the book.  That is why I added the "NOTE TO EDITORS" at the beginning instead of the end ‑‑so that readers will know they are reading a sample.
     Have a wonderful trip.  I expect to.  Call me when you get back from your visit with Ed and Aliceann.
April 2, 1989  Weymouth
To Breck: 
     Jan and I had a grand time reading Chapters 2‑5, agreeing with most of your emendations but "ganging up" occasionally.  I wouldn't be so bold if I hadn't learned during the past months how very tolerant and open to suggestion you are.  It was about a year ago that you made a comment about my ear being better than yours "and if you think you are right, you unquestionably are."   I don't have that much faith in my ear, but I am awed by my sister's.
     Jan was pleased with the compliments you sprinkled through our latest draft.  I do hope you will meet each other sometime soon.  It would be fun to take you to the golf club for dinner. We could sit on the screened porch, where it's quieter and more private than the dining room.
     Here are the memos for Chapters 2‑5:
     Chapter Two, p.9.  We like "Breakfast was barely warm by the time Vonnie returned."  
     p. 23.  Re "Let's not forget the Blue Hill," I said uneasily.  Your change to "I remarked" suggests that I was calm and relaxed, but Breck, it's scary up there at night.  The pilot's alarm is contagious and lingers even after reassurances.  I guess you have to be there.
    Are you satisfied with the revisions in Ed's comments? And the first sentence about "automatic rough," as worked out by Jan?  We welcome your fine‑tuning.
     Chapter Three, p.18.  I'd like to keep "mustachioed."   Combined with imperious sultan, I don't see it as repetitious of Ahmet's "wearing glasses and a dark mustache" five pages earlier.   To me, "mustachioed" has a more sinister ring than "goatish."
     p.20.  The "husband‑manager" avocation would be good in another context, but I don't think I'd say this so soon after The Letter.  The term would have lost its fun.  I suggest instead:  "But now another answer occurred to me."
     Chapter Four, p.2.  I didn't need to ask Jan about "naked."   I already knew she preferred it to "nude."  But I wanted to save "naked" for Patty in the next chapter.  I had jotted "unclothed" with a ? for Jan.  I was in my study when she called, "How about saying  'they never saw each other without their clothes on' or `with their clothes off'?  I know it ends the sentence with a preposition, but it's the way people talk."  I liked the idea‑‑how about you?  Jan also suggested "undressed" but added "I do like `without their clothes on' and devil take the prep!"
      p.9. I made a change in the "bittersweet" conversation.  To define it more explicitly than Jack did, it's a wild vine with bright orange berries, often used in fall flower arrangements.  I think most women‑‑and few men‑‑ would know what it was.  If you would like further clarification in the text, Jack could say "Of course I know what bittersweet is.  It's that flower‑arrangement stuff you pick up off the floor when it dries out."  But does that slow down the line too much?
     Is your blood pressure still low and your tolerance high? 
     p. 10.  Jan sees a way to preserve the hidden meaning in "I didn't know I would miss her so much."  She knew I intended readers to assume I was referring to Mother's leaving for Florida.  She inserted "Mother died of a heart attack day before yesterday" after the first paragraph. 
     Jan preferred to retain "enormity" of my loss.  And although it may be a cliché, we liked the "rock" I had known for 32 years.   However, I now notice Jan's afterthoughts in the margin of her notes.  "partner"?  "comrade"?  If you still feel negative about "rock," I wouldn't mind a change to "comrade."
      p.13, June 9.  With Jan's help, I slightly revised the conversation with Jack at Migis Lodge when I paused outside our cabin , "looking, feeling, smelling, enjoying. . ."  She doesn't think the repetition of the word "cabin" matters because it's such a funny line‑‑but we would both accept "Well, come  on in, honey. We can do all that in here" if you prefer it. 
     Still with us?  Then on to Chapter 5:
     p.2.  I talked with Jan on the phone about my response to Ed's "You're perfect" and reminded her of your "He sure knows how to needle an ex‑wife."  I also told her what I had actually said in my letter to Darrell:  "He sure knows how to hurt a guy."  She laughed.  We like this answer because it's clearly a joke.  To speak of "needling" is sharper and might give the false impression that this was something Ed often did.  To refer to myself as a guy is okay, I think, in modern parlance.  Vonnie and her friends used to refer to each other as guys, whether male or female.
     p. 2, bottom of pg.  I love the word "bellow" but would prefer not to portray Teddy as worse than he was.  His fond parents and other relatives would be unhappy.  To avoid repeating "announced," I have changed it the second time: "...then proclaimed to the congregation, `Now I need a golf ball.'"     p.12.  "the only rock within a thousand miles"  Jan writes,  "Ed's style is to exaggerate, so don't reduce the distance.  `1000' is funny.  Less literal."
    p.14. We were on the verge of accepting "captain of the Ed Malley Management Team, then decided we still liked "president."   When I asked Kathie a few weeks ago if committees ever had presidents, she said, "No, but people are always forming teams these days, and the leader of a team can be called the president."   Pretty please, Breck?  It's my first and last chance to be president of anything,.and I'm sure Aliceann wouldn't mind sharing the title.
     p.15. Re threatening to divorce Ed again if he didn't go with me to Disney World, Jan comments:  "I prefer `a tiny little three‑day‑trip with your ex‑wife.'"
.   p.17.  Jan thinks most readers will know I was referring to Aliceann, not her recipe, so urges me to keep the warmth of "this treasure."  Would it help make it clearer if I said, "Ed, you gotta keep this treasure in the family!"  ??  The next line also helps:  "Ed does his best to keep us all in the family."
     p.19.  Jan said I should ask you to make a choice between "bounding naked into his kitchen at odd hours" and "bounding naked into his kitchen while he was making cocktails."  We couldn't decide.     
     Still love us?  We love you, too!!!!!!!!  So there.
     To turn to a personal matter, I have been rereading the part of your letter to Ed (he sent me a copy) concerning sex and aging women.  I was looking for courage.  I'm expecting Jack to show up in a few weeks, either for a brief visit before he joins the Peace Corps, or for a permanent move east.  You've heard of cold hands, warm heart; my problem is:  warm heart, cold feet.  
     In your letter you said many women view a flaccid penis as a sign that they are aging and losing their attractiveness.  That isn't my dilemma.  What turns me off ‑‑ indeed horrifies me ‑‑ is my own flaccid body.  If I am shocked at what I see in the mirror, what will Jack be?  I will not, of course, parade around in the buff as I did so unconcernedly when I was a mere fifty or sixty.  Which reminds me of an episode in 1978, a month before I turned fifty‑seven:
     I was stepping out of the tub when I heard my condo buzzer.  Jack, arriving early.  As he came through the large glass door facing my apartment at the end of the hall, I waved to him from my doorway and called, "I just got out of the shower.  I'll be with you in a minute."  I left the door ajar so he could walk in while I put on a robe.
Jack:  "When you first opened the door, I thought you weren't wearing anything‑‑at least that's the way it looked from the end of the hall."
Me:  "Were you wearing your glasses?"
Jack:  "Yes, thank God!"    
     In 1987, nine years later, my self‑image wasn't so sassy.  I wrote Jack about a pleasant fantasy:
     "I picture your arrival outside my door at 8:00 p.m. (with two or three months’ notice).   I am wearing something that modestly covers my aging self—a burnoose with a veil might do it‑‑and you are wearing your white shirt, blue slacks, and best sneakers.  You tell me I look beautiful by candle-light.  Jack, it works in a movie like "Same Time Next Year" but in a real‑life fragile situation?  Do thank your neighbor for his generous offer to vacate his house, so I could stay there if I ever paid a visit "
     Breck, that's how I felt two years ago.  Now even my cold feet have wrinkles. I know you have no magic potion that will release a willowy temptress trapped in a hag's carcass.  But it helps to talk to you, anyway.  
     I hope your trip was wonderful in every possible way.
     P.S.  I've just picked up Love, Sex, and Aging at the bookstore. I'll read it in Florida.  Will it teach me to accept what can't be changed?  Like my uncomplaining Kathie?  I must try harder to be more like her. 
    I'll be leaving for West Palm Beach tomorrow for a week's visit with Ed and Aliceann.  Kathie was with them earlier this month, saw the motel, tells me I'll love it.  She warned me not to get lost in the jungle around Ed's pool.  It's ten times as big as the one he created in Scituate--to the distress of ex‑wives, ladyloves, and realtors.  
April 3, 1989
En route to West Palm Beach
Dearest Breck: 
     Ed had asked me to skip dinner on this Delta flight so he and Aliceann could take me to their favorite restaurant. 
     "Uh uh," I said.  "I love having dinner on airplanes.  And I don't want to waste a perfectly good, already paid for meal."
     Ed understood.  The Depression of our youth had opposite effects on our attitudes toward money.  He couldn't spend it fast enough; I couldn't save it Scrooge-ishly enough.  An hour ago the stewardess came along with the cocktail wagon. I blew $3.00 on a Screw-driver to celebrate my first Florida vacation in four years.  
     Along came the Delta dinner cart.  As a dedicated nutrition nut, I could see that everything I never eat was on my tray. I put on my reading glasses and squinted at the ingredients circulating on the lid of the salad dressing container.  I saw salt!  Sugar!  An unpronounceable preservative starting with an x!   The salad was laced with strips of cheese.  Cholesterol!
    It was the most delicious salad I ever had in my life.  A lettuce leaf fell out of the bowl and into the pocket with the airline literature.  Waste a piece of lettuce coated with sugar and salt?  In my haste to rescue it, my wrist dipped into the frosting on my layer cake.  I lovingly scraped off the frosting and returned it to the cake. 
    I wrestled open the pat of butter.  More butter than I'd had in six months.  My cholesterol starved cells sat up and shouted hallelujah.  I started buttering the baked potato with its inviting crease down the middle.  It was stone cold.  Should I complain to the stewardess?  No.  It was not a baked potato; it was a dark rye dinner roll.  The best dinner roll I ever tasted in my life.
    Lyonnais potatoes, drowning in butter (hallelujah) were on the platter next to what looked like a filet mignon but tasted like calves liver.  It was the best filet mignon calves liver dinner I ever tasted in my life.
     With the airplane's engines keeping me company, I hummed happily from the first taste of salad to the last crumb of cake. There was nothing left except an eighth inch of cholesterol-loaded salad dressing in its little paper cup.  When the stewardess reached for my tray, I almost asked her for a doggie bag.
     I hope you're having a ball in Rome or Vienna or wherever you are, darling Breck.
April 12, 1989   Weymouth
Dearest of mentors:
     I'm glad you enjoyed my "airmail" letter.  I'll be looking forward to the one you promised later this week.  As I mentioned on the phone, I was particularly interested in Love, Sex, and Aging's positive attitude toward estrogen replacement for menopausal women -even if they have had breast cancer.   My two years without estrogen (“contraindicated," according to my doctor)  left me as creaky as the Tin Man on a rainy day.  Thank you, my friend, for urging me to reopen this subject   I did so, and Dr. Shea has been cooperating with me ever since. The creakiness disappeared promptly     
      It was gratifying to have it confirmed by your book's research that young-at-heart seniors are still experiencing the joy of sex.  I noted that, unlike yours truly, none of the respondents whined about their aging bodies.  I hereby renew my resolve to emulate my dauntless Kathie, who never whines about anything.  When I grow up I want to be just like her.
     As for GWE, it's not that I'm counting my royalties before they're cashed, but I've had fun mulling over possible dedications, such as: "To Kathie, whose arrival four years early was a very good thing." Or more formally: "To my daughter, Dr. Kathleen Malley White, 1988 Scholar/ Teacher of the year at Boston University." 
     It gives me the shivers when I consider all the things that wouldn't have happened if that first bing! hadn't arrived ahead of schedule.  Kathie and her siblings would have been different bings, even if I had later married Ed.  Yes, everything had to happen exactly as it did or I'd have missed some wonderful experiences . . . meeting you, for example.
April 13, 1989  West Cornwall
From Ed Brecher
To All of the people I love,
      I had planned to spend today writing letters to each of you; but after breakfast, when I ran through my address list and found more than a hundred of you, I reluctantly decided to settle for just this one letter to you all.
     I also considered writing individually to a smaller group of you who have done so much to make my life worth living since my third heart attack last summer.  But I’m sure you know who you are, and that you know my special feelings toward you.
     As most of you also know, I decided following Ruth Brecher’s terminal illness and death in 1966 that I would die in my own way and at a time of my own choosing. That time came following my third heart attack.  To my amazement, however, life has continued to be rewarding despite gradually and relentlessly deteriorating health and vigor. 
     This was due entirely to the warmth of the people around me, the people who came visiting and whom I visited, and those who wrote and phoned.  Bless each of you for these nine last bittersweet months; and bless those who loved me and whom I loved during all the prior decades.  Letting loose of you isn’t easy; but I decided this morning that the time had come.  
Yours, 
Edward                                
April 26, 1989    Weymouth
To Jeremy Brecher
      It is difficult to pull my thoughts together long enough to write a coherent letter.  I am stunned at the loss of my rediscovered friend, my father confessor, my generous, supportive Breck.  I am grateful for his letters, grateful to be one of the people he loved, grateful for his final sensitive, cushioning words.
     I can't argue with your father's decision.  I am in total accord with his views and have my own escape, should I be so motivated.  But I will miss Edward Brecher, his thinking processes, his wit, his warmth, the insightful emendations in his familiar hen scratchings.  God, how I will miss him!  (I think he would condone the exclamation point.) 
    With deepest sympathy. . . .
February 10, 1990   Weymouth
To my brother Dick  
    I'm quite beside myself with happiness.  First, my second book for children was accepted, and I signed a contract with Fearon Teaching Aids three weeks ago.  But that wasn't all.
    I wrote you recently about the editing help I had been getting from Edward Brecher for a memoir, tentatively called Great White Eagle.  We had completed 100 pages when Ed committed suicide just after my return from Florida last April.  He had been in failing health, was losing his eyesight, and believed in the right to exit life when it was no longer bearable.
     The best therapy for me after such a crushing loss was to immerse myself in writing.  I picked up the threads of GWE and took a chance on sending five completed chapters to Roger Donald, Ed Brecher’s former Little, Brown editor in New York.
     Weeks went by.  Finally I got through by phone to Mr. Donald and learned he had never heard of me or my book but would track it down and get back to me.
     A few days later he called and said, "I found your book and I love it."  To which I replied, as who wouldn't, "My Gawd!"  He said to give him a few weeks, as he wasn't sure how to go about publish-ing a book with such an unusual format.  A week later he called and said flatly, "I'm going to publish your book." 
     At sixty-eight years of age, I hung up the phone and leaped around my condominium like a drunkenly garrulous gazelle, crying oh wow, oh gosh, I can't believe this!  I called Kathie, but she was at a meeting, so I raved some more to the pictures on the wall and executed a few more dance steps.  I was afflicted with a serious case of euphoria.  When I finally reached Kathie at home, we rejoiced together.  I thought of Mom's poem about sadness hiding behind a wall, while joy is happily shared.
     The workbook, Rhyme Time, is slated for publication in 1991.   Grace Lawrence will again be the illustrator and will have her own separate contract with Fearon.  I won't have to pay for the illustrations, as was required when Good Apple accepted Poetry with a Purpose.
     I don't know when I'll have definite news about the Little, Brown adventure, but I'll relay it when I get it.  Such pipe dreams I'm having. . .my book made into a movie.  An appearance on the Phil Donahue show.  No, that's ridiculous.  I'm too much of a scaredy cat to even imagine such a foolish dream.  I get shaky and self-conscious if I have to make a short announcement at the golf club.  Do you suppose I'll acquire some poise by the time I'm seventy five?     Much love to you, Dixie, your daughters, and current and prospective grandchildren.
March 22, 1990   Weymouth
To my journal:
     I just brought the remaining chapters to Colleen Mohyde, the editor I'll be working with at Little, Brown's Boston branch.  She tells me she loved every word of what I had previously submitted, so I'm on tenterhooks to hear her reaction to the rest. 
     I never expected the twilight of my years to be so rapturous.  When doubts about the reality of it all creep into my mind, I can hear Mom's voice urging me to think positively. 
     I talked to my New York agent, Don Congdon, and learned he has represented authors like "Bill" Manchester, Ray  Bradbury, William Styron, Lillian Hellman, and the guy who wrote  Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.  
     Don told me this was first submitted under the title, Beyond the Birds and the Bees.  None of the editors thought this was catchy enough.  They were all sitting around a table one day when the author, Dr. David Reuben, said, “Remember when you people asked  me to describe what my book was about?  I wrote back and said it was everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask.  How would that be for a title?
     Everyone liked it except Don.  "It wouldn't fit on a movie marquee," he said, being a practical, far sighted man.  
     "Obviously, I couldn't have been more mistaken," he laughed. 
     He has unbelievable plans for my book; talked casually about Canadian rights and excerpts for magazines and maybe a movie.   When I reported this to Aliceann during my visit to Singer Island, she said:  "When they make the movie, I want to play Aliceann."
     I can't think of anyone else who could.

  ALICEANN AT TIM'S COOKOUT SUMMER 1988
March 28, 1991   Weymouth 
Dear, sweet Aliceann:
    Your phone call last night meant more to me than you can imagine.  It was as if you were psychic and wanted to reassure me.  Kathie had discussed with me the pressure you were under during my visits of the last two years.  I knew and could understand your parents' negative feelings about our friendship, but I hadn't realized your friends felt the same way about "that  woman."    
     Yesterday afternoon I told Dick, when I dropped off some tapes I'd transcribed for Kathie, that I didn't ever again want to cause you the slightest discomfort.  What with a recuperating  husband and a calendar crammed with activities, you have enough  stress without my piling on more.  
      "If I ever visit Singer Island again ," I said to Dick, "I'll stay no longer than a weekend--just long enough to autograph hundreds of copies of my book."
      Hardly had I made this resolution than I got your phone call.  It didn't change my mind about shortening any future visits but it was certainly comforting. Not that you ever made me feel unwelcome for a moment, bless your kind, generous heart.
     The most extraordinary thing was your reaction to the argument Ed and I had the day before I left.  Who in the world but Aliceann would assume the role of peacemaker between her husband and his ex-wife, insisting they kiss and make up?  Someday I'll have to write an article about my best friend, the second Mrs. Malley.  The problem is, who would believe it?   
     Give my love to our favorite husband. . . .

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