Wednesday, August 9, 2017


About the Blogger

Portrait by Margo Bendery

     A funny thing happened on the way to my nineties. I discovered that life was as enjoyable as ever. Although I railed against Father Time for leaning on my head and scrunching me down into a little old lady, still, the perks are many: 
  • accepting with pleasure the fact that my formerly plebeian knee-length terrycloth robe is now luxuriously ankle length
  • marveling over the miraculous arrival of 3 great-grandsons (Update 2017 5 great-grandsons and 1 great-granddaughter
  • rejoicing that their parents don’t expect me to babysit
  • driving twice a week to duplicate bridge games where partner and I seesaw between triumphant highs and ignominious lows
  • learning to my wonderment that posts on this blog are visited by hundreds of thousands in the U. S. and thousands in European countries. 
  • editing daughter Kathie’s latest textbook on war and peace 
  • dropping in on her blog,, with its sketches by Margo Bendery, our Vonnie’s childhood pal
      My deepest values are: Live and Let Live (my mother's philosophy), pro-choice, anti-bigotry, pro women's and men's liberation.  Other profundities: Darwin yes, God maybe, tea parties, no. 
      I'm getting a lot of this material from an album titled "Grandmother Remembers," given to me when my first grandchild, Teddy, was born on January 4, 1979.  The album asked, what are you most proud of?
Answers:  my first, second, third and fourth child, my first published article, my first solo, Kathie's winning tenure at BU, teaching psychology from her wheelchair after an automobile accident in 1965, my children's parenting skills, Vonnie's incredibly great letters,Ted's stepping up to raise Michael after Vonnie died in an automobile accident in 1976, Timmy's articles in National Fisherman and his helpful computer expertise, and staying friends with my ex-husband.
      Another album topic:  "Everyone thought I shouldn't, but I'm glad I. . . married young."          
      In those days you were bounced out of college if you got married (which had seemed like a neat idea to me, since I was pregnant). My mother, at first crushed, became devoted to Ed.
      Ernestine dedicated one of her books, The Story of Lengthwise, to him:  "To my son-in-law, Edward W. Malley, Jr. and his wife Barbara, under whose merry roof this story was written." 
     But who is Isha? 
     Esther Monk, who was my helper for ten years, asked five-year-old Kathie why she called her grandmother Isha.  Kathie looked surprised at the question and said, "Because that's her name."
     Yes, that was her name, all right, and now it's mine and my sister Janeth's.  The tradition started with my grandfather, Camden M. Cobern, an archaeologist and Methodist minister. When he and my grandmother had their first grandchild, my brother Richard in 1915, they chose to be called Ish and Isha, meaning man and wife, derived from the Book of Genesis.
                                 Seeking Rachmaninov  
                        When I die and pass through the pearly gates 
                         (a destination my born-again brother--bless him!--
                                   regards as fundamentally unlikely),
                            I will first seek (if I have eyes to seek with)
                             Sergei Rachmaninv in order to thank him 
                        from the bottom of my heart (wherever that is) 
                              and admire (if I have ears to hear with)
                                 whatever soul-stirring composition
                                         he is playing on his harp.    
                          And oh, how many of you I would want to hug
                    (if I had arms to hug with)—Mother, Vaughan, Vonnie,
                                Ed, my forever cherished ex-husband,
                              Floyd Rinker, Maggie, Darrell McClure, 
                                  Ed Brecher, Jack, Naomi, Moppet. . . 
                               All I ask is one hour with all my senses.
                             Surely this is not an unreasonable request.
                                      I think not . . . therefore I am.
Circa 2013  
      As weeks race by on their fast-forward track, I find myself giving serious thought to that hard-to-believe event, the end of my life.  To be, then not to be, that is the answer. Or so it seems in my semi-agnostic opinion.
     And yet, anything is possible, I suppose, in this strange, wonder-filled, unknowable universe. Even immortality. I'm confident my born-again brother will forgive me for using my God-given brain to question what will happen after said brain turns to ashes. There will either be Something or there will be Nothing.  The Something would be excitingly comprehensible.  "Oh, so that's the way it is!" I would think, awe-stricken that I was still able to think.  "Now I get it!"

      On the other hand, I see nothing to dread if there is Nothing.  Wasn't Nothing what I had been before I was conceived?  Should I look back on Nothingness-before-life as a terrifying state to be in?  I had been unaware of my Nothingness and thus unafraid.  I would also be unaware of Nothing-ness-after-death, if that is what awaits us. What's scary about that?
      Agnostics, Muslems, Jews, Buddhists, and other heretics were barred from my brother's heaven; I want no part of an ascension to an exclusive club.  The fact that I was conceived is miracle enough. But if heaven does exist, how joyfully I will greet my precious mother Ernestine and my beloved second mother, Vaughan.  And of course my sorely missed daughter Vonnie, forever thirty-one years old after the accident.  How I long to hug her again at last.  Another hug for Ted, whom we lost in the spring of 2017 to ALS disease.  And  a big hug for Ed, whom I immortalized in Take My Ex-Husband, Please--But Not Too Far. 
    "You thought you'd escaped, didn't you," I'll tease.  And he'll come back with some smart remark, out-teasing me as he always could, divorce or no divorce, heaven or no heaven.  Rarely did I ever get the last word until now.


  1. Such an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. on (1) A MAN CANNOT BE WHIPPED INTO SHAPE. NEITHER CAN A "1 replies."

    Dear Linda -- You have given this old girl (94) a heart full of joy. It has been a long time since anyone took the time to comment on my meanderings, and yours is such a lovely one! Warm greetings gratefully returned! on (1) A MAN CANNOT BE WHIPPED INTO SHAPE. NEITHER CAN A CHILD.
    in response to Such an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada., by Linda.

  2. Thank you for sharing EVERYTHING. I have such fond memories of my childhood due to you, Dear Other Mother. You made my life!

  3. And you continue to add happiness to mine, sweetheart. I've thought of a way to respond to those who say "Hi, how are you?" "Hanging in there" seems appropriate if accompanied by a smile.