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Remembering Nora

24 Jul

Once again I must apologize for taking so long to get back to blogging. My life has been like a twenty-four hour news show, only mine is called “All Mom, All the Time”. If you’ve read the subject of my last posting, you know that I’m taking care of my 90-year old mother, who is suddenly showing rapid deterioration in her mental and physical capabilities. The past month has been a round of emergency room visits, follow-up doctor visits, new doctor visits, tests, etc., each taking an incredible amount of time, most of it taken up in just waiting around. The good news is that she seems to be regaining a lot of her faculties; the alternate news is that I know we’ve entered the Next Phase, and it’s not going to be pretty. But (long deep breath) we seem to have stabilized for a while. Thanks to all of you who wrote so kindly about their own troubles with caring for their parents, and who so generously offered their wisdom and advice. It’s wonderful knowing that you’re out there, and that I have friends I’ve not even met.

So, that’s my update about The Situation here at home. Now – back to my blog.

During this tension filled time one of things that really hit me hard was the death of Nora Ephron. I was not a great fan of her movies, but I liked them well enough. Her books were better, I thought. In fact, one of my favorite recipes is found in “Heartburn”, and I make it frequently – Linguini all Cecca, a hot pasta dish with a cold, fresh tomato and basil sauce.
Even more than her books, I particularly loved her essays. Nora Ephron was a font of common sense, and her truest gift was in the ability to make her readers (me) believe that she was having an intimate conversation with them. In my own mind she had become one of my best friends, and it was with profound shock that I heard of her death.

I didn’t even know she was sick!

Then my friend Randy sent me an article about her star-studded memorial in New York, which was attended by Mike Nichols and Meryl Streep, among others. I was so charmed by their comments and the obvious depth and warmth of their memories of Nora that I told Randy that I wanted them at my memorial, as well, and to please arrange it. A little while later I received his reply. “I asked. They all refused.”

He’s. So. Funny.

I also felt bad that I knew no one to whom I could send a sympathy card, so I guess this blog will have to be it. I need to honor her life in some way because of what she meant to me, even from such a great distance. Fortunately, attached with the article about her memorial was a link to “Nora’s Five Favorite Books”. I read her short reviews of them and decided then to read all of them as well. What better way to honor her memory?

After recovering from the shock of NOT finding my own books on her list (what the hell kind of best friend is THAT?), I went to my local library and found all of Nora’s recommendations. One, a cookbook by Ina Garten, I decided to forego since I am foregoing eating for the summer in what will – no doubt – be a futile attempt to regain my svelte silhouette. The rest consisted of three novels and one nonfiction work:

1. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout
3. “White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga, and
4. “Bright-Sided” by Barbara Ehrenreich, the non-fiction work and the one that Nora said changed her life forever.

In a future blog I will review these books and let you know what I think of them, and what I think they say about Nora. So far I’ve finished “Gatsby” – embarrassed to acknowledge that somehow this American classic never came into my purview during my 61 years. My overall impression is that it’s exquisitely written, but one of the slightest works to have ever earned such a powerful reputation. More on this later.
Right now I’m in the middle of “Olive Kitteridge”, which I’ve wanted to read since I read its review in the NY Times. All I can say is that I’m falling in love with it and that Elizabeth Strout is perhaps in danger of becoming my new Nora. Again, more on all these books later.

In the meantime, I’m thinking of you, Nora.

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