So today is the day that Donnie left the planet, my sweet, funny husband who put up with everything I did to aggravate him, and rejoiced in and reinforced everything I was and did that he was proud of. I write this not to make anyone sad, as I am of the conviction that there is no sorrow for the one who goes, only a hole in the heart for the ones left behind. But the hole has healed, and is planted with merry memories, as it should be, as the good part, the only part that matters, is that we connected for the time we did, and that is a blessing, as my sometimes religious friend Hal says, before he becomes cynical.
Don was one of the loving people who dips down to touch the earth from time to time, like a hummingbird, and for my sins, or lack of them, he touched on me. I found a note he wrote me on my birthday in 1981, saying "Gwen: Shut up! Say thanks! Happy Birthday, Happy Mother's Day, Love Don & Co." That, for those of you who don't know me well, was because I talk too much. He would turn to me from time to time and say "Are you still talking?" and that would make me laugh, and register my own foolishness, the greatest gift I was ever given. He checked out 22 years ago today, which seems hard for me to believe, but how time flies when you're not having a good time, or when you are having one on occasion, which today clearly is.
I had made a lunch date with a new not-quite friend, who called me ten minutes into being late and said she hadn't felt well and had fallen asleep longer than she intended, which turned out to be fine, as I realized I was supposed to have lunch with Don. It was in an Italian restaurant, which was appropriate, as he came from that part of the Bronx where Jews and Italians were indistinguishable, and had his chance to join the Mafia, which he declined, but could still talk knowledgeably with Mario Puzo. He was a defender of the weak-- a man was hitting a dwarf(hright challenged we would have to say now) on a barstool in a pub where we had a date early on in the courtship, and Don went over and dedked the guy who was punching up the dwarf) and he put my mother out in the hall like a cat when she was awful to me. When he was producing a children's show at WOR-TV, Columbia pictures was touring Elsa the lioness from 'Born Free,' the lioness broke loose from her trainer, the trainer got his leg caught in a collapsible chair, and Elsa pinned three screaming children. The director, and the crew all ran inside the control booth, locking themselves into safety. Don went over to the lioness, and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck(no main) and held her till the children could roll free and the trainer loosed himself from the chair and get back control of the lion.
Then he came home and told me about it, turned chalk-white, and fainted. That's who he was: a man who saved children from lions, and only afterwards, realizing what he had done, was afraid. Bennett Korn, who was the president of WOR at the time, sent him a memo
RE: The Wonderama Lion Incident
and then congratulated him on his bravery. Robert, our son, has the memo. I hope he understands, or will understand at some point, who and what his father was.
I certainly do. We had a nice lunch together, with Bresaola, arugula, and shaved Parmesan cheese in the sunlight.