Saturday, December 21, 2013


Cary Grant, still my favorite name to drop, said "Hate will keep you alive longer than Love will."    I could not imagine anyone's not loving Cary Grant, but he told me his own mother wanted him to dye his hair because the grey made her seem older.
My stepmother, Selma, has died at ninety-six.  My son, Robert, who called me to tell me, was surprised I was not more excited, since my father, Lew W. Davis, after a young lifetime of failure as a pharmacist in Pittsburgh, ordinariness in the army and UNRRA, shipwrecking and shipbuilding,  became the Republican Mayor of Tucson, subdividing its real estate, making a small fortune,  ("If he'd been married to your mother, Puggy, my stepfather said, "he would have been Governnor.")  Daddy, whom I have trouble of thinking by that handle, it sounds so inappropriate, left it all in Selma's keeping and benefit, which would, at her death, go to her daughter, me and then the children.  I don't know why Robert was surprised at my not being excited: I thought Selma would live forever. Her cruelty in my mind seemed unmatchable.  
       My mother, Helen, was social director at a resort in New England where Selma came with her then husband, and proceeded to cut his shirts into a hundred and twenty pieces each,  So Helen introduced her to my father, assuming she would do the same with him.  When my father didn't want to marry a woman with two children, Selma gave her son, an adolescent boy, to his father, a ne'er do well, and, I believe, an alcoholic. Her daughter, he let her keep, beating her from time to time as he'd done with my mother, though, I would venture, with less provocation, Andrea being a very nice little girl, and becoming, I think, a very nice woman.  Towards the end of his life when he had Parkinson's, and became rather frail. Selma beat my father, a truth which, when repeated the next day to me by the caregiver, got the caregiver fired.  For the rest of his life he became increasingly fragile, and when I went to see him last in the home, looked around frantically and said "Gwennie-- where's Gwennie?'  And I said "Here, Daddy."  And he said "Oh you looked so good I didn't recognize you."
     Selma and I had not spoken for the last several years-- when I called to say hello, she said she did not want to speak to me.  My friend Peggy Hitchcock, an heiress from Bryn Mawr, said "She'll fall down."  She did, but she got up again.  Somehow in these years… I don;t know… maybe because I have never thought of other than earning my own living, or maybe because of Jack, my Jewru, the remarkable man with whom I study things spiritual and struggle to evolve, I have never really hoped for or looked to an inheritance, other than the big one in the sky.
      So I, too, am gently surprised at my own lack of reaction to this news.  It really means nothing to me, other than that my children might have it easier, and Robert's children, whom I love.  But it still isn't getting my musical on, and that is the true breath of relief and joy I am waiting to let go of, exhale, inhale. It was only my own potential I hoped to fill in this life, my own gifts I yearned to realize.  I never really wished any ill to anyone, except the cruel fools who opt for war.  I am sorry that they are so well-connected they seem to have infinite sources.
   I write all this because I am used to reading obituaries of people who have accomplished something in life.  So the obit writes of their likes, their skills, their adventures, their circles of friends. Never before have I heard or focussed on an obituary of someone who has done so little to make the world a better or more interesting place. I kept waiting for Robert to read me the rest of it: what she'd done with her life.  But there wasn't anything.  And that itself, I would guess, is interesting.