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. 

Monday, December 16, 2013


You realize what trouble we are in as a country when you see that John Boehner seems a rational Republican.  You see what trouble we are in as a world, when 60 minutes seems like a promotional lead-in for the finale of Homeland, on last night.  For all its twists and screws and dark surprises and dashed hopes and sort-of resolutions, it doesn't hold a candle or even a very small match to what is actually going on out there.
    What is strangest, or maybe not since none of us seems to know the half or smallest fraction of it, is the fact that the NSA has been forced to reveal-- the extent of the revelations also not and maybe never known-- so many of its nooked and crannied secrets, because of the revelations of our not-even-graduated from-high-schooler/cum spy, who after exposing the secrets, has taken sanctuary in the Soviet Union.  It is all on a level of invention I would defy Stephen King reborn into the skill and skull of Aldous Huxley before his spiritual awakening to invent.  I would be frightened of the future, and even the present, had I not come to my own realization that nothing we feel changes the outcome of anything, unless of course what we feel is Love.  That also probably changes nothing but our ability to deal with the fact that we have no real control over anything.
    That I have learned, better Late than Never, (a title given to one of the disastrous albeit originally clever works of my youth,) is the great lesson of Nelson Mandela, whose endless end was endlessly paraded over the past week plus.  There was no way even the thickest among us could not become aware of the man's impact on the planet, and the fact that he was given ninety-five years, including the ones that were doubtless partially wasted by his imprisonment, to make his unmistakeable point, is proof to me of the Unprovable: there has to be an Intelligence behind the Universe.  It cannot all be random, an accident, or whatever else the non-and-dis-and-unBelievers contend.
    Imagine.  Ninety-five years.  You come in, suffer, fight for what you believe, then learn to make your point peacefully, get to stay till the whole world knows what your job was, and how well you did it, and then get to leave, while still looking wonderful.  The only loss was perhaps not getting to meet Obama, but then you did have all those times with Oprah.  I don't mean to be glib, although that is what I cannot help being from time to time, and it may turn out to be one of my gifts of which I hope I will live to express all.
   But even I, the (I can't help it) wise guy was inordinately moved by the wonder of the man. And most of all, I think I have learned how he did it, and that was, on a lower level, by understanding that he was smarter than his jailers, and on a higher level, by learning to love his captors.  I am very far from the second, and really despise being held prisoner by morons, which it seems to me so many who are in charge of this once great country seem to be.  I have to remind myself that at one time when I was deeply absorbed in a study of and connection to the inner workings of our government-- Watergate, when I was doing research for a novel that turned out to be minor but seemed major at the time, a delusion I would hazard most serious writers, which I imagined myself to be, have to have to continue-- I was deeply into the idea of Reincarnation.  Don't laugh, so was the best of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, whose epitaph I unexpectedly came across in an airport in Covington, Kentucky, on my way to Cincinnati to do the Phil Donahue show.  Writ by Himself, it read, to the best of my recollection:"Here lies B.Franklin, Printer, food for worms.  But he will return, in a new and better edition, corrected and edited by The Author," that last in the unmistakable flourish of the Franklin hand.
    I couldn't imagine what that was doing on the wall in Covington, but then as imagination is Mother's Milk to me, I came to the egotistical conclusion that it was there because I was supposed to see it, since I, along with Ben, had probably been one of the Founders. That (maybe not entirely mad) concept was rife in me at the time, since I saw what trouble the country was in with Nixon, and thought maybe we were all back to get it in shape for the Bicentennial.  We may have done that, whether or not it really was US.  But what, God help us, has happened since, and what the Hell are we going to do?
   So: SUMMON, I say, YOUR INNER MANDELA.   If you are not yet highly enough evolved to love these idiots who appear to be in charge of what may remain of our future, then understand that you are probably smarter than they are, and have compassion for them.  Compassion seems to be one of the shortest suits in America, and obviously the world.  But Judgement, which we should also all be working to remove from our brainpan, most of us, me included, unsuccessfully, clearly allows us to see we are probably smarter than they are.  So if you can't make it to compassion, go ahead with Pity.  It's not as evolved as compassion, but then, it's better than guns, which those morons(forgive me, Nelson) have too much money and influence to get legislation against.