Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens Is Dead At 62...

This is not a tribute to Christopher Hitchens.  Undoubtedtly, there shall be many.  I certainly was an admirer of Hitchens the writer, the journalist, the wit, the commentator, the patient fighting esophageal cancer, and the man who lived life on his own terms.   His death most struck a chord  in me when I think about Christopher Hitchens the father of three adult children.

My own father Danny was a brilliant man, a man of integrity who stood his ground, a very funny man, a loyal, generous friend, and a very brave man.   He fought lung cancer with courage and on his own terms, and he died on February 1, 1991 at age 59.  But what he most wanted to be remembered for was that he was a family man.  He too was the father of three adult children.  Like Hitchens, Danny Lynch was known for his smoking and for his drinking.

I had just turned 28 shortly before our last Christmas together.   Although life with an alcoholic parent is a constant high wire act with no net, my father had stopped drinking and smoking in March 1990, several months before his cancer diagnosis.  The last year of his life was bittersweet because he once again became the very sweet man and father I had remembered before the drinking consumed his life.  The anger which goes hand in hand with alcoholism was rarely on display.  How deeply beautiful it was for our family and for him.  How terribly sad that our family life was wracked with the constant horror, sorrow and anxiety which alcoholism brings to those who love an alcoholic.  Tomorrow I shall turn 49, and I wish my father were alive as a healthy 80-year-old man.

So, to those of you who believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I offer this cautionary advice.  A life spent drinking, accompanied as it often is with smoking, will not allow a person to live to a truly happy life.  I guarantee that such a life will bring misery to the person and to the people who love him or her.  My admiration for my father, and for Christopher Hitchens, and for what they achieved in their lives, is not diminished.  I do not "blame" either man for getting cancer; that is an abhorrent thought, and a cruel act.  Yet, I cannot but wonder how much more time and happiness each man would have had, how much more each would have accomplished, if each had not spent his life with a drink and a cigarette constantly in hand.

Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Some of My Best Friends Died From AIDS"

"World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988."

Most people my age and older have lovers, friends and family members who have died from AIDS since it first made its grim appearance in this country in the early 1980's. There have been far too many.  I am going to tell you about my friend Raymond Bongiovanni.

In the autumn of 1990, as my father was dying from terminal lung cancer, a colleague suggested I apply for a position as a book scout with a film producer's office.  I landed 3 interviews.  The first didn't go well at all, and in the second they wanted someone more "seasoned."  The third...well, I really didn't know how it went.  The guy was a bit inscrutable.   He clearly was brilliant, well-read, but offered that he had been "forced" by well-intentioned friends to take the promotion to Vice President of the New York office.  He explained the perimeters of the job clearly.  I did my best to convince him that I was and always had been a very hard worker who produced results.  When I made a follow-up call to see if he had received a package of my writing samples, he seemed kind of pissed off that he had had to go to the mailroom himself to get it.  This was November, and I was losing hope.  Then he called me, and asked me if I wanted the job, second position in a two-person office.  Did I ever!  I was thrilled, partly because I would be working for a film producer's office which had a deal with Warner Bros..

My first day on the job was November 7, 1990.  Wearing my best business suit, I arrived at the office at 11:00 a.m. per my new boss's request.  (Having worked in book publishing since June 1984, I was amazed that I didn't have to be there at 9:00 on the dot!)  However, he wasn't there.  I sat at my new desk, and began arranging my office supplies.  I was happy, and excited, and my window had a perfect view of St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Near noon, as I was sorting through paper clips, an attractive but rather imperious woman dressed in a black Armani pants suit barged in and demanded to know--in rapid fire order--how I got the job, why had he hired me over 40 other candidates, what was my background....  Luckily my new boss walked in as her operatic diatribe was heading for the crescendo.  Raymond, who was about six feet tall,  was wearing black jeans, a black sweatshirt, and black sneakers.  He asked me to come into his office, introduced me to the woman--our intern--in passing, closed the door in her face, told me she asked a lot of questions but to ignore her, and sat down on his office sofa.  With a serious look on his face, Raymond said, "Okay, first order of business."  I felt nervous, and inept, because I should have brought in a pad and pen.  Raymond continued.  "Do you like Chinese food?  We need lunch!  And we have expense accounts!"  Then he smiled for the first time.  Raymond had a big, boyish smile, and his eyes shined with a glint of mischief.  Over the course of the next 17-months, I learned that he had a tremendous capacity to enjoy life.  He loved movies more than anyone I knew, and his knowledge of  film literature, and classical music was encyclopedic.  Raymond introduced me to his favorite composer, Dmitri Shostakovich.  (Raymond graduated from Harvard, and had majored in Russian and Russian literature.)  He managed stress and pressure on the job better than anyone I have ever met.  He took his work seriously because Raymond truly did want to find--and often did--the best book for screen adaptation.

It wasn't that he and I couldn't obtain good manuscripts at Warner Bros..  But our higher-ups in Burbank really didn't take our choices too seriously.  There would be loud and angry phone calls to Raymond.  "Why didn't we get BLAH?  Kopelson just bought it!"  Raymond, ever zen, would reply calmly that we had sent them BLAH, with several follow-up memos and phone calls months before.  He could never win those arguments.  The Burbank office was the ultimate history revisionist.  I would get stressed out, hearing these calls, and worrying that I could have done more, we could have done more.  Raymond, however, was nonplussed.  One day, over our lunch of Italian meatball heroes, I said, "How can you stay so calm, especially when they yell and have tantrums?"  Raymond finished chewing, took a sip of his ever-present can of Coca-Cola (original Coke, not Diet Coke, never Diet Coke).  He said, "My life view is that nothing matters."  Huh!?  I was stunned, and said, "But everything matters!"  He just laughed, and shook his head.  It's not as if he were years and years older than me.  Raymond was born in November 1954, me December 1962.  He was an excellent boss, a clear manager, but more so, being with Raymond every day was like having Yoda for an older brother.

Oh, and he really was like an older brother.  My father died on February 1, 1991, and, 3 months into the job, I had to take over a week off, leaving him to run the office solo.  Two months later, when I came back from taking an editor out to lunch, Raymond came out of his office and told me gently that my mother had phoned.  Her younger sister, my Aunt Elizabeth, my favorite aunt, had died.  He opened his arms, and held me while I cried.  Raymond was gentle and sweet.

What I have tried to put out of my mind about the special time I worked for and with Raymond is that some of our fellow book scouts were constantly speculating on his sexual orientation.  They would ask me, and I would say, "Why don't you ask him yourself?"  Burbank had decided that Raymond was gay, and they were homophobic.  I knew that but never acknowledged it.  When Raymond became ill--although he did not specify with what--and was out for all of August 1991, I managed to keep up the pretension that he was out of the office with meetings.  The three-hour time difference between New York and Burbank helped quite a lot.  I have integrity, but I'm fiercely protective of those I love.  Besides, August is a huge vacation month in New York and in Burbank.  However, the Producer did buy a book which I had obtained during that month, and the President of Production made sure to rub it in Raymond's face after Labor Day.  Then, a year after I began working for him, Raymond became extremely ill with Hepatitis C.  He told me that he thought he contracted it from eating bad seafood.  I knew that could happen with Hepatitis A (you can contract it by eating food prepared by infected food handlers), but I certainly didn't correct him.  Raymond had his right to privacy, and he maintained his privacy.  He was able to return to work in January 1992, and we carried on business as usual.

In early March 1992 I took my first trip to Los Angeles, on my own dime.  I had had a few job offers, and I wanted to meet the Producer in Burbank.  The Producer was very welcoming, a hearty older man who gave me a bear hug, and told me I was doing a great job.  The President of Production was a prick.  Always had been and always will be.  He yelled at me when I "took a meeting" with him.  He wanted to know exactly what was going on in the office in New York, what was HAPPENING with Raymond.  I said a lot of different things about Raymond, all of it positive, but told P-of-P nothing, which enraged him.  When I got back to New York, I warned Raymond that P-of-P  (Prick-of-Pricks) had it in for him.  Raymond remained unperturbed.  When the Producer phoned me directly a few weeks later, and asked me if I could do "at least 60% of Raymond's job," I managed to squeak out, "Yes!"  Then the Producer asked me to put Raymond on the phone.  I put the Producer on hold.  The doors between our offices were always open, and I told Raymond what had just transpired.  I listened while Raymond was fired.  He then patched the Producer back to me, and I was offered Raymond's job.  The P-of-P then called and congratulated me on my new title, but said I would remain at my current salary.  I told him I knew what VP's made, and that's what I would be getting paid.  P-of-P, apoplectic as ever, said, "Well, then we'll hire someone else."  I was no longer quivering.  I told P-of-P to run that by the Producer, and do so.  P-of-P called me back to say, "You are one tough little negotiator.  Title and salary increase are yours."  Fuck you, P-of-P.  This isn't how I wanted a promotion.  I walked into Raymond's office.  He was fine with it all, even relieved.  Within a short while, Raymond landed the VP job at mega-producer Scott Rudin's New York office, easily the best job for a high-caliber book scout.  Raymond just LOVED this, and he deserved it, and they were so lucky to have him.  He ensured that The Firm by John Grisham, Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo, and, later at Fox, Fight Club by Chuck Pahalniuk all were adapted it and made it to The Silver Screen.

Raymond died from AIDS June 5, 1996.  He was 41-years-old.  His obituary in The New York Times stated, "The cause was a blood infection."  I wept profusely loudly at his memorial service which was held at the Village East Cinema.  There were rows and rows of gay men in attendance, and some of them just looked at me, shocked that after all those years, all those deaths, someone would bawl at an AIDS memorial.  But, you see, it wasn't just another AIDS memorial to me.  I had lost my beloved friend Raymond.  He died from AIDS.

"In My Life" - Bette Midler official video

Friday, September 16, 2011

Marking Progress

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”   ~Thomas Alva Edison

When I was a schoolgirl, then college student, I looked forward to September with great anticipation because it meant that I could go back to school--and learn!  Most of my summers were spent sitting under trees, in the shade, reading book after book after book.   (I also developed an early fixation with school supplies which evolved into an obsession with office supplies, but that's another story.)  I never minded getting homework, and I was the eager beaver raising my hand to answer questions.  My grades were excellent--despite a year of a 70s educational experiment called "self-taught geometry"--and standardized tests never bothered me.  While some friends felt bored, confined or frustrated by the classroom, I felt stimulated, free and encouraged.  School officially ended when I was awarded by B.A.  in May 1984, and began my first job (in book publishing) in June 1984.  There have been a few continuing education classes here and there, but I never went on to get a graduate degree, and I regret that.  However, life has provided me with many learning opportunities and many tests which I never expected to have to pass.  (Nor was the chance to study for those tests offered.)  

My desire to learn has grown, not lessened, with the years.  Firmly planted in middle-age, I have lived long enough to realize that I probably won't learn any new languages or musical instruments.    Yet, I was blessed with an affinity for language, and managed to attain a level of fluency in French, German and Italian.  With a bit (okay, quite a lot) of practice, I might be able to speak one or all of these languages again.  Another gift, given to me by my parents and my DNA, is my musical ability.  I began studying classical guitar at age 9.  Eventually I learned a lot of folk music, enough to accompany myself while singing.  At age 15 I started playing the violin, and did well enough hold the rank of first chair, second violin section of my university orchestra in my senior year.  Two years ago I studied traditional Irish fiddle for 4 months, and I was good at it!  Now I'm thinking of taking voice lessons.

I won't ever be able to practice yoga, due to the negligence of a personal trainer in 2001 and four subsequent major back surgeries which fused parts of my spine and both sides of my sacroiliac.  But since I finally conquered my addiction to smoking, I can go back to the one sport at which I excelled as a child--swimming!  And, thankfully, I can walk.  If walking  had not become my sole source of physical exercise, I never would have discovered my personal treasured parts of Central Park.  

When Labor Day came this year, the familiar buzz of "time for something new" started bouncing around in me.  There are joys to summer, but they are all to fleeting, and I am a hothouse flower who needs air conditioning and plenty of sunscreen  to survive.  I think the best part of being enrolled in the School of Life is that I can choose my own curriculum.  Someone reminded me today that how you spend your time is how you spend your life.  I'm still eager to be the best possible student, but I'm also the professor and the president of Me U.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daniel B. Lynch (August 14, 1931 - February 1, 1991)

     I have my father’s eyes.  They are hazel-green with long, black eyelashes.  My father was a very handsome man, “Black Irish,” with jet black hair, those green eyes, and fair skin.  Although I was born with red hair, a genetic gift from Daddy’s mother, Helen nee McDonald Lynch, I also have his very full head of hair, its texture fine but wavy and curly.  I was my parent’s first child, and felt utterly adored all through my early childhood.  Often, Daddy would pick me up and dance us around while he sang, “Your Daddy’s Little Girl.”  While Mommy prepared dinner, I would sit on the side stoop steps of our white brick house in Bayside Hills, Queens, restless with excitement, anticipating his arrival home from work.  As soon as I caught a glimpse of him walking down the street toward home, I would run my little legs as fast as I could to the edge of the property.  He would scoop me up in his arms, and I hugged him with all my might, breathing in his scent, a mixture of Salem cigarettes, perspiration, and Afta, an aftershave from Mennen.   What joy it was to be reunited with him after a day apart!
     My father was a very funny man, and he teased me with jokes like, “How much do you charge to haunt a house?”  He gave me several nicknames, “Sarah Bernhardt,” (for my sometimes melodramatic and sensitive nature), “Miss Know-It-All” (since I loved to share whatever I had learned that day with him),   and “The Loudmouth Kid.”  Unlike some adults, my parents loved to hear me talk and chatter.  A child knows when an adult is mean-spirited, and I understood that Daddy dubbed me with these monikers from affection and tenderness.  It’s a very Irish, and Irish-American way to use “double-speak,” i.e. you say something which to outsiders might be interpreted as the opposite of its true meaning.  Such communication developed over centuries of oppression in Ireland, when the Irish never knew who was listening to any plans of uprising.  I know this because my father bestowed me with his love of history.  Early in his career, Daddy was a CPA, and he worked so hard during tax season that he would get home long after I had been put to bed.  I would crawl out of bed, tip-toe into the living room, and find him watching movies on The Late Late Show.  I crawled on the couch, sat down, and ask him to put his head in my lap so that I could massage his head.  There are many reasons I love film, but this early association of finding comfort, escape and relaxation while watching a movie is seminal for me.  My love for The Great American Songbook was bequeathed by Daddy.  He had this Bell & Howell reel to reel 4 track tape player, and loved putting on Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and, his favorite, Tony Bennett.  I can see him in our living room, cigarette in one hand, singing along to “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
     I learned to love the water and the beach because Daddy, who grew up swimming in Jamaica Bay in the 1930s and 1940s.  Our family took trips to Jones Beach in the evenings, and vacations to Hampton Bays, where he would get up early to dig up clams at low tide.  He was so delighted that I loved to swim, and that I swam well.  When I joined the CYO swim team, Daddy took me to every one of our meets.  By then, I had a younger sister and a younger brother, so that was our time together.  When we returned home in the cold winter nights, he would make each of us a root beer float.  I never got tired of seeing him deftly take one scoop of vanilla ice cream and drop it gently into the soda.  Like magic, the concoction would fizzle and pop.  Everything does taste better when it’s made with love.
     As I grew older, my father and I had a relationship fraught with tension, misunderstanding and anger.  He had a high pressure job.  He drank.  While we didn’t know enough at the time, he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his combat experience and being wounded in Korea on August 14, 1951, his 20th birthday.  He and I shared similar personality traits, being extroverted, humorous, conscientious, compassionate, and, man alive, stubborn.  There were fights, there were tears, but there also was his pride in me, and so much laughter.  I knew he loved me, and he knew I loved him.  I always knew that he would do anything to protect me, and would rather suffer the torments of hell himself to spare me any pain.
     When my father died on February 1, 1991, 20 years ago, he hadn’t had a drink in nearly a year.  He stopped before his cancer diagnosis, as if having a premonition that he hadn’t much time to share with us.  His last year on earth was bittersweet, sad and beautiful.  His courage in fighting lung cancer was inspiring.  While his diagnosis was terminal, he insisted on undergoing chemotherapy, and he never once complained.  He actually would make the staff at the oncologist’s office laugh.  His pulmonologist, Dr. Kellerman, wrote a letter to my mother after Daddy died, and spoke of his great admiration for my father, how much of an impact he had made on everyone at the doctors’ office, and that it had been an honor to have been Danny Lynch’s doctor.  At his wake, the funeral director had to open up an extra room to hold all the people who had come to say goodbye to Daddy.
     There’s no way I can sum up my father’s life here, or impart all the reasons he was so lovable albeit so damaged.  He was a good man with enormous integrity, he was a brilliant thinker, a mentor, a true friend, and a friend to all who knew him.  He was the life of the party, an American success story, a great provider, and an adoring husband and father.  He was my Daddy, forever 59, not turning 80 tomorrow.  But, as they say, “the dead are always with us.”   I still know he loves me.   I now carry my Daddy in my heart, and I shall…always.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My July 4, 2011 Ponderances

I truly believe in a quote which is attributed to Voltaire, the great philosopher of the French Enlightenment:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I am a New Yorker.  Born in the borough of Queens and raised in a community which was a bastion of Democrats, I was raised on tales of FDR--who "held the country together through the worst you could imagine," said my uncle, and of Mayor William O'Dwyer, an immigrant from County Mayo, Ireland, who was the 100th Mayor of New York City, from January 1, 1946 to August 31, 1950. (Of course, the good people of Queens failed to mention that O'Dwyer resigned due to a police corruption scandal, and took a quick appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, thanks to President Harry Truman.)  My family was Irish-Catholic, and, in my grandparents' living room, there were two photos above the television set:  The Pope and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  There was only one man I knew who was a Republican--my father Danny.

My father served in the U.S. Army during The Korean War.  He was drafted in 1950, and hit in the left leg with shrapnel on August 14, 1951, his 20th birthday.  I can't help but reflect on how 6 years prior, as a 14-year-old boy in Richmond Hill, Queens, he was out all night with his family and neighbors celebrating the end of World War II.  Daddy refused to let the MASH surgeons amputate his leg, and so he recovered in VA hospitals all over the U.S.--but far from Queens, NY--until October 1953.  His Commander-in-Chief when he was discharged was President Ike Eisenhower.  Truman, he thought, had let all the boys (and the girls, those pretty nurses) down in Korea.  But Ike, hell, he had been Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII.  The "D" in "D-Day" stood for Dwight, as far as Daddy was concerned (and there were lots of folks who felt the same way).

My father reclaimed his life in the fall of 1953.  Less than half of returning veterans from Korea took advantage of the G.I. Bill, receiving $110.00 a month from the U.S. government to pay for tuition, fees, books, and living expenses.  He and my Uncle Jimmy (who served in the U.S. Navy during Korea, thanks to a tip from my father, his older brother) shared a bunk bed in my Grandma's apartment until Uncle Jimmy moved out to marry Aunt Diane in 1954.  My father hustled.  He worked during the day, attended Pace College (now Pace University) during the evening, studied and got straight A's, and still managed to have a fantastic social life.  "I don't think he ever slept," my Uncle Jimmy told me.  And when he did sleep, my father had terrible nightmares when he would scream out loud in the darkness until his brother told him that everything was okay, and he--Danny--was home.  My father continued along, working hard at--and achieving--the American Dream.  He earned his BBA, then his CPA, then his MBA.  He married a beautiful woman, they bought a house, and had 3 children.  Then his career really took off when he was hired by a major oil company--one which he had audited when he worked for the IRS.  My father scared the crap out of them, and they wanted to keep their "enemies" closer.

By 1972, he and my mother moved the five of us (we three children) to the affluent suburb of Manhasset, NY.  Goodbye bastion of Democrats.  Hello bulwark of Republicans.  The new war, The Vietnam War, had been raging for years in Southeast Asia.  I watched the war, and the protesters, on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.  I couldn't understand how President Nixon could allow it to continue.  Then Nixon resigned August 8, 1974.  I was 11, and I knew that this was "A Major Moment in American History."  Vice President Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the United States.  "We" didn't win the war in Vietnam; the U.S. ended its involvement when North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam.   I was in 7th grade, and I decided I was going to be a Democrat.

When Carter lost to Reagan after serving only one term, I was 17, and one month shy of voting age.  It was my freshman year at Wesleyan University, a veritable citadel of liberalism, and I joined in the "Communal Moan" held at Andrus Field.   However, I remember telling off classmates, telling them how disrespecful they were, when some kids cheered at the news of Hinckley's attempt on the President's life on March 21, 1981.  I voted against "The Gipper" in 1984.  I voted against George 41 in 1988.  Man, were those Clinton elections sweet--even if there were some shameful moments during our 42nd President's two terms.  And I'm not talking about any sexual peccadillo either.  Why couldn't the U.S. prevent the genocides in Bosnia, and in Rwanda?

I cannot even address George 43's two terms.  The wounds are too fresh and deep, and the war rages on and on.  President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is currently in the Oval Office.  Our President receives so very little respect and so much disapproval from so many Americans, even by some who voted him into The White House in November 2008.  We were so joyous, so hopeful and we anticipated a much better country.  However, the house of cards carefully constructed under 43's Administration came crashing down.  "Inside Job" is right.  Our economy crashed and burned, and it is taking a long time to recover.  Sometimes it seems as if improvement and change cannot come quickly enough, or may never come.  These are times when I favor another quote, one attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas:

"Act as though ye have faith and faith will be given to you."

I listen to those who dissent with President Obama.  I defend their First Amendment right to free speech.  I myself do not wholly approve of every decision President Obama has made, but I do know that he has more than earned the respect of the American people.  Although the problems with which he--and we--have to contend seem insurmountable, I have enough optimism, and informed opinions, to believe that life in our country is and will continue to improve.  Maybe I am a wide-eyed, bleeding heart liberal.  But this is my country too, and I am so proud to be a citizen of the United States.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Patty

My mother just phoned with terrible news: my 53-year-old cousin Patty died suddenly. Her 11-year-old son found her on the hallway floor of their condo when he woke up this morning.

Patty was my oldest female cousin on my father’s side. As a child, I followed her around at family parties like a puppy. She was very kind, and didn’t mind spending time with her younger cousin. When I was 9, her brother John tried to put a newt on my head at a barbeque at their home on Long Island. Patty told him to stop, and invited me up to her room, and it was a real teenager’s room! In fact, it looked like Laurie Partridge’s room. I thought Patty was prettier than Susan Dey because she had long, silky blonde hair. We sat on her bed and looked at Tiger Beat. She didn’t even mind when I accidently spilled some soda on her latest issue of Seventeen Magazine. I idolized her.

After she graduated from high school in 1975, Patty moved out to California to take a job working with stuff called “microcomputers.” At a family reunion on Easter 1976, I saw her again. She was even more beautiful than I remembered. Patty was 5’8 and very slim. She had on these high-waisted jeans with wide, flared legs, and a rose-colored peasant blouse. The men in our family were ribbing Patty about being a “career woman.” “She’s like Mary Tyler Moore!” I thought. When we had a chance to slip away to her room and speak privately, Patty told me she worked in marketing. Although I read a lot of books, I didn’t really understand what marketing was at age 13. I listened really hard when she spoke about some weird language she learned called BASIC. Actually, I was more interested in hearing about how she loved to “boogie” at discos. I asked her how she was able to dance in the platform heels she wore. She laughed, and said it was easy, and she could show me. Patty put on the LP “Disco Baby” on the stereo, and started doing a line dance called The Hustle. Patty told me to get on my feet and she would teach me how to do this too. Oh, I was in heaven! When we collapsed on her bed, giggling, Patty whispered to me, “I think you would look bitchin’ in platform shoes!”

Patty came East again for Grandma’s funeral in 1982. I was 19, a sophomore in college, and thought I knew everything. When she came over to hug me, I was stiff. After all, I was a grown woman now. Patty, then 24, never had “bothered” to get a college degree. The fact that she was a complete success in the rapidly growing personal computer industry eluded me. I overheard one relative say that Patty’s brief marriage broke up because she worked too much. She seemed kind of sad and pathetic to me. What a smug and stupid little bitch I was.

By the late 1990s, Patty wanted more from life than a career. She was in her early 40s. While Patty was dating some guy, she got pregnant. The guy didn’t stick around. She looked so beautiful when her son was born in 2000. I never saw her look happier. She was a devoted mother, and she really did glow when she spoke about her kid. Ultimately, Patty was the kind of woman I always admired. She was brave, intelligent, strong, kind and loving. I’m old enough to know now how very brief her life was.