Le Diner en Blanc New York

Le Diner en Blanc New York
Lincoln Center 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A REMARKABLE LETTER FROM A REMARKABLE WOMAN


My friend Linda Markstein gave me permission to post this letter that she wrote to a number of her friends this past Friday. A couple of weeks earlier Linda had felt so very tired that she went to her doctor. She had received a clean bill of health from him in April, but after this last visit, after taking several tests, she learned that cancer had invaded her body, including her brain. She has been in and out of the hospital since then, wrote this letter, and asked in her most recent conversation with one of our friends which political blog she should follow. I am inspired by her courage, her sense of humor, and her power. I don’t know who all the people she mentions in this letter are – I don’t think it matters. The most important thing is the woman who wrote these words.I  hope that those of you who read this and find that it speaks to you leave comments, which I can then pass on to Linda. Here is her letter:
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Hello, Everyone,

I had RAD 6 today and this morning I felt pinned to the mat.  Never so  tired in my life.  I felt an urgency to get as much memory preserved as  possible because I don't know how much will be left. So far memory seems okay but not sure how long I can write.  Fear I may  become locked in.  So I wanted to explain that I am going to record as  much as possible and get you to transcribe as you have offered.  I wanted to type everything myself first (of course:  world's fastest typist) but fear that is a luxury no longer affordabe, esp. since Lefty is weak, valient but weak.  The only realistic option is to try this new strategy.  I am going to record on, I think, an iPad.  Suzanna set it up and she'll monitor it, esp until I get used to it.  I have a crack tech team so I am hopeful.

Anyway I won't have as much time to be in contact with you and I wanted you to know that.  I have loved the messages from all over the world, esp ones involving fights about what may or may not have happened 50 or 60 years ago.  Teasing, outrageous charges.  I have many of my cousins supporting me in a disputed memory against another cousin involving whether the latter at 6 or 7 years old actually yelled out the window in Belleville, KS that my grandmother and her friend, Mrs. Welch were "god damned stupid old bitches" because they wouldn't buy him "one god damned stupid flower."  He, Billy Sherman, had his head out the back window  broadcasting this message.  Grandma pressed the electronic window  button -- and nearly decapitated Billy -- and never said another word about it.  Billy (now Bill and some sort of proper, extremely successful something or other) is trying to argue that it is the desperate ploy of a dying woman.  But everyone is on my side.  That's the power that brain damage and impending death, etc., etc. can bring.  I hold a lot of good cards right now and it is very difficult for Bill(y) to have any chance in this game.  Good bye, reputation as a pillar of haute SF society!  Ha ha ha

So anyway I am having a lot of fun.  But I don't have so much time and I have incredible weakness and, let us not be too oblique, a lot of brain damage.  So I have got a lot to do.
Yesterday I got the only good piece of advice from Brother Bill that I have ever received:  He said, "Linda, I think you should rest less and work harder."  He probably meant it as a joke -- but I chose to take his advice literally.  It is one of the few times I have not felt it necessary to simply respond, "Oh, shut up, Bill."  I just said, "I think you're right.  Thank you for sharing."

Very, very tough frightening morning because I felt pinned to the mat by exhaustion and I became worried about having enough energy left to do the stories, etc.  Didn't think I could make it to therapy, as if that were an option -- but suddenly got energy and managed just fine, well fine in the scheme of things.  That was heartening but this all was a huge wake-up call about the need to maximize time and use adapted strategies.

You must all continue to write to me constantly and send me data from the real world.  Teddy analyzes polls, breaks them down and explains them.  Love it..  Sangeeta reports from an economics conference in Mexico where she is working with someone who turned out to be Trotsky's great grand-daughter.  Dave writes about the horrors of modern parenting style, etc.  -- Esther sends a poem a day and a kind of a blog about her writing process.  So when I am not working, I can quickly get back into the world and not miss out.

Just quickly, my walking is much better and I could button some little tiny buttons today with almost no problem.  How great to be able to walk again without constantly looking for a supporting wall or handhold.  I wouldn't go out without someone because I might lurch on the street but I can walk pretty well.  Donald is impressed and probably a little jealous.  He still is not above giving me lots of pointers (from his wheelchair).

BTW, Donald and I have initiated a private time from 5 to 6.  No one can come over.  Travis and Melissa must go upstairs.  We must have our  sacred time together.  He's been wonderful.  We worked on my funeral (we like to do that sort of thing unlike most people).  He wants to recite the lytrics to Body and Soul (will be hard for him but, hey, give it a shot).  Decided to get Charles Davis to play Body and Soul and Night and Day, our theme songs.  Want a super, super high mass at St. Peter's followed by an incredible wild party on the river (Spirit Cruise) where everyone dances and drinks and kids get wild -- and everyone remembers it later as the most fun they ever had.  Do you think a permit could be gotten for a few fireworks?  How about a huge banner:  BLAST OFF, LINDA.  Since I will be cremated, no need to have the service immediately.  Maybe wait six or eight weeks so everyone can come.  Wouldn't it be a riot to send out SAVE THE DATE cards!

Well, you get the picture:  a huge opportunity to have some fun.  Don might not, probably would not, be able to take part in this (since he needs to be in bed by 8) but he would certainly not deny me my last cosmic laugh.

Mehitabel's Song (Don Marquis)

there'a a dance or two
in the old dame yet
beieve me you
there s a dance or two
before i m through
you get me pet
there s a dance or two
in the old dame yet

life s too dam funny
or me to explain
it s kicks or money
life s too dam funny
it s one day sunny
the next day rain
life s too dam funny
for me to explain

but toujours gai
is my motto kid
the devil s to pay
but toujours gai
and once in a way let s lift the lid
but toujours gai
is my motto kid

thank god i m a lady
and class will tell
you hear me sadie
thank god i m a lady
my past is shady
but wotthehell
thank god I m a lady
and class will tell

Work begins in earnest tomorrow.

P.S.  It has been announced that Armond Habiby (Anne's father, divorced some 45 years ago) is planning to fly in in a couple of weeks to see me.  I asked Anne if this is being seen as some sort of exit interview!)  He's a wonderful, completely unique person that I absolutely could not live with.  We were two strong pure elements that could not mix -- but we produced an absolutely unique, extraordinary human being.  Armond has such a dominating personality that this may be too much drama for me and I may just send him a letter.  His drama may be too much, too overwhelming.  But I am touched.  I just don't want to  lose control of the scene and become a secondary player in his big scene.  -- Still, it does add another note of outrageous drama.  Who else does this kind of thing?

but toujours gai, my friends

Linda