137 posts categorized "Timeline"




[c.1990] Patrick died of complications from AIDS on 13 July 1993. I miss him every day and I talk with him still, usually when I’m in the shower. Sometimes I can almost hear him answer - advising me, loving me unconditionally, reminding me for the zillionth time how important it is to laugh at myself.


av_producer @ 2003-11-25 said:
Great photo and a powerful memory.

In the mid-80’s when I was working for a theater producer, every week it seemed someone would cough, go home and few weeks later be dead. Awful. Just awful. Over and over again.

pellegrini @ 2003-11-25 said:
What a portrait and what an impressing and touching story behind!

ribena @ 2003-11-25 said:
I have been here, watching and absorbing.

trst2 @ 2003-11-25 said:
Why is the life like this?

reporter @ 2003-11-26 said:
I’m sorry about Patrick and appreciate his love for you. His love is eternal for you.

A Patrick Postcard



[1988] Long before we all used email, Patrick snailmailed short, funny missives to his friends by postcard – whatever struck his fancy at the moment, something he knew would make one particular friend or another laugh.


reporter @ 2003-11-24 said:
Friends come and go but one thing in our heart is always there.

einstein2 @ 2003-11-24 said:
Another great slice of life : - )

pellegrini @ 2003-11-24 said:
I would like to express the same like einstein2!

zinetv @ 2003-11-25 said:
I miss the surprises that could come in the mailbox. Now its the inbox. BTW, I haven’t seen Gertrude and Alice in very long while.

Patrick Declaiming



[c.1980s] Patrick could make me laugh no matter what. After he moved to Los Angeles, we spoke on the phone several times a week - back when it cost real money to do so. When we had finished eviscerating current political stupidities, we would cackle maniacally and say together, “Yeah, and when we are king of the world…”


pellegrini @ 2003-11-23 said:
Nice protrait!

reporter @ 2003-11-23 said:
You have kind friends.

williambernthal @ 2003-11-25 said:
Bandshell, Central Park? Thanks for introducing us to good old Patrick.

Ronni and Patrick



[1988] Patrick, who I met in 1968, when he was at Fordham University, was one of a miniscule number of people who are born old souls, wise from youth beyond their years and beyond the times they live in. My bestest, bestest friend forever and always, Patrick had the ability, after patiently letting me rattle on, to cut through my tangle of useless detail to the heart of my latest problem. His kindness and understanding knew no bounds.


virgorama @ 2003-11-22 said:
It’s great to have that ease with friends. Can’t synthesise it really - you speak in the past tense…

reporter @ 2003-11-22 said:
Wonderful and interesting.

av_producer @ 2003-11-22 said:
What a great, infectious smile. And a double bestest, wow.

gaiyang45 @ 2003-11-22 said:
You look quite enraptured to be in Patrick’s company.

smith @ 2003-11-22 said:
What an absolute treasure to have a friend like that. You both look totally happy.

Stepbrother Joe



[c. 1990] Following Mom’s death, my stepbrother Joe, who had helped so much during Mom's final months, spent another few weeks with me in Sacramento helping some more as we closed the apartment, arranged the memorial dinner and for the ceremony to scatter Mom’s ashes at sea.

Joe telephoned after I had been home in New York for about two weeks. He had had trouble writing a letter, he said, and wanted to tell me “in person” that he was HIV-positive. I asked why he hadn’t told me in Sacramento. He had not wanted to burden me further, he said, while my mother was dying.

Joe visited me in New York in the fall of 1992. It was his first visit to the city and he fell in the love with it as I had when I arrived 25 years eariler. He walked uptown and downtown, east side, west side, all around the town. And my favorite building, the Chrysler Building, became his favorite too. He promised to return in winter because he wanted to see Greenwich Village, he said, in the snow.


Newspaper Clipping Found in Mom’s Wallet

I was sitting with Mom when she died in the early afternoon of 27 April 1992. She was 75 years old. I washed her body and dressed her and lit a candle and sat with her and Joe and her best friend Barbara for four or five hours before telephoning the authorities.

A friend once suggested to me that dying is the last, great lesson a parent teaches a child. If that is so, I will have much to live up to when my time comes. But in my case there was an additional, greater gift.

Mom, in her last months, taught me about my own goodness. I discovered depths of caring and compassion while caring for her that I had no idea I was capable of. Oddly, I was the happiest I had ever been, those months in Sacramento. Not lighthearted, but feeling useful and needed. Mom died as she wanted and in helping her do that, I was more comfortable with myself than I had ever been.


trst2 @ 2003-11-20 said:
I’m at work, had just my lunch and now I am sitting in front of the computer drinking coffee and looking and reading fotolog: Your words go straight into my mind.

bandman @ 2003-11-20 said:
What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Not what you say about her but what she must have taught you over the years that gave rise to your compassion and caring. That doesn’t come without the groundwork being laid from early on.

Compassion is a gift that is triggered through receiving it first.

av_producer @ 2003-11-20 said:
You know I knew this was coming. And still today as I pulled this up and I started to read, I clicked away, I didn’t want to know, I didn’t want to believe it.

I came back, after some thought, to say good-bye Mom. And as we know that nothing disappears from the Web, in a small way she will be with all of us forever.

jkh_22 @ 2003-11-20 said:
I’m touched by your experience and your ability to write about it so well...death feeding the cycle of life, and the infinite exchange of care between mother and child within that cycle.

artofgold @ 2003-11-20 said:
Ronni, I’ve been captivated by your log since finding the link via AV’s log a few months ago. I’ve resisted leaving a comment as I think I’ve just been overwhelmed with the history and emotions contained within your log. I thank you for sharing all of these moments.

I am glad you had closure with your mother, it sounds like you’ve learned valuable lessons from her. This is a beautiful tribute to her as it proves she’s taught you well.

Again, thanks for sharing, Sunny

zinetv @ 2003-11-20 said:
This is truly beautiful.

storyville @ 2003-11-20 said:

hamlet @ 2003-11-20 said:
Take care, Ronni.

sckelly @ 2003-11-20 said:
Ronni, we read these same words at my Granny’s funeral. She loved this poem. I have the whole thing if you don’t...

helene @ 2003-11-26 said:
I’ve been looking through parts of your fotolog and reading the strong words accompanying the pictures of your loved ones. I can understand the feelings from taking care of your mom as she was passing away and really giving back what you once got from her as you needed her caring to survive. Strong!! Thanks for sharing!

Mom at Age 18



[1934] One night, Mom called for me so frequently, I’d not slept for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. Every cell in my body ached for rest as I heard her call yet again. I considered not moving, not answering. Mom had probably only misplaced something among the bed clothes again, and who would know but she and me if I ignored her.

Exhausted and mightily resentful, I plastered on a fake smile as I dragged myself toward her room. Then, something I can only call magical happened. As I walked into Mom’s room my phony smile, with no effort or intention, became real, my pain and weariness evaporated and I felt genuine pleasure at being able to help Mom in this most extreme circumstance anyone ever faces. I can take no credit for the change; it arrived unbidden, an unearned grace.

I sat on a low stool by Mom’s bed that night and we talked for a long time, an hour or two. Not about anything important. No summings up. No grand philosophies about life and death. Just stuff.


ibanda @ 2003-11-18 said:
I know of course the death of any parent is difficult, but somehow I feel your Mom’s death hit you harder than you expected. I wish I had had the chance to talk as you did - just stuff...

mrsdeen @ 2003-11-18 said:
Thank you for sharing this deeply personal moment with us. It makes me reflect on my father’s death last year and shed some tears over what we didn’t get to share in those final moments...

pellegrini @ 2003-11-18 said:
I love those very old pictures really too much!

grimp @ 2003-11-20 said:
Old pictures are like treasures to unearth. They are wonderful.

Mom and Joe



[10 July 1986] My stepbrother Joe, who had retired from the Navy and was living in San Francisco, joined me in Sacramento about five days a week, and I could not have cared for Mom during her final months without him.

When she became bedridden, Joe could lift her so I could change the linen. He was a terrific cook. He took out the trash without being asked. He even folded laundry. Together we ran the house and cared for Mom as though we had been doing such things together all our lives, and I came to love him deeply.


av_producer @ 2003-11-17 said:
Real life testing. Who talks. Who steps up. Who walks away. Joe passed the test.

shutter451 @ 2003-11-17 said:
I took the test 18 years ago with my dad, six years ago with mom. I’ve always been pretty good with tests, like the SATs. And my wife thinks I could whoop ass on Jeopardy. But these are the tests we don’t choose to take. They’re the ones you can’t cram for. There are no Cliff Notes to help you through the last moments of your parents’ lives. I stuck around; I hope I passed.

Mom and Ronni



[10 July 1986] When Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1992, I asked if she wanted me to go to Sacramento to be with her. She answered, “Oh, yes, please,” with more emotion than she had ever revealed to me. She wanted to die at home, she said, and she wanted me there.

I was then editorial director of The Whoopi Goldberg Show working in New York while the show was produced in Burbank. The production company had no email yet, but with a computer, phone, fax and Fedex, I was able to oversee my New York staff from Sacramento while I cared for Mom, and I don’t believe anyone in the Burbank office ever knew I’d left New York.


arto @ 2003-11-16 said:
Wonderful that you could do that for her.

virgorama @ 2003-11-16 said:
Wow. At some point I will have to face this with my ma..

shutter451 @ 2003-11-16 said:
Hello Ronni. Thanks much for your visits and very kind comments. I’ve been following your log for some time now, with great interest. I have been resisting the temptation to leave one of those cryptic notes that people sometimes leave for the sake of leaving them ("Hey, cool log!" or "You really KNEW John Lennon and Yoko?"). Your log is deep in its personal history and emotion, and has affected me in ways that are not easily summed up. That we are reasonably close in age and have witnessed much of the same history since the 1960s, probably has a lot to do with it. Nevertheless, I am captivated.

einstein @ 2003-11-16 said:
Well, I agree with shutter451, ronni - your log is so emotive sometimes it’s hard to know what to say - thanks for sharing all these moments.

bandman @ 2003-11-16 said:
What a beautiful and touching story. Having that kind of closure with a parent is becoming so rare with families spread all over the country.

Mom 1916



In January 1992, Mom was diagnosed with liver cancer. Her doctor explained her options with great care and kindness, but the bottom line was that she had maybe three or four months to live. Mom sat in silence for a long time when Dr. Hunt finished speaking, then she looked him in the eye: "Are you telling me, she said, that I shouldn’t buy any green bananas?"

And they both laughed. I had no idea until the doctor told me this story that my mother was both that sensitive and that funny.


zinetv @ 2003-11-15 said:
With this combination of picture and caption, you have captured the human cycle. From alpha to omega, from beginning to end it’s all about living the space in between. Your log and this page are really all about the human cycle and how we live it.

Unless the cycle ends suddenly, this page serves as a reminder that we all face this news at some future time. I hope we all face it with your mother’s attitude.

colorstalker @ 2003-11-16 said:
You really do have a gift for the telling anecdote. I know there’s a lifetime of training behind this as well, but in your log the stories don’t feel professional - more as though they spring from your need to tell them. Many are very moving. Thank you.

Ronni with the Woodpile



[January 1992] The 1990 census reported that seven homes in New York City still heated with wood. Well, they didn’t ask me, and I’m here to correct that count upward by one. Besides being expensive, electric heat in my apartment fails to help much when the temperature falls below 35F degrees, so I use an amazingly efficient wood-burning stove during the coldest months of the year.


smith @ 2003-11-14 said:
I heat with wood in a small house in rural Pennsylvania, but never imagined anyone in the Village doing this anymore (beyond someone wealthy with a fireplace and a bar in the East Village). Begs the questions, where do get your wood? How many cords do you use a year? Amazing story!

einstein @ 2003-11-14 said:
Do you know the other seven?

bandman @ 2003-11-14 said:
Ah ha! Now I know where the tree in my back yard went! Did you at least remember to give the squirrels 24 hours notice before you cut it down?

zinetv @ 2003-11-15 said:
You heat your apartment with wood!!!!! You feed birds to your cat!!!! Did anyone mention that you live in New York and not New Hampshire???? Just kidding. If I had a fireplace I would burn wood in the winter.

trst2 @ 2003-11-15 said:
You look like the woman I would want to talk to...

yolima @ 2003-11-15 said:
Wow Ronni, what an impressive woodstack you have there in your back yard. When I lived in the Berkshires, in the mid and late seventies, all the houses I lived in had woodburning stoves. I just loved that smell!

Beau Bennett in the Sun



[1991] Like many of his breed, Beau had terrible (and expensive) dental problems. Even though he moaned from the pain when he ate ice cream, he knew a Haagen Dazs container from 50 paces and demanded his portion. Over time, he became accustomed, if his food had been in the refrigerator, to my bringing it up to room temperature in the microwave. When Beau brought home birds he had caught, he dropped them on the counter in front of the microwave, stared intently at me and stamped his front feet, seeming to ask that the birds be warmed up for him.


kobayashi @ 2003-11-13 said:
Oh, please warm the birds for him.

zinetv @ 2003-11-13 said:
You feed your cat birds?!? I can’t get my guys to eat a store bought diet without a weekly food strike.

And birds - after a short time they will demand I catch them myself.

hillspan @ 2003-11-13 said:
I love it when they get all squinty.

arto @ 2003-11-14 said:
He does look like he had a mind of his own.




[1991] Sandee taught me that you can change history. When we were first getting to know one another, exchanging life stories during one of those rambling, half-drunken nights that stretch into the early hours of the next day, I summed up my romantic life as I had always believed it - a failure because all my relationships had ended.

Sandee firmly objected. She saw them all as wildly romantic and exciting. After considering her point of view for awhile, I decided to adopt it as my own. She’s right, I see now, and I’ve been blessed with knowing splendidly interesting men.


virgorama @ 2003-11-12 said:
Yes, it’s not so much the facts, but how one perceives them

bandman @ 2003-11-12 said:
I just discovered your site. Your friend Sandee has wisdom and is able to put a different perspective on issues than you apparently did back when.

Ronni at the Laundry



[1991] If you look at the micro instead of the macro, New York is not such a big city. Mostly, it is a collection of hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny neighborhoods that are as much small towns unto themselves as places like Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. The laundry on my block is owned by the “mayor” of our street and this is where everyone stops by to keep up with the neighborhood gossip and goings-on.


av_producer @ 2003-11-11 said:
I thought you were standing in front of one of those children`s height charts - I see that you have grown to 18 lbs tall. If you could it would be fun to get the sound that is made when a large bag of laundry is dropped on the scale!

zinetv @ 2003-11-11 said:
Is that 8:30 am or pm? As far micro and macro neighborhoods, that is really function of transient inhabitants. The longer people stay in an area the more they demand from their neighborhood in terms of services and amenities.

williambernthal @ 2003-11-22 said:
Sometimes I think New York is the last refuge of small-town America.

The Rooftops of Paris



[1989] This was the view from the apartment of my friend Joyce who lived in Paris for six months while she was researching a book. Bernard, the real person on whom the play and movie M. Butterfly were based, brought a case of wine for the party and we watched the fireworks from here during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Eiffel Tower. I might – I only said “might” – trade my Greenwich Village ground floor for a view such as this.


av_producer @ 2003-11-10 said:
I have only known a few spots (probably my own fault for not finding more) that would make me want to trade anything NY for somewhere else. Rome, anywhere, anyplace, any time but preferably near the Banco Santo Spirito. Paris on any spot where at dusk you can see the lights on the Tower begin the dance of illumination.

greeny @ 2003-11-10 said:
I concur with both you and Av P. What, pray tell, would one do without an around-the-corner option of the Vanguard?? Impressed, however, with such a distinguised guest as Bernard.

zinetv @ 2003-11-11 said:
Six months is all I could take living in Paris. I love the city, but after awhile, and I do like the French, but that’s the thing - they are French. Six months at a clip is about my limit.

Ali McGraw and Ronni



[1989] After leaving The Barbara Walters Specials in 1988, I found myself producing a Lifetime cable show for awhile with interviews done by Matt Lauer and Ali McGraw.

Ali and I had never met before, but felt like old chums anyway because when she and Jim (remember Jim?) had worked together on the TV miniseries Winds of War throughout eastern Europe, she’d had to listen to Jim carry on about me while I read about Ali and Jim’s sight-seeing tours in his daily letters to me.


zinetv @ 2003-11-09 said:
Right Jim, the man who, according to the picture, was working undercover in eastern Europe.

einstein @ 2003-11-09 said:
wow - ali mcgraw - wow

einstein @ 2003-11-09 16:55 said:
Not irony - adolescent fantasy : - )

jungalero @ 2003-11-09 said:
You look like old friends here.

Paul and Lili



[1989] When we were kids, my brother had a cocker spaniel named Taffy. He felt about her the way he looks here with Lili when she was a brand new puppy. During her later years when she became diabetic, arthritic and blind, Paul kept Lili with him 24 hours a day – at work, home, the boat, everywhere. Lili died in 2003, but oh, how she once loved to chase seagulls on the beach.


boogers @ 2003-11-08 said:
Hi Ronni. That’s a sweet story about Lili.

grantbw @ 2003-11-08 said:
Taffy must have been the in-fashion name for cocker spaniels when those of us of a certain age were young. My family had one too - with a most unfortunate affinity for skunks.




[any year] Neither of my parents had brothers or sisters, so I have no aunts, uncles or cousins. At its highest, the family people-inventory totaled seven, including me. I am still surprised sometimes at holidays with Neil and Donna, at the high number of immediate family – and every one of them brings dessert.


cristi @ 2003-11-05 said:
Wow that is what I call LOTS of food.

einstein @ 2003-11-05 said:
Yummy : - )

alwayslookaround @ 2003-11-07 said:
Yum, yum, yum!

jungalero @ 2003-11-09 said:
There was a year at Christmas when we had this many pies. My mom made my father a plate with a sliver of each, so he had all these little pieces lined around the plate like some sort of food clock. I’d love to dig that slide out one of my next visits home.

Neil and His Family



[c.2002] In front, Donna and Neil. In back, the kids: Heather, Neil John, and Autumn.

Years ago, Donna was nervous about taking the kids on the subway when they visited me in New York. Once, after I convinced her it was convenient and safe, the subway door opened at 42nd Street and we saw a platform awash in massive amounts of blood, crime scene tape, cops, blood, blood, blood, blood and blood. We stared but not one of us said a word, not even Donna. And since then she takes the subway like a native.


av_producer @ 2003-11-03 said:
Sometimes I think back on dangerous NY as the good ol` days…

storyville @ 2003-11-04 said:
Fascinating stuff, Ronni.

zinetv @ 2003-11-05 said:
Good for Donna, some people would have thanked you for an interesting time and never returned. Today, with Disney running Times Square, you would be lucky if you saw spilled toon ink at the subway station.

strobe_hearted @ 2003-11-06 said:
What a story! Loved it.

colorstalker @ 2003-11-09 said:
What great stories. I love your log.

jungalero @ 2003-11-09 said:
Great story. I admire Donna a lot for her behavior.

Neil and Ronni



[November 1988] This is the year I met Neil and his family. They live in a tiny town in Pennsylvania with the best funny name of a place I have actually visited: Shickshinny. When Neil is buying something on the telephone and his town name gives the customer service person fits, he says, “Oh, come on, you’ve heard of Shickshinny - it’s right across the river from Mocanaqua.”

Neil is also the friend who build my special trapezoidal sideboard.


gaiyang45 @ 2003-11-02 said:
Those NE town names are priceless.

history @ 2003-11-02 said:
I know where Shickshinny is. It’s not that funny; I’m from Womelsdorf, went to Tulpehocken Elementary...

einstein @ 2003-11-02 said:
And over here [in Scotland] we have Auchtermuchty, Lesmahagow, Pittenweem…

ibanda @ 2003-11-03 said:
And near where I was born we have Quaking Houses and Pity Me...