She sent me books, two a year, one for my birthday and one for Christmas, signed in her tidy handwriting, throughout my childhood and adolescence. I still have them all.
She was a librarian, a research librarian. She seemed to know everything, and if she didn’t know it, she could find it out for you.
She was head of the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Library on Long Island. She dedicated her life to that library and its community, and she was named a New York State Woman of Distinction for doing so.
She showed me New York City, as a kid and as a college student. When my brother and I were young, she showed us the architectural canyons of Manhattan, Radio City Music Hall, the Statue of Liberty from the Circle Line. When I was in college and obsessed with medieval history, she ran me into the Metropolitan Museum of Art so I could see the Unicorn Tapestries.
She was an Irish dynamo, small, dark-haired, bustling, organized and organizing, holding everything and everyone together.
She was a dear friend of my mom’s from college. Not a “blood relative”, but so much closer to me than many of the people I could claim as relatives.
I stayed with her and her gentle, ailing mother once as I was passing through New York on my way back to Germany. We ate dinner at the River Cafe, and as we sat there under the Brooklyn Bridge and peered at the glittering Manhattan skyline, I told her I had fallen in love with an Irish boy.
I last saw her in London several years ago. She finally got to meet my Irish boy, and we all went for lunch at the marvelous Mandarin Oriental. It was a sunny day, the restaurant was washed in light.
I spoke to her on the phone last year. Jeremy and I were in Brooklyn, she was in the hospital. She wasn’t taking visitors, but she was happy to hear from me, and I was happy to hear her voice, as vigorous and New York as ever.
I sent her flowers last week, because I didn’t know what else to do. I sent a note and told her I loved her and that Jeremy and I were thinking about her.