|Of course I'll look her up first|
This TT is inspired by Carly Simon’s song about her late mother, “Like a River,” where she wonders if Mom is enjoying the afterlife, “dancing with Ben Franklin on the face of the moon.” Isn’t that a lovely thought? Instead of waltzing with history’s most famous men on the face of the moon, I’d like to celebrate my arrival in Heaven by having a celestial tea party with some of its most famous women.
My guest list includes First Ladies, writers, movie stars, an aviator and a princess.
1. Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I’d like her to share how she handled all that with her dignity, strength and integrity in tact.
2. Lady Bird Johnson. A woman of means and intellect, she worked tirelessly toward building LBJ’s career. Yet she lived nearly 35 years after his death. What was that like? Her husband was gone, her children were grown, the spotlight had moved on … Was it lonely, or peaceful?
3. Eleanor Roosevelt. She received so much ridicule during her lifetime! She was ugly. She didn’t know her place. Her voice was grating. Yet today she inspires people all over the country – from friends who have her quotes pinned to their office bulletin boards all the way to Hillary Clinton. She even has her own statue at the FDR Memorial. Do the respect and adulation she receives now, posthumously, help assuage the hurts she endured in life?
4. Mary Lincoln. She once said that she did “the wrong things well.” As she’s watched women’s roles change, century by century, does she wish she lived in a later generation? She certainly would have had an easier time. But then she would not have been right there, with her truly great husband, during a critical time in history.
5. Elizabeth Edwards. I have mentioned many times that Elizabeth Edwards' first book, Saving Graces, had an enormous and very real impact on my life. She looked at life, love and loss with searing, unsparing honesty, and inspired me to find "solace and strength from friends and strangers," to accept help from those who love me. She was a brave lady, indeed, and I'd like to thank her.
6. Nora Ephron. Playwright, screenwriter, essayist, and cook. I began reading her in Esquire when I was still in high school and she taught me through her writing and by her example. She's the big sister I think I deserved. I’d just like to express my gratitude for the entertainment I have enjoyed and the thoughts she provoked. And let her make me laugh again.
7. Louisa May Alcott. She gave us the March sisters, thereby influencing every woman I know. Shouldn’t that have been enough? No, she was a suffragette and the first woman to vote in Concord, MA. She was an abolitionist who hid a slave in her home. All this, and she died at the tender age of 55.
8. Nancy Dickerson. Before Katie Couric, before Barbara Walters, there was Nancy Dickerson. She was the only woman I remember seeing on the news when I was a little girl in the 1960s. I used to look forward to her appearances because she was so rare – like the okapi at our local zoo. She covered Washington for NBC and got real stories, not fluff pieces about food or fashion. What was it like to be one of the first chicks in the boys’ club?
9. Marilyn Monroe. Her celluloid image is joyous, fuzzy and funny. Her personal life has become a tragic cautionary tale. How could one woman embody two such divergent personae? What was she really like? And do Madonna’s and Anna Nicole Smith’s lame imitations annoy her as much as they do me?
10. Katharine Hepburn. One of a kind. Not simply the first, but the only. The Great Kate. I might be too intimidated to speak to her. But that’s OK, I might not have to. She used to joke that she was her favorite subject, that she found herself endlessly fascinating. I – and much of the world – agree.
11. Amelia Earhart. WHAT HAPPENED? Was it an accident, or did you stage it to escape your marriage? Were you a spy? Did you enjoy an idyllic life on an island for decades? (I hope so). C’mon, spill it. It’s OK, it’s just us girls.
12. Princess Diana. I don’t know why she touches me so, she just does. I’d find it comforting to see that she’s happy and at peace. Besides, if I’m going to have tea in Heaven, I want a royal there.
13. Anne George. It would probably amuse this soft-spoken little lady to be included among these firebrands and fashion plates. Ms. George wrote the charming Southern Sisters mystery novels. Her style was engaging and real. She gave us a pair of sixty-something heroines – Mouse and Aunt Sister – who loved their families, their pets, the South, solving crimes … oh, yeah, and one another. (Even though they bickered about a certain Shirley Temple doll at least once per book.) She only wrote 8 of these slim, adorable volumes, and I’d like her to enchant me with just one more Southern Sisters story.