Excerpt 13: Default to Goodness

The psychiatrist, who treated Nancy in her final year,  asked me:

“How did you ever survive?”

(Well, that is what this book is about, isn’t it?)


“All art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

My mother’s wedding night was a threesome:  My mother, father, and Joe,  an Episcopal priest, who was my father’s favorite lover. They were in Fairhope, Alabama, an artsy town on the Gulf.

No family members attended.

It was 1949.

My mother told me this when I was twelve years old. We were having dinner at Britling’s, the local cafeteria, in Memphis. I really liked their shredded carrots with raisins.



For French author Madame de Girardin:

“To love one who loves you, to admire one who admires you, in a word, to be the idol of one’s idol, is exceeding the limit of human joy; it is stealing fire from heaven.”

That perfectly describes what I am looking for!

The search continues…

Excerpt 12: Default to Goodness

As I’ve grown older, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet women of all ages who experienced traumatic abandonment during childhood. They have come from Nepal and Sicily, Vietnam and China, Mississippi and Arkansas, New York and Maine. Our emotions are the same.

We are all so similar: fiercely independent, exceptionally responsible, sophisticated about money matters, always well-organized, and obsessively private. We seek order out of chaos. A strong sense of self-mastery is longed for, above all else…all in a determined and deeply heartfelt effort to feel safe.


“… wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.”
Gabriel García Márquez (Love in the Time of Cholera)

Excerpt 11: Default to Goodness


My husband was dying from Lewy Body disease (think Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s combined). (Robin Williams made the right decision when given the same diagnosis.)

He was in a nursing home.

As he lay stretched out on the hospital bed, I gently caressed his forehead and forearm.

His last words to me before death:

“Stop petting me like a fucking dog.”