Saturday, March 31, 2012

Madeline Kahn, Gilda Radner

On my bike ride today two extraordinarily talented women appeared in my rolling daydream. I remembered that they had both died of ovarian cancer...and then I remembered my reaction to the news of their deaths at the time. I distinctly remember saying, "but they were wealthy celebrities. They had access to the best medical care. How could this have happened?"

I loved Madeline Kahn, especially in "Young Frankenstein," from which Peg and I have quoted freely and frequently over the past 26 years. "The taffeta, darling, the taffeta..." Wonderfully talented comedian and singer. She was 57, the same age Peg is now, when she passed in 1999.

Gilda Radner's illness was somewhat similar to Peggy's; diagnosed, treated, in remission, CA-125 numbers looked good... then it came back. She was 42.

Peg and I talked tonight about the "undone" stuff. She was going to have her wedding ring melted down so she could have a cooler one made from the gold. Was going to see New Zealand after she went into remission the first time. Could have done some fun art classes with her friend Marjorie in Denver, back in the 80's. 

No matter how long any of us live, there will always be things left undone. Places not visited. Things left unsaid. Loose ends.

Peg has made a difference in the world. Many of her former patients have come back from the darkest places to have fulfilling lives today because Peg was so very smart, intuitive, caring and skilled in her work. For the rest of us, our lives are richer for the love, wisdom and wickedly delicious humor she's brought to each of us.  The "undone" stuff is just imaginary. The gifts Peg will leave behind for each of us are real.


nancy said...

meditation. for some realization is a means, not an end. their emphasis is on the act of living. they use the word longevity, not because they want to live forever, but because it symbolizes determination to live the entire course of their lives well.

Sarah Geist said...

As someone not actively physically in your lives, I am a testament to Peg's actively remaining in my heart and thus my life for 32ish years with
a very strong presence. You're right Eric, her life has brought such richness in ways no one knows. I am
grateful for that.
My love to you all. Susan

Lori.creasey said...

...Along the lines of humor that Peg has brought into my life, I have to recount a few episodes! My memories of your stop-offs in Huntington Beach on your way down to beach camp still bring smiles. Do you remember the time I gave Peggy a pretend Rorschach test? Or my favorite -- the time my sons were meeting my new man, John, for the first time, and you all sat out by the pool while I was cooking. Peg asked if John had met my "3rd son" who was in a biker gang, but was probably still in prison, and you all built upon that story, leaving poor John ready to flee (unbeknownst to me) before I finished cooking the shish-kebabs! Great times, all!

Unknown said...

My sister died, of breast cancer, 3weeks ago. The feeling of helplessness as treatment failed and she became more and more sick was dreadful. It's hard to accept that, even with the very best possible care, this disease takes wonderful people from us, too soon.

Like Sarah, I haven't been physically involved in your lives for a long time, but still carry strong, fond memories of Peggy, my residency office mate. The warmth, gentleness, and love came through so strongly from the first time we met. When she introduced us all to her new guy, Eric, it soon became clear you were made for each other: wacky, fearless, and making the most of every day. ( Who can forget the pyramid wedding cake?)

I'd like to be there, to see and talk to Peg, to hug her once more. Eric, would you please give her one extra hug for me? And thank you so much for these posts. With love, Roberta