Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
born in Brooklyn, New York, died in Oxford, England
My father's study in North Haven, Ct, as it was after his death. He was ready to begin writing, with books at printed matter carefully laid out on his desk. He intended to enlarge his study which was far too small for his needs.
I drew the portrait as my father wrote in Canterbury in the 50s-60s. In 2005 I retouched the eyes, slightly but realize now that the changes, slight as they, are too are too dark. To be emended in the future.
More than three decades ago you died at Oxford. You could not go farther, although you were scheduled to speak in Edinburgh. Your heart had pained you and yet you continued to write and even drove north to your destination. But the body could no longer support you and reason and strength of character could not overcome the physiological blows that struck you. You woke once in the hospital and told your wife Beate, my mother, that you had heard the most beautiful music you had ever experienced. No, you were not a believer but the gods were readying you for the eternal or the body, as it declined, translated its attacks into a musical perceptual experience. Though the doctors tried to revive your heart, they were unable to gain ground and you slipped away. I was in Germany when this was taking place and did not learn of your death until I reached Paris. I never saw you alive after we met briefly in London, earlier in June. Always curious, always ready to entertain the new, you who had lived through so much and acccomplished so much and still had so much to do before your life ended when you were so young. Would matters have turned out differently today with medical advances. Probably. Today you would be have been frail but your mind would have been as keen as ever.
A friend of mine remembers exactly how you were in the late 1950s:
"The picture of your father writing a scholarly piece at the kitchen table in your old country place in Connecticut, untroubled by the domestic distractions around him, unburdened with works of reference, spinning it all from hi sown compact but capacious head, remains clear to me after fifty years!"
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Two seeds fell on stone, an inhospitable matrix. Still, they took and grew up side by side but did not know that the other existed. Trees are said not to see, have emotions; sentient yes, but in a different manner than the "higher" orders. Endowed with vegetative souls, they are not endowd with cognition or the passions. Over the years the two seedlings matured and nourished by the wind, the air, water, and sand and pebbles, grew to maturity. They gazed out at the ocean, felt its mighty presence, and experienced seasonal winds, their branches swaying and bending as the forces swept over and through them, but never did they recognize one another. Another case of the man who mistook his wife for a hat or was it destiny? A monument between them and the waters marked the location where they had once met as preformed beings; it was a geometric shaped boulder, box-like, as if waiting to be opened to reveal its contents. But they did not call out to it and and they could not locomote. One day Iris appeared and pulled up the boulder's lid. Behold, within was identity and friendship, words and music and images that both could understand. and finally they recognized one another. Iris metamorphosed into the plant that reappears annually. She lives beside a pool where the solid granite nurtures and feeds her, making her fruitful.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Acadia National Park, Maine consists of two parts. One is located on Mt. Desert Island the other on the mainland. In July 2009, I revisited Schoodic Point, an area of Acadia I had not seen in fifty years. The day was grey and it had rained. Few people were on the granite promontory. Though not stormy, the sea lifted up and rushed towards the massive, seemingly solid indestructible granite, sweeping in again and again. As it hurled itself against the stolid stone, it burst, exploded into the air, changing from grey, to aquamarine, to white froth and then again back to grey, devolving again into the depths, pulled away by animate Okeanos, the restless god, breathing, roiling, readying himself for the next encounter with unyielding Gaia.
Time had not altered the topography of Schoodic Point in my memory, but fifty years earlier it was hot, sunny, the sky blue. The sun's brilliance had warmed the rocks and their deep red color was vivid. Then, I visited the park with friends; we drove north from Colby College. The summer of 1959. My dear friend Tony (Anthony) Roberts and I cavorted on the great boulders, jumping on their steps, and finally coming to rest alongside one another. We listened, we looked.
And even earlier, in 1948, I had seen Schoodic Point. That summer my parents stayed in East Sullivan, Maine, where they rented rooms in a simple house. What do I remember of the building? It was a white clapboard structure, perhaps two stories high, and my room had a window seat and gauzy white curtains that ballooned like sails, as the sea air rushed into the room. That room left an indelible imprint in my memory: a sense of whiteness, freshness to be sought but never actually found again. Three summers, each memorable: 7, 17, 67. Three ages, three life experiences.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Beneath the cedar bush and among the hostas plants he sleeps and dreams of doggie tales,
ill as he may be, a survivor of digital melanoma last year, and coping with lymphoma of his mouth this year. With enormous gratitude to Dr. Howard Gittelman of New City. Were it not for his care, knowledge, and guidance, our Aesop would never have survived to still enjoy certain pleasures dogs alone can fathom.
the leaves suddenly dropped off the tree and sweetness and peace fled leaving behind a stark bare skeleton
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Nora Roberts in Canterbury, Connecticut, with my dog Schatzi, in 1956. How wonderful it would be to find Nora a true friend so many years ago.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
I would like to say with certainty that my "Omma," my maternal grandmother, was born in Czarnikau, Poland, but I do not know. How easily the facts of life are lost, especially given the dispalcements caused by WWII. Perhaps my mother did tell me, but if she did , I have forgotten. Flora--a beautiful name-- was in her early twenties when she married. Her husband, Paul Caspari, was selected by her family as a suitable match. He was twenty years older than she and an established physician in Berlin. Only when she lay dying of cancer, did she tell her daughter that she had been in love with another man, a youth her own age. My grandmother's story is not unusual; how many young women then and now also follow family dictates. Their lives are arranged by others. Flora moved to Berlin and was charged with caring for her new household. Her first child died in childbirth; her second, my mother, Beate, survived and became a physician and author. My grandmother's life was eventful; she witnessed the rise of Hitler and fled Berlin late, in 1938, after Kristalnacht. Her husband had died about a year earlier, during an operation. She stayed as long as she could, but finally made her way to the United States, where her daughter, Beate and her husband George Rosen, MD, were living. She lived together with my parents until her cancers required hospitalization in a nursing home. Do I recall my grandmother? Yes. Though I was 13 when she died, and she had been hospitalized for about a year previously, I remember vignettes, so integral was she to our home. Omma cared for my brother Paul Peter Rosen, MD, and myself when we were children. She was remarkable in her steadfastness and her love for us. I will write more about her on another occasion. I have lit the jahrzeit candle. I have not forgotten. With love from your granddaughter Susan
born 14 March, 1910, Berlin--died 8 July, 1995, Hamden, Connecticut
In 1935, my mother Beate Caspari-Rosen received her medical degree, in Berlin. Her marriage to George Rosen was fortuitous for it saved her life. Although born in America, he was not able to gain entry to an American medical school due to his Jewish heritage and his humble background. He, like so many of his City College of New York classmates applied to the famous Berlin medical school and was accepted. It was there that he met Beate (Blessed). Beate was a child of WWI, the terrible aftermath of that war in Germany, its food shortages, hyper-inflation, and street warfare in her neighborhood. To protect their only child from bullets, Beate's parents--her father was a physician-- placed her in a hallway. Deprivation and turnips were her fare. Once a modicum of order was restored she was schooled in a gymnasium, choosing a professional career: to be a physician. Not only was her father a general practitioner but other male family members were too, or specialists. She alone, among the young women in her family--a very large extended one that was largely destroyed in WWII--chose medicine. She excelled in her specialty, ophthalmology. In her various practices, almost all in public or union clinics, she served her patients with patience, authority, and great skill. She was an exemplar of the "good doctor." The elderly would tell her their woes while she carefully corrected or diagnosed their visual deficits and the young received superb care and sympathy.
The pictures I have selected show her operating on an eye; the mirthful curious child; the immigrant in 1935, in the Bronx, where she lived with her in-laws for a time, and finally a picture taken before her departure to the United States. On her passport, she visited for Czarnikow in Poland, undoubtedly knowing that she would never return and be able to see her beloved family again. The visit is stamped in her passport, which survives. Beate's mother's family had a farm and other property in that town, located about an hour from Poznan. She is seen with her grandmother. All members of the family in Poland were exterminated. The houses were looted and the property taken as well. Though my mother expressed delight about visiting Czarnkow/Czarnikau she also related stories that were traumatiizing. Local children threw rocks at her and called her a "dirty Jew." Later she learned that Jewish cemeteries had been desecrated, the cadavers and bones exhumed from their graves, and skulls used for soccer balls. She never returned. My husband, Harold Olejarz [Olarsch] and I visited Czarnkau on our way to Poznan. Our stay was shortened by thunderstorms and the necessity of traveling farther that day. Perhaps more can be learned about the town and its Jewish community from numerous resources on the web.
I will write more about my mother in a different context. For now, the pictures illustrate aspects of her life.
Note: in a "recent post" on the web, "Dr Elizabeth Fee: a historian reaching out to wider audiences."
Interview given to Hochman, G., Benchimol, J., Wegner, L., Azevedo, N., Romero Sá, M. and Martins, R. B.
História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, v. 13, n.3, p. 83-99, July-Sept. 2006, comments about my mother--and father. Dr Fee is not the author of the essay--it is a transcription of a discussion with her. For the record, my mother's name is spelled Beate NOT Beata. Beate is a not an unusual name in German, and keyrings gan be purchased at stores along with Christophers and Helmuts.