I Feel Bad about Nora Ephron
When Nora Ephron died this week I missed her as if I knew her instead the far away missing of an admired writer and director. Nora had the more intimate impact of a friend on my life rather than a celebrity.
Her novel, Heartburn is stacked with my cookbooks. The paperback covered by a heart, pierced by a devil, the smoldering aroma wafting from the caldron heating it, is worn with use. It was the first novel I read that incorporated recipes in the prose. Her best peach pie is folded into our family summer dishes and consulted so often the novel flops open to page 141. Her smashing of recipes into a story was part of the inspiration and permission I needed to pepper my novel, The Christmas Cookie Club, with cookie recipes.
Just in time, along came This is My Life, her first film, which presaged an event in my life. Not that I ever became a stand-up comedienne like the Mom in the film. But my marriage had followed the plot line of hers: my husband cheating with a colleague and I became a single mom. My daughter and I saw the film together and both recognized the wisdom of her line that goes something like: “All kids want from a Mom is her continual presence. Kids would rather have a Mom in the next room thinking about blowing her head off than in California happy as a lark.” I may be misquoting a bit. That line helped both my daughter and I joke as we struggled with the problems of a single mom trying to mother, work, and date and a kid dealing with it. We still laugh together about her movies, as many others do, because there was recognition in the situations and insight in the jokes.
Thank you, Nora, for bringing food, laughter and wisdom into my life with perfect timing.