Yesterday I saw that Nora Ephron passed away at the age of 71. This morning as I watched "Morning Joe" people talked about how much she had meant to them as a person and as a writer, director, etc. As they talked I realized how important she had been to me.
She was 8 years older than me and I first discovered her writing when she wrote a column in Esquire Magazine in the 70's. I loved her right from the start. She wrote with wit and you felt like she was your best friend and older sister. The first column I read was about "Upstairs, Downstairs" - a PBS series very popular at that time. And she noticed things and it just felt like a conversation between us girls. So - in my 20's - I read her every month and felt like she understood and spoke to me. Later she put all those columns into a book called Crazy Salad which I read too.
She lived a life that perhaps I dreameed of - writing and being friends with newspaper people, politicians and writers. She married Carl Bernstein and he cheated on her and they had a messy divorce. She wrote about it in the book Heartburn which also contained recipes. I read it as I was going through and coming out of divorce. In retrospect she really was a model of how pain can be redeemed in the telling and the humor and the raw honesty of it all. I remember seeing the movie on a date - about a year after my divorce - and it was almost too raw for me at the time. But she was authentic and so talented.
Of course, I liked her movies - when Harry met sally, sleepless in seattle, you've got mail..etc, etc. But what i like the most was her writing and getting to see her on tv sometimes. The last book I read was "I Feel Bad about my Neck" which was about aging. It was, of course, witty, honest and real. My sister in law - who I love and looks beautiful with her white hair - often asks me why I don't let my hair go gray. But I paid attention to what Nora said - that is the way that most women age themselves. So in honor of Nora I will continue to keep whatever this color is that my hair is and trust that it makes me look younger :)
I have been mentored more by writers than anyone else - and often I reference the religious/psycho/ spiritual writers like Joan Chittister, Eugene Peterson, Scott Peck etc. But Nora Ephron has been a model to me for over 40 years of what it is to be a woman who is truly engaged in life.