Tuesday, March 14, 2006


As Emma Goldman in 'Reds'

Maureen Stapleton, who was honored with just about every award an actress can attain, died yesterday at the age of 80. This morning, as I sat drinking my coffee and reading the New York Times, I encountered her distinctive voice one final time. Right there in my own kitchen.

I love the exuberance and freedom of the way she described how she arrived in New York, determined to become an actress:

"I was seventeen years old, I weighed 180 pounds and I had a hundred bucks in my pocket. I was invincible!"

Though I never weighed 180 pounds or aspired to be an actress, I know that feeling well. Equally eloquent and telling was this deceptively simple response to her numerous successes.

"I did the best I could."

I can't imagine a more honorable epitaph.


Meanwhile, I hope no one will miss the comments in the survey on bloggers and depression below. No definitive answer has been reached--nor did I hope for one, but the responses make for rich and insightful reading.


Patry Francis said...

irina: Most lives contain both sunlight and shadow, as did Stapleton's. (Read her very candid obituaries in the New York Times or the Guardian to learn more.) Yes, we can choose to focus on the sunlight, and I believe we should, but we are dishonest if we try to pretend the darkness doesn't exist.

The word depression may be trivialized by overuse and greedy pharmaceutical companies hoping to expand their market--as some commenters to my last post astutely pointed out. But serious depression is a medical condition, not a moral choice. Many people have been helped by candidly sharing their experiences with it, or by reading others' unvarnished stories. For some, simply knowing that you're not alone, or learning how others have managed their illness, is the ultimate uplifting reading experience.

Laini Taylor said...

LOVE that quote. I'm only a little familiar with her -- but that will really stick in my mind. Also, I had missed your last post about depression, and was interested to read it -- I'm still new to blogging, but to tell you the truth seeing your post was the first time I had thought about depression at all in this forum. I've noticed creative frustration aplenty, but much more joy and humor than depression. Perhaps now that you've mentioned it, I'll start noticing it here and there, but I hope not. It's a very valid thing to talk about in this safe environment, but I hope for creative & life fulfilment in all my new friends!

Patry Francis said...

Laini, what lovely thoughts and wishes. Thank you.

P. A. Moed said...

How I'd like to say the same about my life: "I did the best I could." That would be a major triumph--to silence the inner critic in me! Thanks for this.

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Viagra Online said...

I just loved the post since the first time... I think this lady was the best, specially if we're talking about acting and performance issues. To be chaste, I love the exuberance and freedom in her style, and most of the onlookers can support my version. "I did the best I could." I'm totally unsure she did the best.