May 28, 2009

Francoise died yesterday, in the afternoon. At home, surrounded by two of her three children, along with grand children and her husband, of course.

He and Francoise had been together for half a century or more, and you should have seen them in their hay day. They were perfect complements to each other. Which is one reason it was so painful for him to watch her mind disappear and at the end listen to her say, referring to her husband, "who is that man?"

She was born in Paris, was instantly tall, black-haired with a stunning beautiful smile. She grew up during the occupation, with all of its horrors, but do I remember correctly she said once that occasionally during those years she played tennis in the Bois de Boulogne? Her family were well-to-do and royalists, and although she turned away from the Church in her 20s she never quite lost her affection for the trappings of old republics, and some 19th Century prejudices. For one, she was still convinced Alfred Dreyfus was a German spy.

Hardly out of school she met and married a Swiss doctor. Not welcomed by her parents but Francoise was adventurous and stubborn. They moved to America where she had hoped to get a PhD in English literature. Her husband was the love of her life but next to him was Thomas Wolfe.

And then all these years later, after all those fabulous dinners and lunches, after so much grace and creativity. I often wished she had been my mother.... After all that she was alone in that huge stone house with her husband. Who was still one cigarette after another, and one glass of thick red wine after another. So there was some question at the end how to undo that bond between them, so that she could move on.

Toward the end, a shaman was in attendance for several days and suggested that in order to let Francoise go, it might be best if there could be some physical break between she and her husband, if she could have space to leave. And finally she got it and left.

And what happened to him? He has managed along without her. Perhaps, he is relieved. Perhaps, his own mind is enough.


May 1, 2009

I have very strange news: I received a letter from Ruth Madoff. I had no idea we knew each other, but then I remembered a girl named Ruth at Mrs. DeRam's dancing school in about 1962. Dance instruction was in waltz, fox trot, rumba, chacha, and twist. Class was held every Thursday at 5 p.m. sharp at the Colony Club, on 64th and Park Avenue. I remember Ruth as a homely girl with glasses and feet that turned in, which made her a difficult dance partner. Her mother sat in the mezzanine and watched her daughter closely. She always had a scoldful-expression and sometimes after class ran Ruth down for not showing more enthusiasm.

Why would I think that that Ruth became Ruth Madoff, who is now offering me money? Here's why. I've come to believe that life really is like living in one of those summer reading classics, like Joseph Andrews, Tristram Shandy, or of course Tom Jones; with those plots that always end up at the beginning, those characters ignored as a child, or unknown, who turn out to be your mother, father or sister. I believe in irony, that's the reason I think it's the same Ruth. Also, I had a very promising tarot chart this week; money is on the way it said.

But there was one jarring thing about this letter. After reading it I was surprised and a little disappointed. I'd imagined Ruth to be somewhat better educated. So many grammatical errors. Not to mention the fact that she didn't capitalize her married name. That makes me think she doesn't think highly of Bernard anymore. But that's psychobabble; these are hurried and stressful times and actually her dancing was not precise.

Here's the email that came to me, exactly as it appeared.....

Dear Friend ,

I am Mrs.Ruth Madoff, wife of bernard madoff.

I am actually going through some kind of difficult time with my family right now, as my husband is at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York City.

My husband Sentencing is scheduled for June 16, 2009 and he is likely to face a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison and $170 billion in restitution, so there is need for me to move out alot of my personal funds and peronal belongings around the world , particularly from outside america, but i need somebody to trust now, because i cannot receive funds here in america right now.

I would need your help in acquiring some properties and keeping some large cash amount for me. but first i would prefer to chat with you either on yahoo chat or Skype. if you are not comfortable with yahoo then write me,so we can communicate via email.

This is very urgent, i would have to entrust a large amount of money into your hands and some personal valueables. But this would have to be very confidential, just between me and you, because the press are afetr me and my husband name all over the headlines, because of his Wall street business.

Anyway! don't be scared about the risk, it is a very safe deal i can assure you of your condidentiality.

Yours Sincerely
Mrs. Ruth Alpern Madoff
Email Contact:

I wrote back a very warm reply, pretended to know something of her life since dance class. I said I would do anything to help her and mentioned some friends of mine, from Nigeria, who are always willing to buy or sell hot properties. I added that I was married and as long as I didn't have to get involved with her romantically I hoped we could become friends and maybe business partners.