Memorial Information

Dear Friends and Followers of Annie’s blog,

Annie’s memorial has been planned for Thursday, September 10th at 5:30pm. It will be held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, located at Central Park West and 64th Street. For directions, click this link: http://www.nysec.org/directions

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ann’s memory may be made to Sponsors for Educational Opportunity and Goddard Riverside Community Center.

With appreciation,

Annie’s Family

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Obituaries

Dear Friends and Followers of Annie’s Blog,

Below are links to the obituaries published by the NY Times, LA Times, and Washington Post, as well as tributes to her on the Scholastic website. You may also like to visit her website, http://www.AnnMcGovern.com.

New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/12/books/ann-mcgovern-author-is-dead-at-85-she-made-stone-soup-a-school-staple.html

LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-ann-mcgovern-20150813-story.html

Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/ann-mcgovern-author-of-stone-soup-and-other-childrens-books-dies-at-85/2015/08/12/50682d6c-40fe-11e5-846d-02792f854297_story.html

Scholastic:

http://oomscholasticblog.com/post/obituary-ann-mcgovern-childrens-author-and-editor-and-member-scholastic-family

http://bookboxdaily.scholastic.com/2015/08/12/remembering-ann-mcgovern/

Goodbye, Annie

Dear friends and followers of Annie’s blog,

We wanted to share with you that Annie peacefully passed away this morning at 2:30am, surrounded by family. Her death was very gentle, exactly the way she wanted to go.

You are invited to share thoughts or memories of Annie in the blog comments below.

The family is planning a memorial for September, and will post the details when they become known.

With love and appreciation for your friendship with Annie,

Ann McGovern Scheiner’s Family

An Update on Annie

Dear friends and followers of Annie’s blog,

Hello everyone, this is Alison, Annie’s assistant. I’m writing to give you an update on Annie. She’s surrounded by family at home and is comfortable and she is sleeping most of the time. Annie is no longer checking email or blog comments, but I am printing them out and reading them to her, so she is receiving your messages.

Lots of warm wishes,

Alison

Goodbye

Since the journey has become difficult I have chosen the option of “no eating and drinking” to have closure on my beautiful, rich, life. All of my family are here, including my grandchildren, and Ollie the cat. P1070228 I have no regrets and my heart is filled with love for my family, my friends, and my blog readers. It’s been a pleasure writing to all of you. I am wishing you a wonderful life as I am ending mine, and going into BLISS.

Big Changes

So much has happened since last I wrote.

I’ve entered a new phase — and I am slowly getting to know the stranger who now occupies my body which has turned weaker, with numbing hands and mouth and legs that feel like wooden posts, and more fatigue.  I live in the moment, as always. And the moments are mostly good.

I have hospice care now and have met my nurse, my social worker, and my spiritual counselor. Wonderful Dr. Leipzig will still be my doctor. My plan is to never have to go to a hospital but be surrounded by those I love — and there are many!

Thankfully, I am comfortable at home and there are the special days — a drive to Beacon, NY for the Strawberry Festival and great Pete Seeger folk songs. Yummy strawberry smoothie.

This past weekend, I visited good friends at Amagansett and was wheeled in a wheel chair with huge tires on the sand to the stormy sea — ah the sea. So many memories scuba diving with Marty and family.

I also live in moments past, where my memory is much better than now. My family comes. Jill and Charlie moved in, from East Timor. Next week, granddaughter Sharon comes from Oakland, followed by Peter and Jeanne from Oregon. They are my comfort, love, and help, as is Alison, my brilliant assistant of 7 years.

I have a cat as of yesterday!!! He is a very large 6-year old male I named Oliver Sacks, Ollie for short. He weighs 18 pounds, too heavy for me to pick up. My great friend, Jeanne Golly is his legal owner. She adopted him from a shelter in Sharon, CT, and went through miles of paperwork and roads to get him to me. She will own him when I die. My apartment house does not allow pets; my soul does.

Ollie exploring his new home.

Ollie exploring his new home.

I have canceled my family trip this August — a Viking longboat on the Rhine River. Instead, all 12 of the family will come to NYC for a wonderful holiday, at least two weeks. All couches and beds and air mattresses will be used — all sorts of food and play and hanging out  — and love — the only medicine I welcome with every fiber of my being.

Many thanks for staying in touch. I love your comments. Annie

85 Years Young!

Dearies,

Wow! What a family! To celebrate my 85th birthday, 4 kids and spouses and grand kids came to NYC from near (122nd St) and far (East Timor, Tortola, Oregon, California).

They rented my favorite venue: Poets House in Battery Park. Everything was kept a deep secret from me except the date. They made the invitations, planned the theme of Alice and Mad Hatter, made literally hundreds of paper flowers and decorations, ordered the HUGE cake, planned the menu. Everyone wore hats, most of them home-made, and they produced a book of writings from the party-goers, a book of my blogs all together, and a scrapbook album. There were about 85 guests.

Because I wasn’t feeling physically great, I sat on a couch all night and the guests took turns sitting next to me.

In the last months, I had been loosely planning my memorial  — gathering photos, poems, etc. and putting them in a file called “Afterwards.” After the party was over I realized that in many ways, the party WAS my memorial and I had a front and center seat — a blessing! People wrote songs and said so many beautiful words about me that I began to feel embarrassed by the attention. Everything was printed in the book that my daughter Annie designed and I read it every day — especially since the PET scan I had following the party showed a progression of the cancer. A slow growth everywhere.

And here are party-time pictures!

Daughter-in-love Sybil with son, Jim

Daughter-in-love Sybil with son, Jim

Annie and Annie!

Me and Ralph in the Panama hat we actually got in Panama!

Chris the graduate.

Me and my wonderful assistant, Alison, wearing her handmade teacup hat.

Me and son Peter in his zoot suit and red nose.

Me and son Peter in his zoot suit and red nose.

Hope and me admiring the book Annie had made of all my blog posts.

Hope and me admiring the book Annie had made of all my blog posts.

Peter videoing guests singing the song Mort and Judith wrote for me.

Peter videoing guests singing the song Mort and Judith wrote for me.

The huge birthday cake!

The huge birthday cake!

Judy Blume and me.

Judy Blume and me.

The whole family! Top row from left to right: Daughter-in-love Jill, Grandson Dennis, Future Granddaughter-in-love Marian, Grandson Chris, Granddaughter Sharon, Daughter-in-Love Sybil, Daughter-in-Love Jeanne, Son-in-Love John. Bottom row from left to right: Son Peter, Me, Son Charlie, Daughter Annie, Son Jim

The whole family!
Top row from left to right: Daughter-in-love Jill, Grandson Dennis, Future Granddaughter-in-love Marian, Grandson Chris, Granddaughter Sharon, Daughter-in-Love Sybil, Daughter-in-Love Jeanne, Son-in-Love John.
Bottom row from left to right: Son Peter, Me, Son Charlie, Daughter Annie, Son Jim

Home From Paris

Paris is still within me, breathing history, window shopping, art, Place des Voges, getting lost and found, architecture, food, ambling, champagne at 6€ a glass.

Loved people watching from outdoor cafes, sipping champagne.

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Friend Hope and I had 8 cloudless, sunny, warm days in my favorite city. New amazements: Musée Picasso now re-opened. The art is shown beautifully.

Hope looking at a Picasso sculpture

Hope looking at a Picasso sculpture

The new Frank Gehry building that houses the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum is a technical and artistic marvel. We spent hours there.

Frank Gehry

And of course, saw all the old favorites. The Musée d’Orsay had a special exhibition of one of my favorite artists: Bonnard. The Grand Palais had Velázquez.

All museums had wheelchairs. I wheeled myself when Hope got tired. The French were more attentive than New Yorkers, taking great care of a woman with a purple cane.

Our hotel in the Marais district had old-world charm (translation: small rooms) and up-to-date technology (translation: wifi worked in lobby only.)

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Self portrait in hotel mirror

The staff couldn’t have been more helpful. They charted bus routes, made dinner reservations and helped connect to Wifi.

My favorite resource, though, was my American poet/photographer friend, Margo, who lived just five minutes away.

IMG_0133She speaks French fluently, knows everything, and recommended only the best affordable restaurants. Beautiful white roses from Margo welcomed us to our room. She enhanced our time.

Because the Marais has a Jewish quarter, we were noisily reminded of the Charlie Hebdo attack last January. Across the street, sirens shrieked as fire trucks left the firehouse often to prowl the area and soldier-boys carried lethal weapons. Police cars cruised the neighborhood. Despite this, most of the streets in the Marais were quiet and endlessly fascinating and fruit blossoms and flowers bloomed everywhere.

My two favorite arrondissements are the Marais in the 4th and the 6th on the Left Bank, near the Seine. I think I’ve been to Paris about 15 times. France was the first country I traveled to in 1962. Paris demands at least two weeks and a month would be better. I packed in as much as my strength allowed.

We rode in a pedi-cab with a fake parrot.

We rode in a pedi-cab with a fake parrot.

The dollar exchange rate with the euro was nearly one-to-one and restaurant prices are much lower anyway than in NYC. So with money saved, of course I had to buy shoes: leather and lace short boots.

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While most of Paris sleeps on Sundays, the Marais opens its arms to shops and restaurants. People eat falafel on the street. I went to a restaurant, King Falafel, and watched how the woman at the next table ate hers. Maybe it’s an acquired taste but I much preferred our daily breakfast. A walk across the boulevard St Paul to Miss Mannon, whose windows of pastry start you salivating.

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From Margo, I learned to drink my coffee noisette style — espresso but room for milk. And one fluffy croissant was more than enough.

I could go on and on but now I’ll take you on a more personal travel — my life journey.

You probably know I am stage 4 and incurable and that my diagnosis changed from metastasized breast cancer to metastasized lung cancer. I shouldn’t be alive but here I am, and there I was — in Paris! My hero, Oliver Sacks, with his terminal diagnosis said he wants to travel as much as he can. I feel the same way.

When I saw my oncologist, I told her from now on I will not do any chemo, except for the once a month, no side effect Zometa strengthen my bones. I found out that there was not a big enough liver sample to determine any treatment. I have had two liver biopsies. No more.

I saw my internist today and she was pleased by my decision. But not by my losing two pounds. And not pleased at all by the queasiness I feel most mornings. So I am missing Paris but looking forward to every finally-spring day and to the Beatles Ball at the Century tonight. I wish you à bientôt. See you soon!

Spring Waiting in the Wings

I fall down; I get up; I keep dancing!

Don’t worry. I didn’t actually fall down. I try to be extra careful and use a Philips “life line” to wear when I’m alone. I recommend it to those who still climb ladders.

Went 2nd time to Tortola and weather was iffy. Some days windy and rainy. Dust from the Sahara masked the mighty mountains. But it was wonderful to be with son Jim and Sybil. We had a divine day, taking the 20-minute ferry ride to Peter Island, that posh resort. Rode in a van up the mountain and down to the beach. The sea was calm, the sea was clear, the sea had a color of mixed turquoise, cobalt, aqua — or whatever blue-green you love. I snorkeled for 3 minutes; Sybil swam for hours; Jim took pictures and walked the beach. We read and napped and tried the beach restaurant.  A perfect vacation day, which I’m urging Jim and Sybil to take occasionally.

Annie and Sybil at Peter Island

Annie and Sybil at Peter Island

This is Tigerlily. I wish Jim and Sybil would smuggle her on the plane when they come in May!

This is Tigerlily. I wish Jim and Sybil would smuggle her to New York when they come in May!

The day after I got home, I had a new chemo for my LUNG cancer— Alimta, which was a disaster. After a two-day high, I really crashed and started to scratch my entire body. Rashes everywhere and only the use of very low steroids could help after a couple of itch, scratch, itch days.

I had a bad depression for five days.

Three Floridian Explorer’s Club friends stayed with me for the Explorer’s Club Gala. They helped lift my spirits. The first night we partied at the INTREPID museum and the next night was The Night at the American Museum of Natural History. One of my favorite scientists, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos, won the most important medal. It was really fun, dining underneath the museum’s Blue Whale. The next day, we had presentations from amazing explorers.

When the Florida contingent left, I felt depressed again but this time I let friends know and they helped me with their caring.

PLEASE — don’t be afraid to ask for help, when you need it. Friends say it is a gift for them to be able to help.

My two doctors agree no more chemo. When I went to see Dr. Gaynor, my alternative oncologist, he said we’ll see about the future when all the reports come back and I can start treatment. Meanwhile I have new supplements to take — and my appetite is coming back a little, and my mood is lightening—at last.

I just said goodbye to my four “Irish cousins,” visiting for four days.  Two adults, two children, 11 and 13. They are not blood-related but I have stayed very close to son Jim’s first wife’s family in Cork, as has Jim. The two of us plan a trip there in September. The Irish made me and Ralph an Irish feast. Afterwards, the Irish sang — oh what beautiful voices and Ralph sang a lullaby and we sang a silly song together. (I’m one-note).

Sometimes, with self-pity, I think I won’t live that long to travel in September. The phrase, “We now have to think days and weeks, not months and years” haunt me. Other times I think of all the work to “put your affairs in order.”

I found a terrific web site that might help you. Even if you are not ill, one should have all the necessary info and papers in one place. Here’s the link.

Just came back from a lovely lunch with my L.A. friend, Georganne Heller, who produces great Irish plays. She gave me a gift of “Instant Art Notepad” and on the way home, I doodled 3 pictures. The one I like best I call “Seal Smelling Roses.”

McGovern, Ann. “Seal Smelling Roses.” 2015. Pen on paper.

McGovern, Ann. “Seal Smelling Roses.” 2015. Pen on paper.

I mostly doodle but tonight is the Century Club’s Amateur Artists Dinner. Only the artists attend. Between courses, we go around the room, explaining the whys and wherefores of our art. Mine is called, “Draw Your Left Eyebrow: Self Portrait.” A few days ago, Carole and I had a collage session. I felt my creative self was not all there.

I will try and draw or doodle or collage every day. Georganne convinced me I should sell the portraits I do in collage. I’ve had a couple of commissions.

In Tortola, I started writing my last book— true tales of my adventures, as in swimming with sharks. Is that what I am doing now? But most sharks are harmless, unlike cancer.

Good and Not-So-Good News for February/March

The Good News:

Reading my poetry at The National Arts Club; the Oscar Night Party at Sonya’s — we pretend we are in Hollywood, wearing formal clothes, rehearsing our acceptance speeches; dinners with friends; daughter Annie for weekend; so cold — almost every night wind chill below zero.

Alison wheeled me in my wheelchair three blocks to and from an appointment on the worst day of the year, the ground covered in ice and snow. Yay for Alison! She said  it was fun, for me it was fun and scary!

Going to Tortola again to get away from the 67 days of frigidity in NYC. Yesterday was the warmest day we’ve had! Tortola will be a taste of summer.

Seeing the play written by Halley Feiffer, whom I’ve known forever. “I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard.” Intense and wonderful.  Halley won raves for her writing. Lunch with her mom, Jenny Allen, also a writer.  Amateur Artist opening at the Century. My piece is called “Draw Your Left Eyebrow: Self Portrait.” My friend and inspiring teacher, Sas, gave me an assignment, “Draw your left eyebrow, now draw your kidney, draw your spleen, etc.” My acrylic painting came out looking so happy!  Lots of good work in exhibit. …now onto the other end of the spectrum.

Not-So-Good News:

Since my last blog, my good friend, Genie Clark died from lung cancer at the age of 92. We were friends for nearly 40 years. I wrote two books about the Shark Lady — (Shark Lady: True Adventures of Eugenie Clark and Adventures of the Shark Lady: Eugenie Clark Around the World) biographies of her exciting life and work with sharks and other creatures of the sea. We also wrote a book together: The Desert Beneath the Sea. We scuba dived in Israel, Egypt, Indonesia, the Caribbean, lectured together, and were on the team of scuba divers who were the first Americans to dive in China. I will miss her.

Ann and Genie

Ann and Genie

One week of doctors every day! One day liver biopsy. And the result…

I don’t have breast cancer. I have lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer. It turns out that the primary source of my cancer is in my lungs, not in my breast, though I did have cancer in the breast.

Huh? Dr. Panzera says they know because “the way the cells appear…etc” She says she doesn’t think this means much is different, because it is still metastasized cancer.  But now she can choose the right treatment.

So, I say to myself, ok, what abut the past treatments — all the other chemos for months—were they a waste?

Now the new treatments have to be effective for the new brain tumors too. When I get back from Tortola, I’m to start the new treatment, which include steroids. I’ve reacted horribly to steroids in the past.

One day MRI of brain. Another day, results from Dr. Hormigo: a few new tiny tumors in the brain, two of them so small they look like dots.

When I asked about mortality, Dr. Panzera said she couldn’t predict it because I’ve already exceeded expectations. Even though my cancer is progressing, it is progressing over a matter of months and years instead of days and weeks.

I want to leave you with the words from Oliver Sacks op-ed to the Times on Feb. 19th, on learning he has terminal cancer. I feel the same way.

He writes, “It is up to me now to choose how to live…the richest, deepest, most productive way I can…I have been lucky enough to live past 80…equally rich in work and love…I feel intensely alive and I hope to deepen my friendships…to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight…There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at ‘News Hour’ every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or global warming. ….these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I feel the future is in good hands….My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.”

It’s almost spring in New York now. I hope it is where you are, and in your heart.

Stay well. Go well.

Love, annie