I AM AT A LOSS. A close confidant has died. I relied on her counsel and advice for 46 years. She was a next-door neighbor, best friend and mother all rolled into one. She talked me through everything from a serious case of teen-age acne to my husband's affair with his secretary to the drug overdose of my son. She never hemmed and hawed and delivered her advice with candor, compassion and a comic's one-liner. "Kwitcherbellyachin'" was a favorite expression.
And if she didn't always have the answer, she knew where you might find it. Like the time my cousin's dog got stuck in the toilet or a close friend tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS.
When the husband she adored left her for another woman, she shared her pain and memorialized "one of the world's best marriages that didn't make it to the finish line."
But her sage wisdom wasn't only about etiquette, matters of the heart or life's absurdities. On the Vietnam War, the death penalty, alcoholism, abortion rights or gun control, she wasn't shy about advocating her position far and wide and to those in power.
All these years, I thought I had a one-of-a-kind relationship with her. But since her death last week at age 83, I have learned that Eppie Lederer, "a nice Jewish girl from Sioux City, Iowa," touched the lives of millions with her straight-talk on all things large and small.
Whether you were Anxious in Akron, Nervous in Nevada or Wrong Side of the Tracks in New York, she sought to make things right.
What shall I do now that the Lady With All the Answers is no more?
- Bereaved in Baltimore