(Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore…)
Nora Ephron's collection of essays, "I Remember Nothing," was a memoir about aging, written while it was happening because, she explained, you never know which meal will actually be your last meal.
In it, the wry and witty author and filmmaker included a list of the things she would not miss when she died — dry skin, bras, bad dinners "like the one we went to last night," Clarence Thomas and panels on "Women in Film."
And the things she would miss: among them waffles, the concept of waffles, a walk in the park, the concept of a walk in the park, fireworks, Paris, taking a bath and pie.
We didn't know it at the time, but Nora Ephron was doing what she always did best — mining her own life and its mundanity to amuse the rest of us.
She was battling a form of leukemia at the time, but she kept her illness to herself. Some of her best friends didn't know she was so sick until she died of complications Tuesday in New York.
(In a happenstance Ms. Ephron would have adored, gossip columnist Liz Smith misunderstood her son, Jacob Bernstein, and published word that she had died when, in fact, he had said only that she would soon. He was inviting her to the funeral. In advance. Ms. Ephron would have gotten an entire script out of this.)
Born to a pair of screenwriters who insisted that she and her three sisters come to the dinner table with anecdotes the parents could use, that's pretty much how she went through life. Everything that happened to her eventually found its way into an essay or a move script.
"She was very good at details," said former Baltimore Sun theater critic Judy Rousuck. "She was able to find the universal in the specific. And she was very, very good at that."
Ms. Rousuck remembers when Ms. Ephron was scouting The Sun as a location for Meg Ryan's job as a reporter in "Sleepless in Seattle."
"She was taking pictures and she took a picture of me and I went tearing across the room to tell Jean Marbella that my mother would kill me because I was wearing my rattiest jumper.
"And Jean said, 'Don't worry, now everyone in the movie will be wearing jumpers.'
"I was very disappointed when the movie came out and everybody was wearing those little suits."
Ms. Ephron, Ms. Rousuck said, was just far enough ahead of our generation of women — she was born in 1941, pre-dating the Baby Boom by a few years — that she could tell us about what the next stage of life would be like.
"She saw promise in everything. That it wouldn't be so bad. She could make us laugh about it. That was her gift."
For the record, Ms. Ephron wanted her last meal to be a hot dog from Nate 'n' Al's in Beverly Hills with a little mustard and maybe some sauerkraut.
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