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compliments, of perhaps exaggerated compliments. A good
eulogy makes the mourners feel uplifted. But eulogies do
not serve as portraits of the dead. I need to be accurate.
H. always frightened me while driving and we drove
the highways almost every weekend out to the beach and
back; a trip that would take a normal driver close to three
hours was often for us less than two and that s because H.
liked to be the front car in the pack. That s because he drove
fast and moved incessantly from lane to lane and nothing
I could say would stop him. I had long ago decided that I
would die in a car accident with him one day and accepted
wordlessly all the swooping and the veering and the close
calls. Still it made me angry sitting next to him that he
indulged his racing-car fantasy, his World War One pilot
fantasy, in the car with me, with the innocent cat in the
backseat in his box, and some time on this earth still ahead
of us. Yes, he was right, he did not die in a car accident and
he did not harm me. He had driven over sixty years and no
one was ever injured (a few cars were scratched or bent).
But as a driver, behind the wheel, he was unkind.
He was not good at psychoanalytic politics and did not
dodge and weave among the psychoanalytic entities that
made careers for psychoanalysts. He did not follow any
orthodox line altogether. He worked with infants, observ-
ing them with their mothers; he had original ideas and
published original papers but he could not befriend those
he did not like and he could not pretend to be accommo-
dating. He was not. This is a virtue and a fault. He knew
that about himself. He understood himself. It would have
been better had he been a more worldly man. He would
have enjoyed more of the honors his profession dispensed.
He did not believe in interfering in his children s lives.
They have to make their own decisions, he would say again
and again, which sounds virtuous but sometimes made him
seem an absence when he should have been a presence and
sometimes stemmed from a desire to avoid controversy. He
slept soundly on nights that I tossed and turned waiting
for a child to return home, waiting for news of one sort or
Sometimes he was too silent. Sometimes when he was
angry or upset he pulled into himself like a turtle and the
shell was impenetrable. I had to wait, to coax him out, beg
him to return. He would get angry while paying the bills,
including his lifelong alimony to the wife he married first
but shouldn t have. He would sit soundlessly for hours at
our desk with the papers spread before him. A more per-
fect man might have left me a life insurance policy. He
had a policy for his first wife, which he was legally obli-
gated to keep for years, and after that he was older and the
policy would have been costly and we never quite had the
extra funds. I understand but the idea stays in my mind. He
should have protected me. It comes to me that a more per-
fect man would not have left me to send out death certifi-
cates. He also protested when I wanted one more child. Just
one more. I didn t insist. We had enough. He was right, we
couldn t afford it. But still I wanted another baby. A trace
of anger burns across my brain.
But the worst thing he ever did was to die.
H. always did our taxes. He pored over the statements
from the bank, credit card bills, and would list all possible
deductions. He had folders and papers and a system repeated
year after year. When all was done I signed the returns and
mailed them. I have held tax papers in my hands but never
looked at them. My eyes are virginal. Now I try to imi-
tate old notes. Now I try to find out what he was looking
for in the credit card bills. Now I am the sole taxpayer,
the citizen, the one who should remember and mark down
expenses and charitable contributions. My mind rebels. It
is not just. It is not right. I was not made for numerical
matters. This is his job. But he is not here and now I will
do it, badly, but I will do it. Resentfully I will do it.
Psychoanalysis is an art as well as a science. Everyone
says that. H. knew that. Still he wanted to be a scientist.
He wanted to see if the child did indeed develop as the
textbooks say, in the real world. That s why he spent years
observing mothers and their babies in nurseries at major
hospitals. He, with a colleague, directed the nursery. He
advised the mothers. He held the babies. He was in love
with both infant and mother, with the bond that rose
between them. He wrote down the ways a child could sep-
arate from its mother, how it ran toward and away, how its
body reacted in fear to the mother leaving the room. He
was an expert on infant sleep troubles and eating troubles
and slow speech and he ran a nursery for troubled infants
who had no physical disability but were not speaking or
walking, whose eyes wandered about aimlessly. He worked
with a staff to restore the crucial human connections, to
bring these fragile babies back to life. He talked about how
children react to the differences between the sexes and
how it made boys and girls behave differently. This was
a dangerous conversation in the early feminist years. He
didn t care. He saw what he saw and published it in papers.
When he talked to me about what happened in his nursery,
when he explained to me his ideas on anger or shyness in
small children, his voice would grow even deeper and I
was held as in a spell by a great wizard, a wizard who was
my spouse.
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