I've noted a strange phenomenon since embarking on this film project. It's true, there were several people close to my mother such as her friends, family and co-workers that I have gotten to know over the years. What's odd is that despite my meeting them for the first time, with many I have felt instantly close. I remember, for example, meeting Dick Robinson, the current CEO of Scholastic and my mother's former employer, dear friend and sometime romantic interest. I was 19 and about to begin a summer-long internship at his publishing house, when he came down to greet the most recent crop of interns.
As I stood in the center of the room's corridor, he walked toward me, hugged me tight, and began to cry. I've always resembled my mother in looks and mannerisms, so I've been told, and this has prompted similar reactions in many of her friends and family who have met me throughout the years. It's certainly an odd and sometimes eerie feeling when the person greeting you sees you as an incarnation of someone who has passed, paritcularly when you never knew that person and even more so when that person happens to be your own mother.
Most recently, I was visiting one of my mother's best friends, Hinda Gilbert, at her home in San Francisco. Hinda and my mother go way back to grammar school, where they became each other's treasured confidants during their emotionally tumultuous growing years. They kept in touch for decades, and on this visit I planned to interview Hinda about their friendship and her stories about my mother.
One night, driving around the city after dinner, Hinda said "you know I feel so comfortable talking to you just about anything. And that was how I felt with your mother, too." I told her I felt the same way. Hinda reached out to me when I was 19, saying she had dreamed about me and my brother and was sorry not to have kept in touch after my mother's death. She flew me out to San Francisco for a week and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other and enjoying the city. Since then, Hinda and I have made trips to Maui, Mallorca, Wales, England, Chicago, New York and down the California coast where she took me to check out a graduate school program in Valencia, CA. In short, she has become a treasured friend and mentor.
I don't question them too much, these reconnections I've made. I am grateful for them, though. They feel like homecomings.