There’s a cartoon in the November 3rd “New Yorker” showing pall bearers carrying a coffin. The caption reads, “I’m just glad he had a good life and filed his absentee ballot last week.”
Estelle Reiner, Carl's wife of 64 years, died a week before the election, had a good life and had filed an absentee ballot. There was nothing cartoon-like about her. Though her life was filled with laughter, she was always real.
When I last saw Estelle, about two years ago, she took me aside to say, “I’m an old lady and I don’t want to die with George Bush in office.” I told her I’d just heard the very same thing from Kitty Carlyle Hart, whom I didn't know, but had been sitting next to at an event. That's how she'd answered when I'd asked her after such an illustrious past, what she was looking forward to.
If Bush did nothing else of value – and the evidence suggests that's the case – he motivated some extraordinary, elderly women to keep going.
Strangers remember Estelle as the woman in “When Harry Met Sally,” who said, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
If there were a movie, “When Carl Met Estelle,” who wouldn’t look at Estelle’s rich, long and loving life and say, “I’ll have what she’s having?”