Esther was a smart, sassy woman. making me realize that I like smart, sassy women, and don't feel intimidated by them. I've often said that knowing Esther made other women seem a little boring.

Here's a "local" example of this sassiness. Esther's room-mate in college was Barbara Waters. Barbara married a man, Vince Kramer, who performed heroically in the Marines during WWII and in Korea and Vietnam. Vince bought a beautiful Malamute dog and his boast of the dog's fierceness provoked Esther to test this. When Barbara and Vince visited us with the dog, Esther sneaked the Malamute from the car into the kitchen to feed him cookies. As the dog came out of the kitchen with a cookie hanging from his mouth, Vince yelled, "You're ruining my dog!" Later, I asked Esther if she did this to provoke Vince. She said, "Of course! I won't having Vince saying those wild things about that nice doggy!"

As an example of her sassiness at work, Esther joined others in trying to form a CIO union in The National Council of Churches. I took her to many meetings. One issue was Social Security. Church organizations used "separation of church and state" to preclude many perks of most workers. For the first 12 years of her working life, Esther was not under Social Security provisions, although S.S. started in our teens.

Remembering this, in 1961, living on the campus of Inter American University, San Germán, Puerto Rico, Esther immediately began paying our maid, Lola, the highest wage of any campus maids, which enfuriated the other faculty and administrative wives. And she immediately began paying Lola Social Security -- another "outrage". But it meant that, when we permanently moved to the States five years later, Lola could retire from a lifetime of hard work on a Social Security pension, the only woman in the Valley of El Coto to do so. Later we heard that some faculty and adminstrative wives arriving later heard of Esther's example and began to emulate it, so that eventually it became the norm. In 1983, receiving money from her mother's will, Esther bought a washer and dryer and taught Lola to use them. This also infuriated other university wives: "What's the use of having a maid if you don't get all the work out of her that uou can?" Intermittently, for weeks, Lola demonstrated her skill at operating these machines to her neighbors coming down from El Coto.

Esther's fluency in Spanish allowed her to learn much about Lola, in particular, that she formerly did piece-work sewing of handkerchiefs for a firm in San Germán owned by a State-side textile company. Lola and other women in her region would take the long walk from the mountains to San Germán to submit their finished handkerchiefs for approval, receive minimum pay, and take the unfinished cloth back home for working. But the textile company closed the San Germán firm and moved the work to the Phillipines for even cheaper workers. Esther discovered that union pressure had forced the textile company to set up a "close-out" fund for the workers, but that this fund was still sitting in the bank unpaid. After many letters, the money was paid out to Lola and other women neighbors. Not a lot. I think Lola received less than $100, but it helped. And all the women were so amazed that an "Americana" should go to so much trouble for a "Borqueña".

Esther often demonstrated concern for her fellow workers. Around 1950, Esther heard that a woman who worked in her building and sometimes lunched with her had committed herself to the Bellvue Mental Hospital for delusional episodes. I took Esther to visit her. We went through prison-type enclosures into a cell-type room. Esther spent two hours talking to the woman and consoling her. Later, Esther phoned many ministers, and found three who promised to visit the woman and try to arrange for her clinical care.

More sassiness: Esther suffered fools gladly, so she could fool them right back -- although, often, they didn't know they were being fooled. One thing she fooled was her own disability.

We "normals" cannot adequately understand, or even imagine, the invasion of privacy, the threat to individuality and integrity, suffered by those who must frequently accept prosthetic support. Esther knew and surmounted it all -- to the end.

Esther told me that her favorite fairy story was "The Little Mermaid", for whom she felt a kinship. When the Little Mermaid lost her fish-tail and acquired feet and walked on land, the story said her feet hurt as if cut by knives. Esther said she understood this. By her own account, Esther had "two legs, hot and cold". The low circulation in her paralyzed leg often chilled it so much that her "normal" leg seemed "hot". I've so often warmed that dear cold leg.

And Esther told me that another favorite story of her childhood was "The Litte Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen. "I'd read that story and cry and cry. Then read it again and cry." In olden days, matches were made by dipping a stick in a phosphorus preparation without protective coating, leaving it poisonous. Respectable people treated matches cautiously, and only the poor sold them on street corners. This poor girl, on Christmas Eve, sick from the poisonous contact and freezing from the cold, stood on the corner trying to sell her matches, as heavy snow fell down. People passed by with sympathetic glances and murmurs of pity, but no one bought a match or offered any gesture of kindness. As the snow piled up, The Little Match Girl literally froze to death. Esther said, "With all my problems" -- which, without her saying, included a paralyzed left leg, a deformed little left foot, many operations (some on that left foot), and long periods in the hospital -- "With all my problems, I realized I was better off than The Little Match Girl!"

But "I shall overcome!" was also Esther's theme song. Esther early determined not to become the recluse that her Aunt Catherine was.

Her father thought Esther couldn't "mainstream" in public school, where she must complete classes in early spring to enter the hospital for operation and convalescence all summer. (Esther said she saw some of her pictures in medical books: a teen-age girl, naked except for a black cardboard across her eyes, displaying her disabilities.) Shouldn't go away to college, where, because of her initials, she became known as "Eore". Shouldn't work in Cuba (in Metances, later home of young media-star Elian Gonzalez). Shouldn't return to work in New York City, moving there. Shouldn't get married and have childen. Shouldn't go with me to Puerto Rico to a college her father helped found and would visit one or two times a year. Etc. But, encouraged by her mother, Esther did all of these things, besides swimming, climbing a (low-bough) tree to read a book, riding horses, going to summer camp with The Camp Fire Girls, and driving a car with semi-automatic transmission but no special prosthetic device.

I think Esther was motivated by the example of her much-older sister. Louise taught at a private schools for years before marriage and children. Esther continued her career after marriage and two children, contributed to the community, attained an advanced degree, and carrried on years of research. More than a "handful" of women have accomplished, and even fewer men. But Esther "had it all" -- on a cane, in a wheelchair, on a scooter -- which may have made it unique.

I'm consoled by remembering that whenever she asked me about a new venture, I encouraged her and said I'd support her in any way I could. One venture, at first surprising to me, was to bear children. When she asured me that her longtime orthopedist, Dr. Mather Cleveland, thought she could handle pregnancy on a cane, I readily agreed. Esther gave me two handsome, loving, talented sons, who gave us four beautiful grandchildren. Esther often laughed with pride at their activities.

However, citing her disability, her college Dean had not allowed Esther to major in Education to fulfill her aspirations of becoming a teacher (as her sister, Louise, had been before marriage). Decades later, both the President and the Dean, in separate letters, apologized for their predecessors. But Esther had already ignored this limitation, teaching at many schools in many cities and countries. In our Campus School at InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico, Esther was home room teacher for, and advisor to, the Senior Class and taught English, Spanish, French, and Latin. Esther served a particularly unique function. Due to good economic conditions in PR at that time, thousands of Puerto Rican families were returning home from New York City, swamping the Island schools. These "Nuyorican" students baffled Island teachers. They knew Spanish from hearing it in their home, but tried to read and write Spanish with the phonetics of English. Only Esther seemed to understood their problems, so taught many, many of them to read and write their own language. (There is now a Nuyorican Poets Café in NYC, where poets recite Nuyorican poetry to a background of Latin music.) In 1971, Esther was Instructor in French at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.

In later years, Esther remained smart and sassy by listening to, and sometime debating with, radio talk shows, such as the PBS "All Things Considered", and TV "C-Span". Some times Esther would turn this off, saying, "That's just jabber!"

Esther indirectly connected with a historic event decades ago with consequences in our time. Weeks before our wedding (Aug. 28, 1948), Esther spent many office hours preparing material for her boss, Dr. Frank Laubach --- worldwide literacy teacher -- to take on his next literacy campaign in August. Some of these hours were unpaid overtime, time she'd rather devote toward her coming wedding -- office work all in vain. Dr. Laubach was going to Palestine for literacy teaching both among the Palestinians and the Israelis. (European Sephardic Jews were highly or sufficiently literate but some of the Eastern Askenazi Jews of that time were not.) Laubach had communicated, and hoped to work, with Count Folke Bernadotte, United Nations mediator for Palestine. The Swedish Count, as WWII head of the Swedish Red Cross, was credited with saving thousands of escapees from Nazi prison camps, and later with other missions of peace. He was rumored in line to receive the next Nobel Prize for Peace. But, on Sept. 17 (1948), two weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, the Count was shot to death in Jerusalem, along with French Col. André Serot. Terrorist members of The Stern Gang claimed credit for this assassination. And Dr. Laubach's life was so threatened he had to abandon his literacy campaign. Esther opened letters to her office with threats not only toward Laubach but toward the Literacy office staff, presumably from American sympathizers, angry about Laubach's association with Count Folke Bernadotte and at suggestions that any Israelis needed teaching. All the work Esther had done before our wedding was scuttled. At different later times, the founder of The Stern Gang and one of its members became Prime Ministers of Israel. The Count did not receive the Peace Prize because Alfred Nobel's Will does not allow a Prize to be given to a deceased person. The Count was succeeded by his aide, Dr. Ralph Bunche, the first African-American to receive a Nobel Prize (for Peace). Have you ever heard anything about this assassination? You can get details ONLINE. For example, and .

Esther was bilingual, learning Spanish as a small child in Havana, Cuba, where her father and mother were missionaries. She was almost trilingual, learning French as a young girl in the oft-visited house of a girl with Swiss-French parents, then majored in French at college. Esther could recite Alexandrine passages from the plays of Racine and Corneille, as some recite Shakespeare. And Esther sang in French many songs, including Christmas carols.

Starting to work with Esther in the office, we -- essentially the same age -- soon realized -- as we later agreed -- that we were kindred critters. Esther lived her teens in Montclair, NJ; I, in Springfield, MO, later in Tulsa, OK. But we read the same short stories, same novels, same poetry and dramas. Listened to the same music -- classical and popular. Listened to the same radio programs. We both heard Benny Goodman's first "swing session" in New York City. Both heard that first broadcast of Glen Miller's Band at the Meadowbrook, near Esther's home. Both heard the first broadcast of Bing Crosby's "Kraft Music Hall" and Bob Hope's comedy program. Later, when I recalled this, Esther would retort, "But you didn't write me about it!"

Esther wasn't fond of her first name. When born, her father was a Presbyterian missionary in Havana, Cuba. So she was given a name which is the same in Spanish as in English, besides being Biblical. But Esther told me she liked her middle name, "Caroline", better -- for her Aunt Carrie, an unmarried teacher who left scholarship money for Esther. So I started trying to use this name, with meager results. One day we were waiting for a bus on 23rd St. Esther was looking in a shop window when I saw the bus coming over a block away. I called, "Caroline!" No response. Again, "Caroline!" No response. "Caroline!!" Still no response, but a woman passing by glared at me as if to ask, "Are you bothering that young woman?" As the bus pulled up, I yelled, "Esther!" And she yelled back, "Whatttt?" After getting Esther seated on the bus, I said to her, "This isn't going to work!"

Esther was so different than girls or women I had known. She generously praised other women. One the other hand, if we encountered a woman exposing both northern and southern cleavage, Esther would say, "Go ahead and look at her. She wouldn't dress that way if she didn't want you to look." Esther never giggled. She had a spontaneous delightful laugh.

One of Esther's constant comments was "This is just right!" (Growing up with a complaining mother, followed by marriage to a complaining first wife, Esther's blissful contentment quite charmed me, and I often told her so.)

But Esther sometimes found it difficult to curb her tongue. One afternoon, in 1947, we went to the movie theater to see that great David Lean film, "Brief Encounter", with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. Married Celia happens to meet married Trevor at a diner along the railway each separately traveled. They became friends, then almost-lovers. In the last scene, Celia is knitting and nervously peeking at her husband, as if wondering if she should tell him. She looks up and opens her mouth. Esther shouted out, "Don't tell him!" The house roared with laughter.

Esther loved animals. She brought home our first kitten, Tobermory (named for the voyeur cat in Saki's short story which knew English and tattled about love-affairs of neighbors). For weeks of working-noondays, with sandwich and cane, Esther boarded the bus homeward to see if Toby-kitten was comfy, then back to afternoon work. Later, in P. R., our extended family boasted up to 18 cats and a big dog. Esther's love of animals included mice, spiders, garter snakes, ladybugs, especially earthworms, but not cockroaches. Esther's favorite bird was the robin -- always for her, "robin redbreast".

Esther displayed dyamic beauty. I'll explain. Many women models, actors, entertainers display static beauty -- symmetry of face or body, intensity of some feature. But no human can compete with some animals in static beauty -- say, the face and body of a leopard, the fantail of a peacock, the irridescence of a hummingbird, the grace-in-motion of a gazelle or dolphin. Yet some women look dynamically beautiful when they smile or exhibit happiness. Actors could teach this to more women. But Esther had it. Her brave debonair happiness beautified our world!

Because she'd spent so much of her childhood and teens in hospitals, Esther loved to "gad about". Of myself, I didn't, but Esther "gave me eyes to see". Growing up in Springfield, MO, and Tulsa, OK, I'd yearned to "go to the big city and see the sights". Just before WWII, I got to New York City, but it was a big disappointment. As Miss Peggy Lee sings, "Is this all there is?" I can best explain by saying that nothing seemed framed. I was denied enjoyment of anything on the street, in the theater, in museums, by distractions all around. After the War, coming back to NYC on a 6-Day Pass, before being discharged from the Army Air Corps, with free tickets to everything, it was the same. But all this changed when I accompanied Esther and saw with her eyes. Much of the time, I simply watched, and partook of, Esther's delight in whatever was before her.

Soon after our engagement, I -- as a World War II veteran -- received a Bonus of $500 -- a lot of money, in those days. Money for a good time. The City Center Ballet, under Balanchine, was a year or two old, and a City Center Opera Company had been established. We went to ballets, operas, concerts, Broadway plays, movies, restaurants, art galleries, museums, hootenanies in the Village. The ballet had special meaning for both of us. Esther, of course, could not dance. But, watching Maria Tallchief or Tanaquil LeClerq or Suzanne Farrell dance, Esther danced with each ballerina. I could see it in her body and sense in my arm about her. Similarly, with me, for my fundamentalist mother declared dancing to be "wicked", so I never learned to dance. But when I watched André Eglevski or Edward Villella or Jacques d'Amboise, I was there dancing with him.

In a theater, I sat with my arm around Esther's shoulder, a posture which Bill Cosby (in a comic recording) said could give a fellow an arm cramp worse than the pains a woman feels in bearing a child. But, partiularly at the ballet, I risked "birth pains" in my arm because, with my arm resting on Esther's shoulder, I could feel the tiny movements of her dancing.

Years later -- when busy with work and family duties -- we were renewed by the memory of those happy days of our year of engagement. (About this time, Esther told me that, in her teens and early twenties, she never expected to see forty. That she reached a little over eighty was evidence of her indomitable spirit. And I hope I supported her in that.)

Esther became a very good cook after our marriage -- although she said her mother limited her in the kitchen when she was growing up. Esther's pot roast (stew and meat) was the best I've eaten anywhere, any time. So was her spaghetti sauce. And her chile. When she was experimenting, and I became satisfied, I'd ask her if she was satisfied. If she said, "a little more" of this, or "a little less" of that, I'd agree with her apparent desire to strive further. That Esther could find a consensive blend for these and other dishes attested to her culinary ability. Her specialty, which she learned from her mother, was toasted almonds. Boil the almonds to squirt from skins; fry in oil; dry on paper towels. Her family, relatives, friends, and neighbors long remember this delicacy.

I've mixed feelings about stopping her from the wheelchair darts here and there to optimize the chile and the spahghetti sauce. Out of concern for her physical tiring, I may have been insensitive to her determination to work as much as an able-bodied person.

Esther had her college degree, but I did not. Immediately, after marriage, I began studies, under "The G. I. Bill", on a physics major at Columbia University, working by day, going to school at night. After the first year, we agreed this would take too long. So I attended Columbia full-time by day, and did partime work. Esther continued to work at the Literacy Office.

Then I worked fulltime by day at an insurance brokerage and attended New York University Graduate School, majoring in mathematics. Esther still with Literacy. I suggested that she begin graduate work, but she put it off.

However, when I was in the Mathematics Department of The University of Maine at Orono, I persuaded her to complete courses for a Master's degree in Comparative Literature. Having suffered many breaks in her legs, she was mostly confined to wheelchair, able to walk only short distances on crutches. The buildings of her classes had no elevators. I'd support her ascending, on Australian crutches, one or two flights of stairs; then I'd bring up her wheelchair. But the day she defended her Thesis and all was complete, she broke her good leg again. So the local newspaper displayed a photograph of Esther, cappped and gowned in wheelchair with leg in cast, receiving her degree..

In Maine, Esther's sassing kept a policeman from taking me to jail. After a year there, I was eligible to vote, so I went to register. But I was told I'd have to pay a $10 poll tax. (Even after many Southern states had ended the poll tax -- which inhibited African-Americans and poor whites from voting -- Maine still had a poll tax.) I wrote a check for it and registered. But we were having budget problems at this time and my check "bounced". I didn't know about it because the front door of the house we rented had partially collapsed on its hinges, making it necessary to enter and exit by the back door. So I missed checking the mail a few days. A policeman came to the back door to arrest me as a "bad check artist". Esther said he could put her in jail in her wheelchair. Otherwise, she'd take a taxi there and picket the police station in her wheelchair. The policeman backed down and accepted another check. Saved by Momma!

Esther's advanced studies inspired her life's research. One subject was Marguerite d'Angouleme (1492-1549), popularly known as Maguerite, Queen of Navarre, author of a classic, The Heptameron. Will Durant, in his 11-volume work, The Story of Civilization, says that Marguerite d'Angouleme represents two Ages, both The Renaissance and The Reformation -- a recognition apparently granted to no man in all literature.

Besides her poetry and prose, Marguerite was patron of many notable Renaissance artists and writers, protecting some from censure or even execution. A professed Roman Catholic, yet Marguerite was intermediary with European Protestants. Some historians have said that if Marguerite had lived longer, she might have prevented the terrible St. Bartholomew Massacre of French Protestants in 1577. The Massacre was apparently instigated by her nephew's widow, Catherine de Medici, Dowager Queen of France, with the acquiescence of Catherine's son, Charles XIII, boy King of France. But Charles' father, King Henry II, is on record as saying, "If it were not for my aunt, Marguerite, I should doubt the existence of as such a thing as perfect goodness on the earth." So, had she lived long enough, Marguerite might have persuaded her great-nephew to prevent this Massacre, which drove surviving Huguenots into many lands.

Besides noting some Huguenot influence on Presbyterianism, I single out one Huguenot who escaped to England, Abraham De Moivre. Among many accomplishments, De Moivre created the formula for the first annuity. Those of you on annuities, or with relatives or friends on annuities, can thank Abraham De Moivre. This mathematician also created the "bell curve", which should be called "The De Moivre Curve". So many Huguenot artisans were eventually driven into England that their work transformed England from an importing to an exporting nation. One surving Huguenot who came to America was the ancestor of our patriot, the silversmith, Paul Revere.

After my retirement in 1990, I drove Esther to Duke University, Durham, NC, for a weeklong celebration of the works of Marguerite d'Angouleme. There Esther heard of a definitive biography of Marguerite. After searching ten years, I succeeded, a few months ago, in obtaining for Esther a copy from France of this biography.

Esther's other great research interest concerned authorship of the 1554 anonymously published classic, Lazarillo de Tormes, subject of the paper for which Esther won First Prize in a contest given by the National Spanish Honor Society. Lazarillo de Tormes is progenitor of The Picaresque Novel in literature, a genre including Daniel Dafoe's Moll Flanders, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. In each chapter of the book, this young rogue serves a different master. One chapter details his service to an eccentric old knight. Miguel Cervantes said that this chapter inspired his classic, Don Quixote.

Esther thought the author might be one of twin brothers who were "conversos", Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. One brother was Secretary to The Pope. The other, Juan de Valdes, whom Esther thought could be the author -- was often denounced as a Protestant. A friend of Marguerite d'Angouleme, yet he prudently sneaked into Italy, to become spiritual confidant of the great Michelangelo. I downloaded for Esther a long scholarly speculation that Juan de Valdes partially influenced the design of Michelangelo's famous unfinished statuary, The Pieta.

There is a statistical method for investigating authorship, used to settle for many the authorship controversy about many of The Federalist Papers, which contributed to the framing of our Constitution. This method, applicable to the Lazarillo authorship problem, requires word count of, say, 70 commonly used words; frequencies of these words often characteristically vary from author to author. Esther tried to tabulate these counts on cards. There is software that quickly counts, by running chapters through it. I have these chapters in my files, and I've tried for 15 years to obtain this software. I'll continue to do so, for there are historical, religious, and philsophical connections that augment the literary ones. Two years ago, I learned of a different mathematical method for this purpose which has confirmed the previous findings regarding The Federalist Paper controversy, and I'm trying to obtain the software for this.

I have 24 Websites ONLINE, and 28 more planned. Some of these explicitly involve research Esther initiated, and all of them implictly involve interests she shared with me. I've work enough to last the rest of my life -- even if I survive to age one hundred.

In May, 1998, in a Saturday twilight, I suffered a stroke, fell, and could only raise my shoulders. Esther was bedridden and couldn't help. Lights were off; our only telelphone across the apartment. I scooted 12 hours on my back to reach the phone, for several calls to rescue us. I kept my brain busy and constantly told Esther where I was and what I was doing. She was taken to Home Care and I to hospital and rehabilitation, until we were re-united. But, during that ordeal, I realized that I was activating the lesson Esther taught me over the 53 years we loved together.

In the last months, as her limitations increased, Esther sometimes uncharacteristically gave way to concerns, saying, "I'm so much trouble to you. You'd be better off without me." And I'd object, "Don't say that. If I lost you, I'd become a disreputable old recluse." And Esther would beg, "Don't say that. Promise you won't become that!" So I promised. And I will keep my promise, as I kept my marriage vows.

As with Esther, I will fall and pick myself up and be grateful for support of others in doing so, as I continue to activate the lesson I learned from this sassy, smart, beautiful, sweet "just-right" woman who still graces and blesses my life.

As bravely she lived, so bravely she died. Fool that I am, I had no idea as to how sick she was -- until the end.

So I pass from a wonderful, exciting, richly rewarding Life With My Lady Esther to a Life For Esther.