:: Norma Wikler Memorial ::

...:: alan mittelsdorf: an appreciation of norma ::...
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Originally introduced to Norma by Moira Roth as a potentially suitable housemate in Manhattan and graduating to the role of "cousin" to obviate the need to answer the personal questions of relative strangers, I got to know Norma well as friend, housemate and "cousin".

Now Norma has left us and taken along her energy, imagination and profound sense of the ridiculous.

With reference to her final action, there are many feelings and opinions swirling about out there--many of them sorely conflicted.

For me, I am deeply sorry I won't be able to enjoy her companionship ever again. That's my loss. Her loss was that if she had stayed on longer, she could have experienced more of the joys and pains we all derive from the act of living.

I think she made her decision carefully, over time, about what those joys and pains might be and concluded the pain would exceed the joy by an unacceptable margin. It was wholly a personal decision which I believe we all have the right to make free of an institutional veto. Her graduation ceremony from nursing school was really evidence enough of how much she enjoyed having others exercise what she considered undue influence over her life.

During the part of her life that I knew anything about, she was regularly unafraid to take difficult decisions on questions where the results could not be clearly forseen or forseen at all. Who leaves a tenured professorship in early middle age to work on a temporary, lightly funded project of unknown duration in a faraway city? Only someone sufficiently sure of herself in a general sense and who also had a lively understanding of her capabilities and special talents. Did I forget the tremendous personal courage and the highly developed sense of adventure that overlay it all?

Was Norma's ultimate decision on her personal fate wrong or right? Who is presumptuous enough to say? Who, besides Norma, walked in her shoes?


Submitted with many fond memories and profound respect,

Alan Mittelsdorf