Our friend Ann McGovern died at 85 on Saturday August 8th. She died as she lived, her way.
Tiny cancerous tumors tangled in her brain, but she kept her thinking straight. After battling cancer for several years, and believing the tumors had disappeared, an MRI revealed that they’d come back.
She called the tumors Octopuses and started a blog in their name: Annie’s Octopuses. As they multiplied, she wrote on her blog:
What I’m going for is Quality of Life. Fun and reading and writing this and music and movies and theater and art and helping and family and friends always. I wish I could make peace in the world happen but methinks I need more time!
I plan for a good Quality of Life, however long or short it will be.
She did it all, and even traveled to Paris this past spring.
We had dinner at her home on a warm evening at the beginning of July with her children Charlie and Jill, who traveled from East Timor to stay with her, and her lover Ralph.
A week later, we enjoyed her company at a Bastille Day party and then on August 3, 2015 she wrote on her blog:
Since the journey has become difficult I have chosen the option of “no eating and drinking” to have closure on my beautiful, rich, life. All of my family are here, including my grandchildren, and Ollie the cat.
She imagined her descent into death as a kind of “bliss.”
Six days later, Ralph emailed: “Annie left us early Saturday morning. Rest peacefully, my sweet Annie.”
While she laying dying Ralph wrote a poem that explains his love and how hard he found it to sit back and watch her die as she chose. You can read that poem here: “Annie” by Ralph Greenberg.
THE LIFE OF ANNIE
We profiled Annie in our series “LivingI” when she was 83. As soon as we turned on the camera and Annie began to talk, we felt the power of her extraordinary story. Annie served as an inspiration for all. She found new avenues instead of dead-end alleys, and made the most of every thing she did.
As a child, Annie created an inner sunshine that propelled her escape from a narrow life in the home of an abusive mother. She used the public library as her refuge and the stories that she read stimulated her imagination and impelled her to make up her own.
Her quest for something new led her to the University of New Mexico and a bad young marriage, which produced her beloved son Peter.
She brought her baby back to New York and started to try to make a living to support them. She realized she could put her love of stories and adventure to work. She found a job at the publisher Golden Books, taught herself to write and with the help of senior editors wrote popular children’s books about TV characters like Roy Rogers. She worked so hard and so effectively that Scholastic Publishing offered her a job as an editor and her career took off.
Ann McGovern’s books sold more than 30 million copies. She authored memorable titles like “Stone Soup” and “Too Much Noise.”
She luckily met, fell in love with and married Marty Scheiner. She said he believed in her so much that he helped her to cure a lifelong stutter.
They adopted each other’s children and formed a big family. She brought them her judgment-free thinking and creative magic and they taught her how to scuba dive and share their passion for the sport. She and Marty traveled the world, entertained their friends and family and spread their love wherever they went.
Marty died young, leaving Annie to push on and continue to reimagine her life again. She became a poet, a collagist and diorama artist, a philanthropist who created a reading space at her childhood library, and an adventurer who explored the world.
We met Annie late but we are glad we had the opportunity to join the party.