Monday, July 20, 2015

Tania Grossinger, 1937-2015

Tania Grossinger's autobiography, Memoir of an Independent Woman, begins with the following paragraph:
I was born in Evanston, Illinois on February 17, 1937. My mother, Karla Seifer Grossinger, had, in her seventh month, been hospitalized for observation. The pregnancy, her first, was not going well. My father, Max, had been admitted to a separate wing ten days earlier with a second heart attack. She overheard two nurses speaking outside her door. "Isn't it a shame that Mr. Grossinger is dying." My mother told me this story when I was six years old; it was one of the rare times she ever mentioned my father. She begged the nurses to let her see him but was warned she might lose the baby if she left her bed. Two minutes later they picked her up from the floor. My heartbeat was undetectable, and a caesarean section was performed, ostensibly to bring out a dead fetus.
From this inauspicious beginning came a woman who would, over the course of her life, become friends with Jackie Robinson and Betty Friedan, and have meaningful encounters with John F. Kennedy, Hugh Hefner, Ayn Rand (who played a joke on her), and Johnny Carson, among others. Details are in her book; my review is here.

This morning I was greatly saddened to learn of her death on Sunday, July 19, at the age of 78. I wish I had been given more time to spend with her; not just to hear her stories of the good (and not so good) and great she had known, but to appreciate her own magnificence,

Addendum: my fellow Lion's Head alum Maureen O'Brien has these words:
RIP Tania Grossinger. You were amazing. I will always remember your infectious smile, laugh, sensitivity, smarts, and heart. Thank you so much for being my friend, Village neighbor, Lion's Head pal and non-stop cheerleader. You and your wonderful books will never be forgotten. You were one of the greats. xoxomo