Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dana Reeve, RIP

Both the Reeve and broader UU families are sadder and emptier today. Let our hearts embrace Dana's and Chris's surviving children as they come to grips with this terrible further loss, so soon after the loss of Chris.

Christopher Reeve's Widow Dies at Age 44
By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press Writer

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Dana Reeve, who won worldwide admiration for her devotion to her "Superman" husband, Christopher Reeve, through his decade of near-total paralysis, has died of lung cancer at the age of 44.

Reeve, a singer-actress who gave up some of her own career to be one of the nation's best-known caregivers, died late Monday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, said Kathy Lewis, president of the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

Reeve had succeeded her husband as chair of the foundation, which funded research into spinal-cord paralysis cures. She announced in August that, while she wasn't a smoker, she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Lewis visited Reeve in the hospital Friday and said Reeve was "tired but with her typical sense of humor and smile, always trying to make other people feel good, her characteristic personality."

"She was a woman with an incredible heart who really put herself out there to help people with disabilities and especially those who are caregivers — something she knew a lot about," Lewis said.

Four months ago, at a fundraising gala for the foundation, Reeve looked healthy in a long, formal gown and said she was responding well to treatment and her tumor was shrinking.

"I'm beating the odds and defying every statistic the doctors can throw at me," Reeve said then. "My prognosis looks better all the time."

Asked how she kept her spirits up, Reeve said she "had a great model."

"I was married to a man who never gave up," she said.

Christopher Reeve, star of Hollywood's "Superman" movies, became an activist for spinal cord research after a horse-riding accident paralyzed him in 1995. He died Oct. 10, 2004.

Dana Reeve was a constant companion and supporter of her husband during his long ordeal and his work for a cure for spinal cord injuries.

The couple had a 13-year-old son, Will, and Dana Reeve had two grown stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.

Reeve, who lived in Pound Ridge, had appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and regional stages and on the TV shows "Law & Order," "Oz," and "All My Children."

She was on the board of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, where she met Christopher Reeve doing summer theater, and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

A year ago, she won a Mother of the Year award from the American Cancer Society. A society vice president, Dr. Michael Thun, said Reeve "has shown strength and courage in the face of tremendous adversity." Doctors say 1 in 5 women diagnosed with the disease never lit a cigarette.

In addition to her son and step-children, she is survived by her father, Dr. Charles Morosini, and sisters Deborah Morosini and Adrienne Morosini Heilman.

No funeral plans were announced. The family said donations could be made in Dana Reeve's memory to the Christopher Reeve Foundation in Short Hills, N.J.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

It's Ash Wednesday, exactly six months later, and a good time to bring this post back to the top.

[For those who don't recognize "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin", the words are the storied "writing on the wall" that appear during Belshazzar's Feast in the book of Daniel, chapter 5. In the story, young, arrogant and dissolute King Belshazzar has succeeded to his father Nebuchadnezzar's rule over Babylonia (now, incidentally, known as Iraq). Heedless of the concerns of his ordinary subjects, Belshazzar throws a big self-adulatory private party for himself and his most favored cronies, and serves food and wine from the chalices and other treasures plundered from the Jerusalem Temple, at which point the cryptic writing suddenly appears on the palace wall. Belshazzar's inside circle of sycophantic advisors is stumped and sends for Nebuchadnezzar's wise old Hebrew counselor Daniel, who interprets the words: "MENE (meining "measure") -- your reign is measured and brought to an end; TEKEL (meaning "shekel" or "weigh") -- you are weighed in the scales and found wanting; PARSIN (meaning both "divide" and "Persian") -- your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persians."]