- SIMONE KLUGMAN
January 14, 1922 – April 29, 2021
From the editor: Shortly after Simone turned 91, she accepted my invitation to create this blog. Here’s the reason she gave when, to my delight, she said yes.
“Not everyone can be Mozart or Darwin and live on and on, but we all like to leave a little something in other people’s minds…so I am giving a green light to making a blog.”
That bright light has guided us through over 200 posts during the last 7-1/2 years. Simone’s thinking and writing have given us all so much pleasure and insight….
In this edition of Simone Says, we begin the celebration of her life. In weeks ahead, we will republish some of her previous posts that still have a grip on us today.
A century ended today. My mother, who was a pillar of our family, died of a sudden heart attack this morning. She was an extraordinary person who had led an extraordinary life. She lived on three continents and spoke five languages fluently as well as bits of a few others. She had several careers, most notably her many years at the UC Berkeley Library, where she was a Reference Librarian and their first online searcher, back when no one knew what that meant. She survived her husband of 54 years, my father, by 23 years. She lived life on her own terms and knew exactly what she wanted. Of critical importance to her was that she not leave her home of 63 years in Oakland with her expansive Bay view. She got her wish.
She was a world citizen who influenced all her family, and she lives on in all of us. We all share a love of travel, reading, politics, writing, cooking, and critical thinking that we get from her. She would have wished to meet her great-grandchild, whom she loved dearly, but she at least got to meet him on FaceTime and in videos. He brought her much joy in her last year through his pictures, which she viewed on her computer. In her last years, she was known for her blog “Simone Says,” where she shared her views on many subjects. Glancing at it gives you an idea of the breadth of her interests. When I FaceTimed with her last Sunday she looked very much herself – cheery, pink-cheeked and interested in life.
Dina Cramer Manhattan Beach, California
My grandmother, Simone “Measle” Klugman died a good death this morning.
She wouldn’t have wanted any fuss made about her, so I’m not going to tell you about how she lived, what she did, etc.
I would like to share with you what I learned from her, and how she shaped me.
She showed me that it’s okay to live how you want to live. She just did what she wanted with her time and never fretted about if it was the “right” way to spend time. If she wanted to read, she read. If she wanted to go to the store, she went to the store. If she wanted to cook, she cooked. I never saw her worry about if she was doing the “right” thing or the “best” thing or the most productive thing…she was usually just content to do whatever thing she wanted to do.
I can hear her voice clearly saying, “what would I want with all that stuff?” whenever someone might suggest something to add to her home, or a device she might enjoy. Until the end of her life, she regularly went to the library to get books and return books, seeing no reason to buy them and clutter up her house. She was thin her entire life, never seeing a reason to eat a piece of food she didn’t need. Always content to stop the moment she was full. It wasn’t that she made a point of being frugal, she didn’t re-use plastic bags or wash tinfoil and hang it out to dry. Rather, she knew what was enough for her, and only wanted that much, and only had that much of anything. About 20 years ago, she did splurge. Her last car was a Mercedes, but it was the smallest, cheapest Mercedes they made at the time
She enjoyed whatever she could do when she could do it. When she could no longer drive, she gave up her car. When she could no longer handle an airport, she stopped traveling. When she could not walk so well, she had the rugs taken up from the house so she wouldn’t trip on them. And never once did I hear her complain, or lament what she had lost. She never seemed bothered by the changing levels of her function. She just enjoyed this moment, and her ability still to get to her backyard bird feeder and watch the birds.
I could go on for a while, and I’ll stop with this observation for today…through 99 years of life, she kept enjoying all the little things. A great olive. Pictures of my kitten Mittens. A bird playing in her yard. She never grew tired or weary of enjoying her everyday life.
The last time I spoke to her was about 7 weeks ago, she couldn’t hear very well, so what we ended out doing was mostly this – I put the iPad on the ground, and we followed Mittens around. He came up and sniffed the camera, wanted away to play, and we just watched him together, and she laughed and talked to him and enjoyed 15 minutes of cat time through the screen.
She lived a good, long, happy life in the way she wanted, and went out of it in the best way possible, staying in her quiet home at the top of 52 steps for over 60 years until her very last day on earth.
It’s exactly what she wanted, and she got it, and for that, I am very grateful.
Zachary Cramer, Portland, Oregon
The Editor again: We ask you, our appreciative readers, to submit your thoughts and memories of Simone directly to us. We will share them. We’ll also accept original writing that is in the spirit of Simone’s work or on topics she discussed.
Please send submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org