Nora Ephron Dead at 71

Last night, Nora Ephron died of complications from the blood disorder myelodysplasia . Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve probably watched her movies or read her books and essays. She was best known for her romantic comedies, but Silkwood was hers, too. She wrote the screenplays for Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You’ve Got Mail. Her last film was Julie and Julia. My son and daughter-in-law gave the DVD to me for Christmas.

Turning lemons into lemonade seems to have been one of her many talents. She wrote a book, Heartburn, about her divorce from Carl Bernstein; Meryl Streep played her in the movie.  A lot of nice things have been said about her today by those who knew her well. I only knew her through her work. With her words and wit and humor, she made me laugh and cry and think.

Maybe you found her movies a little saccharine, but I was an all out sucker for them. I liked the way she wrote her men. All too often, women fall for the hottie bad boy in real life and in the movies. Nora wrote men for women who had smartened up enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. They were funny and gentle, not perfect, but still trying to figure it all out.

I find that as I get older, I feel sadder than I once did when an entertainer or writer or artist who has entertained me over the years dies. I don’t know. I think it’s more of a loss now than it was before. Maybe it’s that I don’t take escape from the woes of the world so lightly anymore. And escape I did… whenever I watched a Nora Ephron film. So everyone can talk about how decisive and political and talented and smart and generous she was, and about how even those who disagreed with her genuinely liked and respected her. I can’t attest to any of that, but she entertained me for decades, and that’s something.

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