“Wicked” Rehabilitated the Reputation of Witches—I Will Now (Attempt to) Do the Same for Stepmothers

When your father announces at the age of 72 that he is remarrying it is natural to think, (among other things)

“Well, this could go either way…”

Outside my brain, the prevailing reaction was summed up by my friend’s two-year-old who, upon hearing I was getting a stepmother, said,

“Is she wicked?”

I am here to state, emphatically, that in my case the storybooks got it very, very wrong.

Why am I writing about my stepmother today?

Because she was admitted to the hospital last week with Covid 19 and passed away on Monday; and I am extraordinarily sad.

Over the 18 years I knew Offie (Her nickname was Offie; ask me about it when we see each other) she taught me endless lessons about fortitude, discretion, and grace—3 qualities in short supply anytime, and particularly in these times.

Over those years macular degeneration deprived her of driving and reading. She also broke her leg, her pelvis, her kneecap, her wrist and—I think—her pelvis, again.

Nevertheless, every single time I asked her how she was she said, “I’m very well thank you. How are you?”


While she could be cajoled into talking of the working cattle farm in upstate New York that she owned and co-managed until she was 91, it was only in the last two years that I learned she had had lunch with the Queen…twice.


And it was just last summer that, after pausing a trip upstate so she could have a full-body-7-hour blood transfusion, she responded to my suggestion that perhaps we shouldn’t set off for the farm at 8 p.m. with,

“Why not? I’m full of lovely new blood.”


What else? An unexpected, hilarious mimic; unfailingly tolerant (without being easygoing—a balancing act I doubt I’ll ever master;) endlessly interested in everyone and everything around her…

It’s unlikely I will meet anyone like Offie again. I am blessed beyond measure to have had her in my life. My hope is to keep her memory alive by exemplifying, in small ways, these qualities and so many, many more I admired.

I hope these stories inspire you to do the same.


For more on the value of fortitude, take a look at “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do”