Editor’s Page

Winter 2019

Dear Readers,

Loss and grief and gifts are much on my mind. My mother died on Election Day. She was 102. She was a rabble-rouser, a force of nature; hers was a life well lived. But not in her last years. She lost her vision and much of her hearing and a whole lot of her understanding. Still, she went on and on until I began to think of her as the Energizer Bunny. I had lost sight of my mother as a lifter of a defiant fist. I had trivialized her.

My mother lived in Santa Cruz (I live in New York City) and her community insisted on having a memorial for her, insisted on celebrating her life. I spoke; my daughter, Jen, spoke; my 12-year-old grandson, Oscar, spoke (he reminded us that his GiGi brought “a bit more goodness into the world”). More than 110 people, including local politicians, came to sing, read poems they had written about her, and remind us of the times she had marched and protested and been arrested for social justice in many countries.

Her friends gave me back my fierce, funny, extraordinary mother, the real Ruth Hunter. They gave me the gift of healing. For that I will be forever grateful.

Ruth Hunter at 98.

As Jean Zorn tells us in her introduction to our Short Takes section, Adieu, “our age cohort is … characterized by the steadily increasing number of final goodbyes we find ourselves having to say. Parents die, leaving us orphans at an age when one is too old to think of oneself as an orphan. Friends and lovers die. Those are the hardest, because it is true, so true, that each death diminishes me. Each death leaves a chasm where friendship and love and shared adventures used to be.”

As I said on my previous Editor’s Page, our dear friend Linda Boldt died this summer. Her friends and family organized a memorial for her, with a slide show of her whole not-long-enough life and with music and speeches, culminating in a video of Linda reading a short story she wrote for her writing group, “Waiting by the Phone.” The video was filmed under the clock in the very room in which we sat to remember and honor and love her. Thanks to YouTube, dear readers, you, too, can see it by clicking below.

Another gift of healing.
Warm thoughts to all of you, and best wishes for a better year in 2019.
Sue Leonard
p.s. The Persimmon Tree Editorial Board is looking for a volunteer to help with fundraising. Duties would include preparing 2 online fundraising appeals a year, keeping track of donations, and corresponding with donors. It would be best, but not essential, that you live in New York. If you are interested, please contact editor@persimmontree.org.


For 45 years, Sue Leonard taught every variety of history except American mostly at independent high schools for girls — with a brief stint in a poverty program school for pregnant teens in Bedford Stuyvesant. In the mid-nineties she and her late husband John Leonard were co-editors of the Books and Arts section of the Nation Magazine. Since retiring, Sue has filled up her days with reading, needlework, family, friends and long walks.