Starting ballet at four, I was a model at five and an actress at six. At sixteen when I enrolled at Pasadena Community College, my life seemed pretty well planned. But then I had a big oops. By nineteen, I was the mother of two.
I returned to college when Lorin was five and Steven four. Ten years later I was awarded a Ph.D. in psychology. Life had gotten back on track.
Although I worked prior to completing my degrees, secretary, bank clerk, and typist, once I earned my Masters degree, I began teaching. I've been an adjunct at East Los Angeles Community College, Golden West Community College, and Whittier College, President Richard Nixon's alma mater. I've also carried out institutional research both at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, CA. and for the Client Assistance Program, a pilot project of the California State Department of Rehabilitation.
From the time I turned eight, I'd wanted to leave Southern California. So with PhD. in hand, I headed to the Midwest.
Missouri wasn't the place of my dreams. Connecticut was. But my husband, Sheldon Gardner, Ph.D. (1934-2005) -- we met when I took his class in Child Development at California State University at Los Angeles -- said he'd go where ever I wanted.
Reversing the song, California Here I Come, we headed to Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri State University.
The four years I spent there were productive. Sheldon and I opened a bookstore. We co- authored two volumes of The Women of Psychology. The Care and Cultivation of Parents had been published the year we arrived in Missouri. We also collaborated on several journal articles and other professional publications.
When I had the opportunity, I left the Midwest, accepting a position at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Sheldon moved his private practice. And we were fortunate enough to purchase a 1853 Victorian house in downtown Mystic.
In 2003, while visiting Saint Simons Island, GA, Sheldon and I impulsively purchased a new blue Victorian. His post-polio syndrome made living in Connecticut winters increasingly more difficult.
Sheldon, to whom I had been blissfully married for 34 years -- he also adopted my two children-- died suddenly of cardiac arrest as we were making love on 24 November 2005. Needless to say, I was devastated.
In retrospect, I'll always be glad I took a sabbatical spring of 2005. Otherwise he wouldn't have had the opportunity to live, even for a short time, on Saint Simons.
Not wanting to stay in Connecticut, in September of 2006, I retired from CGA and moved to Saint Simons. Desperate to make sense of my loss, I wrote Bereavement and Personality, Weaving a Life.
Needing structure in my new life, I became an adjunct professor at the College of Coastal Georgia and Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Searching for a spiritual connection, I became a certified yoga teacher and Buddhist.
In addition, I felt driven to finish the memoir Sheldon had started.
. . . Growing up Jewish in an Italian neighborhood outside of Boston, the first son of Philip and Goldie, Sheldon learned about discrimination early. At six years of age, two Irish thugs accosted him in a park. He was saved by another Irish lad. "Don't you know his grandfather's Goombah Luigi?" the lad asked the other two thugs. "Best not to mess with him."
Goombah Luigi, was known for having special powers. He held seances, cured people, and distributed elixirs and prophylactics.
Goombah Luigi's Grandson (Oakley Publishing, 2010) isn't the book Sheldon would have written. But it is, I hope, a loving tribute.