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Friday, January 21, 2011

Wilfrid Sheed 1930-2011

Wilfrid Sheed has died. He leaves behind a great array of writing and many loved ones. I didn't become acquainted with his work until after I'd met him. That was back in 1999-2000. He and his wife came here from Long Island to have Thanksgiving with his stepdaughter, who was a good friend and neighbor. I liked them both instantly but with my usual cluelessness had no idea what a celebrated wit and writer he was. His curious accent, part old-fashioned New York and part British, charmed me. He was on crutches due to his polio affliction but suffered no help from anyone, apart from allowing me to precede him downstairs. They returned for Christmas that year and once again he eschewed help over ice-covered stairs and a trecherous walkway. But his temper flared and dropped just as quickly.

He told us marvelous stories from his life experiences over lingering after-supper drinks. I could've listened to him for years on end. I won't repeat those stories here, it would dull them.

At some point his stepdaughter leant me a book of his, In Love with Daylight, in which he'd scribbled notes and re-edited himself. Our friendship eroded, I forgot I had this book, and only after I'd moved into this apartment did I realize I'd never returned it. Phoebe, if you read this, contact me so I can return it.

Bill, as everyone called him, was the kind of man you hope never leaves. He has now, for good, and my sympathies go to all who loved him. I wish I'd gotten to know him better.

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