Patrice is the child of a German Jew who fled Germany in his 13th year. Seven years later he returned, an American infantryman packing heat, to denazify Germany. Her mother, whose family’s Pomeranian estate the Soviet Army dispossessed, married this all-powerful American army one-striper. The marriage made not in heaven, but in post-war Berlin, ended a few years later in post-war Japan.
Raised on tales from The Brothers Grimm, the Talmud and Midrash in the air of a Bronx neighborhood and those of Suzuki Bean and Patrick Dennis in the New York public school system, she has multiple personalities––some kindly, others sharp-tongued, none disordered and all blisteringly quick-witted––accompanied by an assortment of fairies and spirits. An anecdote to illustrate––We are in the car beginning a trip West. I am looking at the map. Patrice barks into the back seat, “Quiet down, all of you, for Pete’s sake until I merge at least.” I quietly turn the page of the Rand McNally. One of the fairies, subdued for a moment, turns back the map page. We hadn’t yet crossed the state-line.
I acknowledge her specialness as in Proverbs 31:13-27, grant the truth of the German ausdrucke, Der größte Schatz, den ein Mann besitzen kann, ist eine Frau, die sparen kann. But so much more, she tells stories. And I steal them.