Lois Lowry's Blog
Loss of a Friend
I've just been notified of the death this morning, in Denmark, of my dear friend Annelise Platt.
Here I am about 18 years ago (where does time go?!) with Annelise in the middle, and on her left, Middy Thomas, who later illustrated the Gooney Bird books.
Annelise was born in Copenhagen and grew up there but she came to the USA when she married an American whom she had met in Scotland. "I thought he was a locksmith," she said once. "He said he had gone to Yale. I thought it was a school for locksmiths."
Actually, he was a lawyer; and eventually he was a law partner of my then husband, and she and I became very close friends. Our kids grew up together and were friends as well. We took care of Torben's iguanas and boa constrictors (and my cleaning lady quit, because it it) when the Platts were out of town.
Time passed, and things changed. Years later, after the kids were grown, the iguanas were dead, we were both divorced and living, both of us, in the same apartment building on Beacon Hill, she and I took a vacation together. I had chosen the spot...Bermuda....and it looked good to her, in the brochures, and off we went. It was only after we were ensconced in a hotel on the water, unpacking, that she looked around, and said, "I think I've been here before." "Oh? When?" I asked. "On my honeymoon," she said.
Here she is in Bermuda:
It was during that trip that we talked a lot about our childhoods and our families when we were growing up. I had lost my only sister when we were young. So, it turned out, had she. I asked her how her sister had died, and she explained that she had been newly married, and pregnant....she was much older than Annelise....and had died, along with the baby, in childbirth. I was shocked. Denmark is a civilized country with an excellent health care system. How could that happen? It was during the war, Annelise said. We were occupied by the Nazis. Health care and nutrition were very poor then.
And it was then, in hearing what life had been like for a little girl living in a Nazi-occupied country, that my interest in telling the story of Denmark in 1943 began. Annelise was an enormous help in providing details...what would you have worn to school? What would a family dog be named? (And she prevented me from having the Danish mother in the book make an apple pie. "Haven't you ever heard the expression 'As American as apple pie?' " she asked) And she introduced me to people in Denmark who had been part of the Resistance.
She came to Chicago with me when NUMBER THE STARS received the Newbery Medal in 1990, and stood and waved to the crowd's applause when I introduced her to the audience.
When I took this picture we were on the Royal River in Yarmouth, Maine, in a friend's boat.
Later she went back to live the rest of her life in Denmark, and met Niels, the lovely man who became her partner for her remaining years and who was by her side this morning when she died. Martin and I visited them there several times. Her homes were always filled with color and paintings and laughter; and she will be missed by a great many people who loved her the way I did.
Looking through old photos, I found this one which shows her and Martin goofing off together. They both loved fun, and each other.
Goodbye, Annelise. Tusind tak.