Today the world lost Barbara Cook, a legendary Broadway performer and one of my favorites. I have always been starstruck, but I am always hit kind of hard by the loss of these people whom I never really knew but whom I admired and whose talents gave me so much joy. At 89, she only recently retired. I was fortunate to see her perform many times over the years. I wish I had seen her in “She Loves Me,” since it is one of my very favorite shows, but I am grateful for original cast recordings so I can listen to her.
Many years ago, Ms. Cook did a CD signing at Lincoln Center. I was so excited to actually meet her. I brought all of the CDs I had of hers and she was very gracious. She smiled so brightly when she saw “The Disney Album.” She said she hadn’t seen it in years. I explained that I played the cassette so often that it broke, and it was hard to find the CD! She asked what my favorite song was and I really couldn’t pick just one, but I asked if she had a favorite. She said it was hard for her to pick, too, but she thought it was probably, “When I See an Elephant Fly.” I always think of her when I hear that song. I was grateful to have had that sweet exchange, and to see the sparkle in her eye from that seeing the album.
Rest in peace, Barbara Cook. In my mind, you will definitely be leading a chorus of angels.
Thinking about that signing also conjures another dear memory. My aunt Eleanor took me to book signings when I was young, and I was always thrilled to meet famous and wildly talented people. I always think of my aunt as I continue what has become one of my favorite activities. When Eleanor’s Alzheimer’s advanced and she could no longer accompany me, I got books signed for her. We looked at the books together, which she enjoyed despite the changes in her memory, and I enjoyed because it let me step back in time and relate to her in a way that transcended the Alzheimer’s. I am tremendously proud of my collection of signed books and CDs, and proud to honor the relationship that I have maintained with my aunt.