The Mysteries of Suzanne: Stylish Relics of Another Era (Finale)

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PS IMG_0004

Dr. Pierre & Suzanne

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Once they were married, Suzanne moved into Dr. Pierre’s elegant, old-world Park Avenue apartment. They were frequent guests at my parents’ parties and soirées. The Finkelpierre of legend morphed into a small, white-haired gentleman with fine manners and a very intellectual face. He was a doctor first and foremost, but also a scholar, poet, soldier, and historian. He loved Suzanne with all his heart, and when you saw them together the happiness they shared was palpable. Thirty years apart, she was fifty to his eighty when they finally legalized their involvement. He suffered a stroke a few years into the marriage, but with Suzanne’s good care, he lived to slightly over a hundred.

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PS Family with Suzanne & Chou Chou

My husband George and me with two of our children, Gaby & Julian, and Suzanne & her beloved Chou Chou

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During that time, my parents gave up their wonderful house in Gramercy Park and bought an apartment on Park Avenue, a few blocks south of Suzanne. My father and Dr. Pierre died within three years of one another in the early 90s and the two ladies continued, widows now, as best friends and confidantes for the rest of their lives — nearly another two decades.

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PS Middle Age Suzanne

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I depended on Suzanne more than on my mother for advice on men, clothes, health, marriage, jewelry, family vendettas, problems with my own children, and just plain daily living. She never judged, just listened quietly and then out would come a few wise pronouncements that invariably made me adjust my course.

As elderly ladies, both she and my mother were drop dead gorgeous. My mother, secretive and prone to flattery, allowed herself to be swindled, but that’s another story. Suzanne, charming and well-loved, had the protection of her son, his ex-wife and daughter. Both ladies lived to the end in their grand Park Avenue apartments, forgetful but not forgotten, stylish relics of another era.

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PS Mom Suzanne & Niece

My neice, Aly Teich, with my mother (center) & Suzanne

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At the time I wondered how many other elderly widows were hidden away up and down the avenue, ancient beauties like these two who had once determined their lives with so much drive and vigor. Suzanne grew quite mischievous with advanced age, pinching and slinging spitballs at her caregiver. Ultimately she refused food because she wanted to be with her Chou Chou. The last time I saw her, she told me: “I just want to die.” I knew she meant it. My mother, on the other hand, got stuck right before the exit and lingered in that half world until, in an enlightened moment, I advised her to “go to the light.” From the expression on her face, I saw this made total sense to her. She died in her sleep not long after, leaving me and my sister to bitter sibling battles that tore our families apart and wasted the time we could have loved each other for several years to come.

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PS Suzanne Original Photo

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