E-mails From Susan, Part III
Date: Thursday February 1 01:11 1996
Cris Derrick Adds a Tribute to Susan
Here's Cris' e-mail that was to
everyone read at Susan's eulogy... thanks, Cris...
I did not know Susan, she did not know me.
I joined rfc shortly before she was hospitalized. I was able to see the
wit and sensitivity and the joy of life she shared. I followed your
ups/downs with the transplant faithfully and was deeply saddened to hear
that Susan had finally reached the end of this journey. I would like to
share with you the words to a song, sung by the folk singer Holly Near.
These words have gotten me through the many losses I have recently faced
(12 deaths in 5 years).
They are falling all around me,
strongest leaves of my tree.
Every paper bring the news that,
teachers of my sounds are moving on.
Death comes and rests so
Your face I'll never see, I'll never see you any more.
you're not gonna really leave me,
It is your path that I walk,
your song that I sing,
It is your load that I take on,
It is your
air that I breath,
It's the record that you set that makes me go
It's your strength that helps me stand
You're not really, you're
not really gonna leave me.
I will try to sing my song right,
to let me hear from you.
By Bernice Johnson Reagon
you, Andreas, and to Susan
From: Mo Miller
February 2 00:47 1996
Subject: Eulogy for Susan
(Read by Mo
Miller at Susan's funeral and posted to the update list)
You celebrated life in a way I only vaguely
understood. We met in 1979 when I started working at Thompson &
Associates. I moved into your office, the upstairs room in an old
Victorian house. You were working on some kind of health policy
legislation. ( I never understood what that was, but it involved all kinds
of hearings, advocacy and research.) I immediately liked your sense of
humor and no-nonsense approach. You gave me the run-down on everybody in
the office, all before lunch. We became good friends. We both had cats. We
both enjoyed good cheap food and searching for the best "dives" to attain
it. We went to the 524 club, El Charro We liked to go to Melarkey's or
Club 400 or some other night spot and hear your favorite bands, like
Little Charlie and the Nightcats, and Henry Robinette. We went to hear the
Charlie Peacock band back when everybody thought he would be really
Every Spring you had a big party. You called it your
"anniversary". It was to celebrate another year of your remission from
Hodgkin's disease. One year you had the party at your mother's house. This
was not just a party - it was a blowout. People came in droves, from
everywhere. You served a feast - a whole smoked salmon, roast beef, a
million salads, cheese, beer, wine, fruit. People were dancing on the
lawn, in the house, everywhere. You loved to dance.
I didn't think
there was anything ordinary about you, and I liked that. You broke all the
molds with such a classy sense of humor it was impossible not to admire
you. I was always impressed at the way you could, and would, wear the most
outrageous outfits. Lamay, sequins, sparkly shoes - solid aluminum
butterfly glasses. From my shy point of view this was a message of
courage, of sheer unremorseful individuality. I hardly dared to
I wondered many times what it was like, to have had cancer and
known your days were so precious. To have suffered the uncertainty of your
survival. How you must have viewed your life in remission - five years of
waiting; five years of not knowing if it would come back. In that context
your inexhaustible sense of humor and joy for life was beyond my
understanding, but not beyond my being incredibly inspired by you.
through this challenge, you went on to achieve so much more. You lived in
San Francisco for a couple of years. You lived not far from me and we saw
each other occasionally. We both worked in the Marina - you at the
Exploratorium and I at Fort Mason. Of course we found some good cheap
restaurants to go to, but here there was much more variety - Vietnamese,
Cuban, Greek, all kinds. I couldn't believe it but you bought my old
egg-colored Datsun for $100. I thought it was a great deal - that rusted
heap was so beaten up it wouldn't go into second gear and had a patch of
live grass growing in the carpet (owing to balmy moist SF weather and the
greenhouse effect of permanently closed windows). But just to prove a
point that damn car went on to give you several thousands of miles of
dutiful service anyway - a fact that you loved, I suppose because it
refused to give up even when others had given up on it. I know you
identified with that car's will to survive. And I learned a valuable
By the time we both moved back to Sacramento you were starting
law school. Law school! Now your penchant for defying odds was taking on a
whole new dimension. It wasn't enough that you held the world's record in
terms of personal uniqueness. You had no money, and had to work while
going to school This schedule would challenge a Rhodes scholar. You had to
pace yourself because the effects of the cancer treatments left you with
only 50% of normal lung capacity. You would get exhausted, but somehow
managed to keep up with your studies, yoga, and working part-time. You
found time to dedicate yourself to a string of causes including the effort
to save an historic apartment building.
We saw each other less often,
but when we did it was like no time was lost at all. You were always full
of good gossip, great stories, and bitingly funny commentary on all the
issues of the day. There were times when I thought you were too cynical,
but then you had already lived twice the life I had, so I respected your
attitude as the voice of unique experience.
I came to your wedding -
another bombshell on the landscape of convention. You were married at the
same place I was, only the date was significantly different. You were
married to Andreas on October 31 in a bold red dress, looking very
beautiful. As one would have expected, the party was a big one and the
food was superb.
Through all the changes in my life and yours, we
always found it easy to connect. I think it was because you were always
ready for action and interested in new stories, new information, people
and conversation. The Internet was made for you. It is wonderful that that
world has responded so lovingly to you and Andreas during your final
struggle. The positive messages of hope and love have been a source of
strength for you both, and I hope they will continue to help Andreas as he
struggles on without you. I miss you very much Susan. I hope you know how
much your life has meant to all of us. You taught us so much about how to
live. Thank you.
(and Lisa, Jay and the
From: Ray Bruman
Date: Friday February 2 00:50
Subject: Memories of Susan
Memories of Susan Hattie
Those of us who were able to attend the funeral service for
Susan heard some remarkable things. I'll recount some here for the rest of
us. After traditional recitations from the Song of Solomon, the 23rd
Psalm, and the books of Job and Ecclesiastics, we heard personal eulogies,
some of which were read from articles posted on the Net. I won't repeat
those pieces (they are available) but will point out how the caliber of
the writers and their writing are themselves a tribute to
Susan's sister-in-law gave us a moving impression of what it was
like to marry into this amazing family. First, it seems that everyone is
doctors and lawyers, and then when you go to Susan's parties, you meet an
astounding array of other diverse people. She quoted "To know someone well
you need only look at the people she calls her friends." Many of us who
met Susan on the Internet know that wisdom.
Susan's sister told what it
was like to grow up with Susan as the oldest of four kids. She was
dominant, and the younger ones competed for her approval. (This will come
as no surprise to her Internet friends!) Susan tackled Hodgkin's disease,
won that battle, and then went on to put herself through law school,
regarding major medical disabilities as mostly nuisances. Even when it was
her life in danger, she told other people "Don't be scared. It's gonna be
all right." It's important to know that she planned and expected to come
out of this heart transplant triumphant, and she never even knew that it
didn't work out that way. In the words of her sister, "She was cool --
Her body did fail her, and we had to go bury it in the
House of Peace cemetery in Sacramento. To make it a little easier, we also
buried some other treasures; her sparkly shoes, pictures of her cats, and
her favorite Henckel kitchen knife. The burial part is really, really hard
to do. Once you have done it, you will never be able to say rash things
like "My life is my own alone, so if I want to... [fill in the blank here]
it's just my decision." You affect a lot of other people, whether you
remember that or not.
The rabbi for the service said that his career
had included periods as a cantor, as a chef (how appropriate!) and as a
hospice chaplain. That's a job where you are forced to realize that
everyone in this room is dying. All of us. Now, what are you going to do
to make every second magnificent?
Life is like a schoolhouse where we
are each both student and teacher. What did Susan teach you?
real courage to speak at the service. Some of the people giving eulogies
had a hard time speaking. It was important to listen not just to their
words, but to our own reactions as we heard their stories.
has a voice within us. You can hear it if you listen to your own reactions
when you hear these eulogies. There are going to be plenty of times when
you feel bleak and empty. When that happens, talk to Susan.
felt obliged to add this admonition: "One warning -- be prepared for an
answer." Those of us who knew Susan were ready for that.
From: Dan Flynn
Date: Friday February 2 00:58
Subject: Sacramento Bee Story about Susan
Bee, 1/31/96, p. B1
A WEB OF FRIENDS LEARNS OF HER DEATH
"We are sad to report that the battle is over."
that, thousands of users on Internet's World Wide Web learned that
Sacramento lawyer Susan Steinsapir's closely watched struggle for life had
ended at UCLA Medical Center.
She died Monday, nine days after
receiving a heart transplant -- and nearly three weeks after her own
hospital room home page was posted on the Internet.
"Susan is in a
better place now, but before she died, she was constantly amazed at the
outpouring of lover and support she received from this worldwide Internet
community," the Web page message said.
Using a laptop with modem from
her hospital room, she and her husband, Andreas Ramos, tapped out frequent
updates to the home page, "A Heart for Susan," at
Steinsapir received a heart
Jan. 21, but died of complications about 1 p.m. Monday.
By the time
she died, there had been nearly 12,000 visits to the home page, which was
set up by Internet friend Mimi Hiller on Jan. 10. Hiller met Steinsapir a
year ago on an electronic bulletin board for cooking and recipes called
rec.food.cooking. They met face to face for the first time last
Suffering from congestive heart failure, Steinsapir qualified
for a heart transplant last summer. She was rushed to Los Angeles by air
ambulance in late December after being hospitalized in Sacramento.
of Steinsapir's impending transplant spread so fast on the Internet that
Hiller decided that a Web Site would be the best way to get the word
"I've gotten so many (electronic) letters from people thanking me
for what I've done, Hiller said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I'm
drained by the loss of my friend, but not from what I did. We're leaving
the site up. One of the reasons... is to heighten awareness of the need
for organ donations."
Since her death, there have been nearly 500
additional visits to the Web site, Hiller said.
While in the hospital,
Steinsapir received e-mail and cards from well-wishers in every state of
the union as well as many foreign countries.
Andreas Ramos, a Sacramento- based computer consultant, sent a message
addressed "Dear Everyone" on her e-mail Monday morning. "I placed her
wedding ring on her hand, kissed her and washed her face," he
wrote. "We'll remove the tubes...then we'll turn off the machines." "She
is dying without pain. She looks so lovely."
Susan Hattie Steinsapir
was born in Sacramento on Feb. 26, 1955, the daughter of Janet Pollens
Steinsapir and the late Leon J. Steinsapir, a physician. She was a 1972
graduate of C.K. McClatchy High School.
While a student at University
of California, Davis, her studies were interrupted when she was stricken
with Hodgkin's disease. But the disease went into remission after she
underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In 1980, she graduated
from UC Davis with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Attending evening
classes, she graduated with a law degree from McGeorge School of Law in
She practiced law for the elderly, which includes probate and
family law matters. She also was known for her avid interest in cooking.
She enjoyed trying new restaurants and collecting cookbooks.
cookbooks the way other people read novels," said longtime friend Anne
In addition to her husband, Steinsapir is survived by her
mother, who resides in Sacramento; a sister, Ellen Steinsapir of San
Diego; and two brothers, Kenneth and Steven Steinsapir, both of Los
Services will be at 2 p.m. today at Home of Peace Chapel, 6200
From: Kay Hartman
Date: Thursday, 1 February
Subject: Breaking My Silence
Let me tell you something that happened while I was eating
dinner with Susan in the hospital. For dinner we ate pumpkin soup, home
made bread, and Not a Nicoise Salad. For dessert we had chocolate
truffles. Susan really seemed to be enjoying the meal. She especially
liked the vast quantities of butter in everything. The room reeked of
garlic. Ken showed up with Bonnie, his girlfriend.
Of course, Susan
said that she didn't like sweets but wanted to see what kind of dessert I
brought. Well, truffles. She would eat one. She took a truffle and ate it
little by little, cutting off slices with a scalpel we borrowed from her
While eating our truffles, Bonnie was telling a story of
their wine and food trip to Napa. Conversation was light and lively.
During the telling of this story, the gurney from the morgue appeared in
that area outside Susan's room. Susan said that she always wondered how
that was done.
The appearance of the gurney caused all conversation to
stop. Susan told us that a man in the CCU died that day. He was not
expected to die. His family was there when it happened. There was all
sorts of running around and general excitement and upsetness.
at each other awkwardly. Susan asked Bonnie to continue her story. She
didn't seem to want to. It didn't seem appropriate. We looked at each
other. Susan looked at us and said, "Life goes on." Bonnie gingerly
restarted her tale.
And so, life does go on. We know this because we
are left with the pain.
With all of our love.
Date: Friday February 2 01:50 1996
Jupiter People and the Rug Worms
Susan spent quite some time on the
rec.pets.cats newsgroup in 1994 and once wrote this posting; it was one of
her favorites. The Jupiter People have joined net lore. It's Classic
From: Susan Hattie Steinsapir 27 Apr 1994
Subject: Jupiter people and rug worms
can't figure out where my original posting about Jupiter People and rug
worms went - somewhere out there into the ether. Maybe the NSA and CIA
captured it for further analysis. Anyway, this is a topic I've considered
and studied for years....
Many of you write about your cats behaving in
inexplicable ways. All of the sudden, the cat will just me-yowl at
something you can't see. Your cat may just stare at what looks like a
blank spot on the wall. He or she may be peacefully ambling across the
carpet, when they suddenly jump up as if something bit them on their toes.
They'll watch a blank, turned off, stone cold television.
What is it
ghosts? Poltergeists? Nah, these would bother you as well. Cats are very
sensitive, particularly their hearing, and ability to smell. What the cat
sees is a Jupiter person or a rug worm.
These are two different
entities. First, the Jupiter People, as the name implies, come from space.
Jupiter is a huge planet with lots of gravity, so the Jupiter people are
tiny. It's a known fact that many cats are really space aliens. So, natch,
they'd be able to spot another of their own kind pretty quickly. We,
unless we also pick up radio waves in our dental fillings, just don't have
the perceptual ability to see these critters. Cats have a sense of
responsibility, so they want to keep an eye on the Jupiter People and make
sure they don't occupy the cat's favorite napping spot or interfere in
your getting dinner ready for the cat. The Jupiter People do tend to taunt
and annoy the cat; this is why the cat may just cry out for no apparent
reason to you. Just reassure the cat.
Jupiter People are often the root
cause of really mischievous cat behavior. I'm afraid to say that this is
more likely to happen to a cat whose space alien side is well-developed.
It's sort of like right and left- handed brain stuff in us humans. That's
why it's pointless to punish a cat after it knocks over the really
expensive vase your aunt Teresa left you. The Jupiter People have a known
affinity for entropy; thousands of little Ming vase shards are an energy
system which brings them pleasure. They have merely used your cat as a
type of catalyst (of course, no pun is intended).
are known portals of entry and exit for Jupiter people. This explains why
cats will stare at a blank TV screen. Big convoy of Jupiter People going
through, the cat must watch.
Rug worms are another matter. I discovered
rug worms after Jerry, my now deceased blonde cat, would just leap
suddenly while walking across a carpeted surface. He never did this on
linoleum or wood floors. Tile floors are safe, too. Well, it turns out
that there are these little critters, invisible to the human eye, or even
a scanning electron microscope, which live in rugs. If the cat walks past
a nest of rug worms, they seek to defend their territory. The rug worms
rise up and bite the cat on the paw; this is why they jump.
Many of you
may have noticed that your cat hates the vacuum cleaner. It seems that you
only have to drag it out, and the cat is making for cover. No, it's not
the whine, the high frequency sounds, that bother the cat. Jupiter People
and rug worms hate the vacuum cleaner because it disturbs their
activities. They become really annoyed. They know we can't see them, so
they attack the cat in an effort to get our attention. Our feline
companion is a mere cat's paw in their nefarious attempts to keep us from
cleaning the house. Remember, Jupiter People like entropy and rug worms
don't want to be rustled out of their nests in the carpet. The vacuum is
the sworn enemy of entropy and completely trashes the ecology of the
I'll consult my files for more notes about Jupiter People and
rug worms. But now that you're aware, many things will make more sense.
And, if you pick up radio waves in your dental fillings, no, I will not
represent you in your lawsuit against the CIA to stop it.
Date: Friday February 2
Subject: Susan in the Houston Chronicle
following article about Susan appeared in the Houston Chronicle,
SAD END FOR 'NET RECORD OF WOMAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE
Susan Hattie Steinsapir died Monday morning in a Los
Angeles hospital, ending a life-and-death chronicle followed by thousands
on the Internet.
Steinsapir's struggle with heart disease -- and then
her attempt to recover from a heart transplant -- were the subjects of a
page on the World Wide Web that was looked at by Internet users more than
11,000 times over the past three weeks.
"A Heart for Susan" -- located
at http://www.smartlink.net/~hiller/susan/ -- has resulted in thousands of
e-mail messages to Mimi Hiller, who has managed the site since its
inception in early January.
"I get about 500 letters a day," said
Hiller. "They are coming in faster than I can read them."
Internet's World Wide Web, which lets users view pictures, hear sounds and
read text, has become a new avenue for self- expression, and the "A Heart
for Susan" page is a dramatic example of the trend.
Steinsapir died at
UCLA Medical Center after two operations Sunday to stop massive internal
bleeding. She received her new heart on Jan. 21.
"I placed her wedding ring on her hand, kissed her, and washed her face," wrote
Steinsapir's husband, Andreas Ramos, on a message posted on the Internet
Monday morning. "We'll remove the tubes from her mouth and wash her face.
Then we'll turn off the machines."
Steinsapir, who was 40, was an
attorney in Sacramento, Calif., and a regular on a discussion group on the
Internet devoted to cooking.
After Steinsapir became ill late last
year, Hiller began posting updates to the rec.food.cooking group. That
later turned into a Web page, where the daily dispatches on Steinsapir's
wait for a heart donor could be archived.
The site includes entries
from Steinsapir; her husband, who writes computer books; Hiller and her
husband, J.B.; and other friends.
The page details Steinsapir's ups and
downs over a three-week period, with the most dramatic beginning with the
day she learned she would be getting a new heart.
"01:20 a.m. One of
the doctors from the transplant team came in," Ramos wrote on Jan. 21.
"Susan has to give an informed consent, to agree to what they are going to
do. He's a big fellow, unshaven, with a grin and a Tennessee accent. He
looks up and says, "Are you a lawyer? Uh, oh ..."
Susan says. "That's
right. You better cure me or kill me, or I'll sue!"
He starts off.
"We're going to perform a heart transplant. That means that we will
remove your heart.' Susan says "Whoa! Nobody told me about this part!'
Steinsapir was a high-risk transplant patient, according to an entry
from Ramos four days after the operation. She had radiotherapy treatment
20 years ago that damaged her lung and part of her chest cavity and that
may have contributed to her difficulties.
The operation lasted about
five hours. Steinsapir began bleeding internally shortly afterward. The
entries from Jan. 25 on show that she was in an almost steady
By the entry for late Sunday night, the situation was
"Susan's sedation has been stopped. After 12 hours (to clear the
sedation from her system), she'll be tested for neurological response,"
wrote Ramos. "An EEG test will determine her brain activity. If there is
any response, her doctors will maintain her on support until the heart has
a chance to recover. She's too weak for another transplant. If there is
brain damage, well ... Susan and I talked about this several times in the
past year. She doesn't want to live with brain damage. I've held her hand
and talked to her and caressed her face and kissed her. The poor girl. I'm
so scared. I love her very much. Please pray for her."
Steinsapir wanted the "Have a Heart for Susan" page to be used to urge
others to consider being organ donors.
"We would tell her that she was
getting all these cards and letters and pictures, and she said, "If people
want to give me something, tell 'em to send me their photocopied donor
Hiller posted that suggestion to the Web page, and copies of
newly signed donor cards began to arrive in the mail, she
Steinsapir was one of three transplant patients to receive a new
heart on the same day at UCLA Medical Center. A few days after her
operation, while she was still unconscious, Ramos met one of the other
" ... He was awake Sunday night and out of bed by Tuesday,"
he wrote. "Today he went for a long walk up and down the hospital
corridor. He expects to be released by Saturday. ... He says that he has
very little pain and he feels great. I look forward hearing the same from
From: Alice Englander
Date: Monday February 5
Subject: Radio Show About Susan
talked to the Radionet folks and they are going to do Susan's story
tomorrow morning (Sun. 2/4)! (In case you missed my earlier posts, this
is a Net-related radio show out of Santa Cruz.)
The show is called
Radionet and it's on KSCO 1080 AM, Santa Cruz, CA. I will call in just
after 11:30 am (PST) for a 10-15 minute talk with them.
They told me
that they record and digitize all the shows so folks who have/understand
that technology can pick up shows from the Net (after the fact of course).
I don't know the details but they have a URL (http://www.radionet.com)
which will provide appropriate information or tell you how to find
I'll be back for the wake this afternoon.
Date: Monday February 5 22:45
Subject: A Map to Susan's Wake
For those with web
browsers, there's a map to our home at xyz
If you don't have a graphical
browser and can't figure out Ray's directions, just get to Sacramento,
find the State Capitol, and ask someone how to get to Sutter's Fort. We're
three blocks away from it at 817 27th St.
Bring food, drinks, musical
instruments, or your favorite memory of Susan.
The virtual wake will be
on the newsgroup rec.food.cooking, Susan's favorite newsgroup, Saturday,
Feb. 3rd., your time zone. Share your favorite food with your favorite
person and join us around the planet.
Date: Sunday February 4 22:51
Subject: Susan's Wake - Dunedin, New Zealand
three of my best friends in this town, Andrew (the person who wrote the
poem I mailed), Felicity and her boyfriend Mark joined my fiancee and I in
our home. We ate goat's milk brie, cracked pepper pate and rice crackers,
accompanied by Two Oceans 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. The wine is from
South Africa, and is grown right on the Cape of Good Hope, between the
Atlantic and Indian Oceans. We followed this a bit later with some caramel
chocolate cake and Costa Rican coffee. We laughed, we debated, we played
with the kitten, we talked about how much we appreciated each other. We
toasted Susan's life and wisdom. Best of all, we enjoyed each other's
company. I still feel sad about her death, but now it's easier for me to
be glad I knew her.
I think Susan would be pleased.
From: Debbie Lake
Date: January 30, 1996
Subject: Susan Hattie Steinsapir
As I sit here at 2:30
in the morning reading this post tears stream down my face for a woman I
never knew. I joined this newsgroup after Susan Hattie had already been
admitted to the hospital and yet I feel as though I lost someone I knew.
Please give my love to Andreas. Like many others on this newsgroup I too
have lost loved ones but I have never had to watch them fight any
lingering illness. I can't even imagine the toll it has taken on Andreas.
Let him and his family know they will be in my
From: Mary Frye
Date: Monday February 5
Subject: Memories of Susan
The modem at work was
down over the weekend so on Monday it was with dread when I started
reading the mail messages. My cat, the widdlest pud, was on my lap when I
read Andreas' message that Susan had passed on. I've nicknamed her Hattie
(hope Andreas and Susan won't mind), as she caught the tears. My aunt
always says that in her next life she is coming back as a lap cat. Who
knows... those of us with puds... nah... if she does come back as a cat
she'll end up on Andreas' doorstep begging for roasted lamb marinated in
yogurt with garlic :- ).
From everything I have read, Susan and Andreas
have a wonderful love that crosses the borders of life and death. And they
are so lucky to have that.
I was always amazed at her bravery and how
she accepted her physical limitations and found a way to express herself
through the net and help others. She is truly a woman to be respected and
loved (as all of us still do). And her sense of humor was, to me,
indicative of her love of life. As several of you had said, she lived each
day to the fullest. Our e-mail correspondence was great. The first time
she returned e-mail, I was like a little kid, "Hattie responded to me,
WOW!" She helped me understand some of the etiquette in this environment.
Which was wonderful.
We also exchanged cat stories. Which I would tell
the puds. Hey guess what Dash did today (or whenever). The puds would like
to thank ray, and whomever else, for taking care of Susan and Andreas'
She first told me her story was when I mentioned that my mom had
had breast cancer and though considered cured, had spinal problems from
the chemicals she received during chemo. Susan, having been there, had
some wonderful encouraging words for me, and I felt bad because here I was
blubbering about my mom, who is in pretty good shape, when Susan had been
through so much and still had such a tough road ahead.
Susan, in many
ways reminds me of my grandmother (maternal), who, as we in the family,
used to joke, was a "tough old Jew" (even though she became a christian
when she married a 2nd time). She died a year ago on August 1st (at 87).
She had a very hard life, but was one of the strongest women I'll ever know or ever come to respect. And I'll miss her the rest of my life, like
Susan. Dody was always there when I needed her, and always had the words of wisdom that were always correct for the situation. I think very few of
the family really understand the kind of woman she was. But I think we all
know the kind of woman Susan was. Silly as it sounds, I've asked Dody to
watch for her, and between them, they will rearrange the angels :-). Not
to mention cook up some of the best Persian food in heaven (Dody's 2nd
marriage was to a Persian fellow, who loved comedy too).
It is always
sad when someone we love dies. Because we are the ones left behind to deal
with the grief and how to go on. I think Andreas will go on, he and Susan
were one and he has his own and her strength. He is a wonderful person. To
have shared the intimate details of their ordeal was a real gift, it made
many of us realize how precious life and loving is.
I feel that God
needs his angels, and though it may pain us greatly, he takes his angels
when he needs them, or when he feels they have suffered or will suffer too
Susan is in a better place, in my mind, and she is happy. She
will see Andreas, when his time comes.
So don't be sad. She is safe and
From: Andreas Sunday February 6 20:52
Subject: Susan's Wake in Sacramento...
(thanks to Ray,
who helped with parts of this...)
Susan Hattie Steinsapir's Wake was
held on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Some 75 people came.
Mary Frye sent
a package from Maryland which arrived just in time to share at the wake.
It had photos of a Get Well Cook-In which many friends from
rec.food.cooking held for Susan. She sent lots of photos of them gathered
around a GET WELL banner for Susan ("Let's Get Cooking!") and a wonderful
cake in the shape of an oven. Mary sent the signed banner and some of the
cake decorations; the oven's door and grille, and the little model tea
kettle that had sat on top of the stove cake.
Michelle Campbell also
held a wake in New Zealand with friends; she sent an e-mail which arrived
as we were gathered here.
On the mantle in the living room, photographs
of Susan's happiest days: her graduation from law school and our wedding,
were surrounded by lit candles.
On the other side of the room was our
8-foot Christmas tree, decorated with lights, pomegranates, ribbons,
ornaments, and little glass hearts. We had left suddenly for the hospital
in early January and no one had taken down the Christmas tree. Susan
wanted a Christmas tree very much this year; in early December, we went up
to the Sierra Nevadas and got a very large one.
rec.food.cooking brought a spectacular collection of food: the plates of
food overflowed the kitchen counters, tables, and stove top. There were
ice chests with beer and wine and more arrived all afternoon. Ray Bruman
wrote up a menu of what was served:
Appetizers: A wonderful cheese
plate, Cabrales cheese from Spain, salt-cured olives, smoked salmon on
crusty bread and crackers, Caponata eggplant dip, terrine pate, Susan's
goat-cheese torta, and another creamy torta with sun-dried tomatoes and
Entrees: Tunisian beans with chard, Wild rice with
artichoke salad, a roasted ham, frittata, Spanish rice from the Vallejo's
restaurant itself, and California State Fair tacos, both
Desserts: Gingerbread with apples, caramel sauce and
zabaglione, chocolate truffles both plain and with Grand Marnier, Shoo-fly
pie, Anne's famous brownies, kiwi- strawberry custard pie, lemon cake,
chocolate chip cookies from New Roma bakery, Ganache cake with violets on
top, Boston cream pie, pumpkin bread, miniature coconut shortbread
Drinks: Champagne and other wines from France and California,
Pete's Winter Brew, a whole cooler of Henry Weinhard's beer, Sierra Nevada
Pale Ale, Bushmill's Irish whiskey, sodas and of course,
People wore name tags, since many had never met. Amongst
strangers, one was stranger than most. She claimed to have been a close
friend of Susan in law school and even to have known Susan's father and
visited the same psychiatrist as he did. But... I'd never heard of her and
Susan's father never went to a psychiatrist. Apparently, the woman had
seen the article in the newspaper and showed up, pretending to be a
friend. She left after only an hour or so. She had better walk carefully.
Susan'll fling a lightning bolt out of a clear sky.
Ellen told stories, such as what it was like to try to do food shopping
for Susan. Not only must the strawberries be from the farmer's market,
and only from Harry's Berries, but they must be the ones from Watsonville,
not Castroville (or was it the other way round?)
The computer was on
and sometimes logged in to rec.food.cooking, but we mostly talked with
each other. We did read out some of the messages from around the globe,
but we didn't send messages; people found it more suiting to talk with
Everyone gave me hugs and many laughed and some cried. I
still feel numb and devastated; I don't have much appetite and only
nibbled at food. But it's a very nice tradition for people to bring food
over; I'd otherwise not eat at all and now there's lots of stuff in the
fridge, so I live on ham & cheese sandwiches, chocolate pie, beer, and
various salads. The four cats are happy; we usually gave them four cans
per day but now I often give them another can or two. Poor cats, only one
person now to talk to them and scratch their chins.
People stayed until
midnight and several stayed over. My cats eventually came out of hiding,
although Theia, the Danish cat, loved to hang around the kitchen and mooch
for salmon spread. On Sunday morning, Anne Bourget and Sam invited people
over for breakfast.
Sunday afternoon, Ray stayed to help with cleaning
up. He took down the Christmas tree (we debated leaving it up...). We
began the huge job of sorting out Susan's things.
So... cards continue
to trickle in; florists come and drop off more flowers; friends call;
donations have been made in Susan's name to the American Heart
Association, which is a major researcher into heart disease, and to a
grove of Redwood trees here in California.
I've begun to sleep in our
home, which is so full of a void; I sleep like a baby; I wake up every few
hours and cry. Those of you who've been especially grieved by Susan's
death will know that there are no words for any of this; there's nothing
one can say.
This will be the last e-mail to the hattie list; I'd like
to thank each and everyone of you for your e-mails, your cards, your
support, and your prayers. I'd especially like to give a final eulogy, not
to Susan, but to you, who've been a part of Susan's life and took the time
to talk with her and be with her in her life. It may be a rotten universe,
but friends and family make it okay.
Madre February 19 06:48 1996
The thing that
struck me most about Susan was that her concern was always for someone
else. She wanted things to be right for others. I wrote her once about
it, that I thought her sense of humor in the face of all that had happened
was a wonder. She wrote back that she wasn't sure she was all that
wonderful, that she could be grumpy and self-centered, etc.. Good grief,
woman! When you body is giving out on you, it's difficult NOT to be grumpy
and self-centered occasionally. Everything she wrote to me indicated that
her self-assessment was, to put it mildly, a overly critical. I was
married in August (second marriage, not quite "December Bride", but
definitely "September"). I still had my "formerly" name on my .sig for a
while, and she asked me "Did you get hitched? I kept my name. I'm more of
a Steinsapir than a Ramos, anyway."
I wrote back that my while my
ex-husband and I were still friends, I thought it was appropriate to take
the family name, because as a result of my marriage I had become an
"instant grandma" of seven. Her immediate reply was mainly concerned with
how his children and grandchildren accepted me. Was it okay? Was I happy?
This from a woman I only knew through the Internet, but already felt
closer to than some of the people around here.
Her love for Andreas was
beautiful. Today of all days, Valentine's Day, is perhaps a lovely time to
honor it. She talked about him in several of her mail messages. One that I
remember was an evening just before Thanksgiving, and she said "Andreas
arranged a lovely sunset. I wonder how he does that?" It made me smile to
think about them, and it's a wonderful feeling to know that there is a
love like that in the same universe. I wrote and said that Andreas sounded
like a gem, and a real "keeper". She wrote back "Yes, I love him." Nothing
witty, just a simple statement.
As I said before, I still, out of
habit, look for posts by Susan Hattie Steinsapir. If I miss her this much,
I can only imagine what it must be like for Andreas, and all of you. I am
thinking of you.
Date: Sunday March 10 13:44
Subject: Hattie in Newsday
(The following appeared in
Newsday, a New York newspaper. The article can also be found at Newsday's
web site at www.newsday.com/special/recimain.htm. Copyright Newsday,
Step Up to the Virtual Kitchen Table
A Heart for
By Wendy Lin
Newsday Staff Writer
This virtual neighborhood of home cooks and food enthusiasts
represents only a segment of the larger food community on the Internet,
populated by groups such as professional chefs, food manufacturers and
merchants. (...) According to one survey of Internet newsgroups, two of the
biggest food newsgroups have a combined readership of 280,000, making food
quite possibly the single-largest category of hobbyists on the
Food-'Net regulars congregate in newsgroups and on Web sites.
All Internet users have access to these venues, no matter which of the
many services -- such as Prodigy or IDT -- they use to get online. The Web
sites are set up by individuals, groups or commercial enterprises who then
determine what information, photographs and recipes will be displayed.
Newsgroups, on the
other hand, are largely democratic because everyone can chime in, but
there are no graphics or pictures. One of the major food newsgroups is
rec.food.cooking (RFC to those in the know), where people post their
messages -- from a request for a recipe for vegetarian lasagna to
direction on how to fold an omelets. Replies can be attached to the
posting, creating a string of correspondence, or can be sent privately
through e-mail. When a post generates much response, it can make for good
reading. There has been lively debate on subjects such as Taste of Home
magazine (a "treasure" for some, "trash" to others) and whether matzo
balls should be dense.
aspect of this virtual community was apparent earlier this year when one
of the group became gravely ill. Susan Hattie Steinsapir, a 40-year-old
lawyer from Sacramento who frequently contributed to rec.food.cooking,
died on Jan. 29 after a failed heart transplant. When her wake was held,
people who had known each other only electronically showed up in
Sacramento bearing gifts of food.
can't believe you could feel such a loss for someone you didn't know,"
said Alice Englander, a regular food-'Net user from Monterey,
Earlier this year the community of food lovers on the
Internet received some distressing news. Posted in the newsgroup
rec.food.cooking, alongside requests for clam chowder and questions about
Brie, was word that Hattie was seriously ill.
Hattie was the nom de
'Net for Susan Hattie Steinsapir, a 40-year-old Sacramento attorney who
was a regular "poster" on rec.food.cooking. Steinsapir needed a heart
transplant, and her search for a donor hit cyberspace with a bang.
minute-by-minute story of her struggle, recorded first by Steinsapir and
later by her husband and friends, was a riveting account that was tracked
by thousands of electronic food enthusiasts each day. A special site set
up for updates on Steinsapir's condition called "Heart of the 'Net" was
visited 15,244 times between Jan. 10 and Feb. 7.
On Jan. 25, after the
transplant, this entry was posted: "Susan's chest is completely closed
and she continues to improve slowly, very slowly."
She did not improve,
Monday, Jan. 29, the day she died, her husband, Andreas, wrote
this: "This morning the neurologists examined Susan . . . Her brain has
died. I placed her wedding ring on her hand, kissed her and washed
her face. We'll remove the tubes from her mouth . . . Then we'll turn off
the machines. She loved everyone on rec.food.cooking . . . She wanted me
to say good-bye for her to all of you. She is dying without pain. She
looks so lovely."
That day, many electronic food friends reported that
they broke down in front of their computers and wept. "This is a
community," said Alice Englander, "and we are devastated."
"I only knew
Susan briefly online," Andrew Stamp wrote in rec.food.cooking. "However,
her courageous struggle touched my heart. Before this experience I was
unclear whether Internet communities provided real friendships, but now I
know they do."
Steinsapir's recipes were popular on the Internet, and
here are two of them, along with her comments.
Date: May 11th, 1996
Subject: A Funeral, Two
Weddings, and Two Babies
And so those are the e-mails that were sent
from Susan's bedside. It's May now.
I found Susan's will, hidden under
her socks. Susan left her large amethyst brooch to her sister. It was made
by her great-grandfather. We looked in her jewelry box, but it wasn't
there. Susan had hidden it. Ellen began to look everywhere. She couldn't
find it. She got desperate and went through the entire place three times.
My sister suggested that women hide things in the flour. So Ellen dumped
out the beans, sugar, etc. Several days later, I found a safety deposit
box key. I didn't know that she had a safety deposit box. So I went to the
bank and asked if the key matched their boxes. The manager told me that
I'd have to get a court order to open the box. With Susan being a lawyer
and half of our friends being lawyers, that was no problem. The next
morning I was there with a pile of legal instruments. They looked at
everything, had me sign fifteen different places, and we entered the
vault. We found the box. The key matched. We opened it. Empty. Totally
empty. Typical Susan to have an empty deposit box. Ellen was convinced
that Susan had lost the amethyst. I felt that it'd turn up eventually. As
I carried off boxes of clothes to the Cats in Need Society (they sell
things and raise money for cats), I searched everything for the brooch.
Towards the end of February, I visited my family in Nashville for a week
or so and helped my parents move from one house to another. On the last
day in Nashville, my sister had her second baby. I flew back to
Sacramento, changed my clothes, and together with Susan's mother, drove to
San Diego, where Ellen, Susan's sister, got married in a small private
ceremony. Drove back to Sacramento, stopping in LA for pastrami
at Junior's, Susan's favorite LA kosher deli.
Several days later, at the
beginning of April, we went back down to Los Angeles for Passover. It was
very nice to see her family gathered together. During dinner, I stood up,
said that I had something to say, looked at Ellen, and handed her the
brooch. She was so happy to see it. One day, I looked at Willie who was
asleep in his favorite basket. Susan's favorite cat. So I woke him up,
got him out of the basket, and began looking under the wool blanket. There
was the amethyst. Susan had given it to Willie for safekeeping.
get computers and their free disks for using the net, they get on and
fire up a searcher and type the words that mean the most to them. And so
Kelly Perkins in Los Angeles typed "heart transplant" because she was
number 594: the 594th transplantee at UCLA. And found Susan's page and
e-mailed me. And so we talk every few days. I made a web site for her for
her book. Many more transplantees, family, and their nurses and doctors have contacted me.
They've all found out what none one appreciates until it's too late: it's
a great miracle to be alive and to love each other.
I'd like to say
thank you to everyone who sent e-mails, postcards, get-well cards,
letters, and packages of food, books, and things. We saved every one of
these. Susan appreciated every single one that she received and she looked
forward to spending her several months of recovery by writing back to
My father tells me that his hospital in Tennessee dedicated a
room and a painting in a patient and family's waiting room to Susan. That
was very kind of them.
In June, I moved to Palo Alto. Gave away quite a bit of stuff, packed up the rest, and moved. After
I moved, the cats hid out under the bed for several days, but they like it
here now. There's a pool and I swim every day, peacefully alone. There's
a lemon tree by the pool which nobody seems to touch, so I pick lemons and
make lemonade. Without Susan's cooking, I've lost 20 pounds in the last
few months. For a housewarming dinner for close friends, I made Susan's
Venison Daube; it was utterly spectacular. Marinade cubes of venison in
sherry and brandy for several days: the taste is indescribably rich and
complex. What a cook! If you're looking for a special meal, try one of her
dishs. And drink a toast to Susan.
Anyway. These are Susan's e-mails,
as they were sent out. I cleaned them up, put them in order, checked the
spelling, and put them here for you to read. Many of you have written to say that it must have
been very difficult to share such personal events. Yes, it was very difficult. Many times I had to force myself to write. Many times I couldn't continue writing.
Many have asked why I wrote these e-mails. As Susan
became sicker in November and December, it became a job of several hours
to call and update our friends and both families by phone. Since most of
our close friends had e-mail, I created a mailing list in early January
as we began preparing to go to UCLA for the transplant. Mimi received
e-mails from the list and posted them to rec.food.cooking. Others posted
these to the transplant newsgroup and the alt.cancer.support newsgroup. Everyday, Susan and I would talk about what to put into the update. If I skipped a day, Susan
urged me to write. And I understood why. Susan was afraid of dying alone.
She wanted so much to be part of the world and to be with her
friends. In the summer, she gave me a long list of phone numbers of
friends to call if she died. As a lawyer, she had dealt with too many
clients who've died and nobody to mourn them. One of the deepest needs
within each of us is the need to be heard by someone and to be loved. This
is why, despite the pain of writing this, Susan and I wrote these updates.
Thank you for reading this.
- In June, 1997, we placed her tombstone in Sacramento.