Remembering Carol Schachter
This is the first post on my site potentially riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors, the first post that Carol will not see and comment on right away. I lost my closest friend Carol Schachter on December 19, 2022.
I first met Carol at Bowery Residential Committee (BRC), its “glass factory” building in NYC on Thanksgiving of 2010. Having just arrived in NYC from South Carolina, I knew no one in the city I was about to call home. I had just finished my doctoral work at the USC School of Medicine and came to NYC for my postdoctoral work in epilepsy. I had the feeling that my career was just about to begin, though I did not know how or what shape it would take. I also knew I would love the city, I just didn’t know how much. And looking back, I realize I was given the gift of having been introduced to NYC by Carol.
Our adventures took us to Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza; Van Cortland Park, where we had sandwiches next to a tombstone; the opera where we saw, among other things, Amal and the Night Visitors; the Bastille Day parade with its macaroons; and the tramway to Roosevelt Island. Our love of books, words, pancakes at Tivoli, pizza at Posto’s, and for the city which can be absurd and ridiculous at times brought us closer. She loved her neighborhood of Gramercy Park and took care of it through its various organizations; she loved the small lending library, the sculptures and the home she and Jon shared for decades.
I knew Carol for 12 years, and in that time, I came to rely on her as a thought partner, editor, proofreader and organizer. Incredibly patient and extraordinarily quick, she would comment on commas, semicolons and errant spaces in my writing as efficiently as she would on issues of overall organization, consistency, and scientific rigor. In fact, every word on my website has been seen, edited, and commented by her. When I would send her videos to watch, she would make it a point to turn on close captioning and proofread every single word so that I was offering accessible content to all. Her faith and love of my work and my words gave me confidence when times were bleak and grey.
She took words seriously, and she took work seriously without ever being grim or aloof. Her love for her community, her people, the senior dogs she rescued, the dogs she placed, and her patience, and even enjoyment of all kinds of people stand out in my mind. The first one to show up for my performances, the first one to register for my lectures, demonstrations and webinars, she would have constructive feedback after all of my events, no matter how big or how small.
COVID was harsh to many of us, but more so to our senior citizen neighbors. Carol made me realize how unkind our city can be to its seniors, which was especially the case during the pandemic. From subway elevators that do not work, to sidewalks that are iced over after a snowstorm, Carol opened my eyes to the many things I took for granted as far as accessibility. She was adamant about changing the treatment of seniors in our society and a big supporter of my creative aging work. In fact, the ideas, structure, and the sentiment behind my creative aging efforts is all thanks to Carol. She would remark on how widows in our society are part of a magic trick; considered "old" and without a man next to them, they suddenly become invisible.
There is no ending to an article like this. Although Carol’s physical life has ended, her mind, her humor, wit, quickness, and lightness of spirit will stay with me and her other friends for as long as we live. Her work ethic and gentleness, I hope to carry on and pass on.