On her plans for 2021, she said, “Like most people, my first wish for 2021 is the end of the Covid pandemic, and the return to the life we lived, or one that resembles it. I hope that Covid taught us some humility.”
“As for my plans, this year I’ll continue to teach at the Department of Political Science, Queens College/CUNY, where I discovered the talented Markos Papadatos as a student who was enrolled in my courses. And now, here you are interviewing me,” she said.
Flamhaft continued, “One of my goals is to use my life experience and my skill as a public speaker to address the many bereaved individuals, women and men alike, about life after tragedy. I want to give them hope amidst the misery and hopelessness they experience now. I want to tell them that there’s happiness in their future, in which their memories of their lost loved ones will always be part of them, and that is Ok. In addition, I’m planning to publish my memoir War Widow: How the Six Day War Changed My Life as an audiobook, and promote it. Readers of my memoir tell me that it should be a movie. I hope to work on that possibility as well.”
The distinguished college professor noted that she stopped making new years’ resolutions. “I think those promises to ourselves, often private and intimate, general or particular, should guide us every day. Frequently, the New Years’ resolution we make are unrealistic,” she said.
On her latest book, she remarked, “A few years ago, I started to work on a fictional novel about a woman who deals with aging in a promiscuous way. The plot is fascinating. The details of her life are quite intriguing. But I stopped working on it because of the difficulties writers my age face publishing books. The best way to try publish a book with an established publishing house is through a literary agent. But agents usually look for younger authors with whom they can have a long-term relationship in which they can publish many future works.”
She continued, “There are other issues too: Agents sometimes want changes that their authors are reluctant to make. One agent asked me to begin my memoir at the age of 18 rather than my early childhood, as I did. That would have eliminated characters that were too important in my life, as well as a crucial part of my narrative, and my family’s unique history.”
“Another agent’s requests would have created a conflict of interest,” she said. “So, while feeling fortunate to have two interested agents, in the end I decided to self-publish my memoir. In retrospect, I might have made a mistake since self-publishing is not always taken as seriously as it should. It also requires a great deal of self-promotion, which can be overwhelming. Who knows, perhaps I’ll go back to writing this novel one day. If you are a write, once you have an idea, it’s difficult to let go of it.”
“During this pandemic, every morning upon waking up and breathing I would be thankful,” she said. “I have been worried about my immediate family’s safety, my relatives, and friends; and grateful for their health. One of my close relatives who is a young man, a husband and a father of a young son, had Covid. Though he recovered, his illness caused long-term health problems.”
“He was just operated on successfully, months after his recovery (the first attempt at surgery failed). When I told him how lucky he was, he chuckled. Surely, his illness was unfortunate, but the outcome could have been very different, and I’m grateful he’s alive and getting well,” she added.
I’ve been very careful, yet I didn’t let my Covid concerns paralyze me. I’ve been teaching my courses on Zoom, corresponded with students, learned new technologies, in short, I’ve been quite busy. I’ve been cooking a lot too, and doing much walking, either on the East River promenade or in Central Park. I can’t wait to go back to my swimming when it is safe to do so.
“To break the monotony my husband and I have been going out for lunches outdoors when the weather is close to 40 degrees. Sometimes we’ll take day trips. Occasionally we visit our daughter and her family sitting afar in their back yard. I miss hugging and kissing my two grandchildren ages 13 and 16. We speak daily on FaceTime. I cannot imagine surviving without it. I have had my bad days too. I mean bad,” she added.
Flamhaft acknowledged that she sees a silver lining in the pandemic. ” Though I personally have not taken anything for granted since tragedy struck me in my early 20s, I hope that as a collectivity we’ll all do the same. I wish that we’ll be selfless and kinder to one another, taking the example of health workers and other first responders,” she said.
“I hope that we can take a better, longer look at the grocer, the supermarket cashier, the delivery person, the bus driver, and be more thankful to them. I hope that we learned humbleness and modesty, being reminded of our vulnerability,” she added.