Friday, July 8, 2016

Remembering Wendy

Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman in Palm Beach. The photos on this page of Wendy and her family were included in the memorial program.
Friday, July 8, 2016.  Hot and humid in New York yesterday with Real Feel running over 100 degrees until early afternoon when we had a torrential shower (ten minutes max) which removed a noticeable amount of humidity from the air. More promised for today, however. The heat brings a quiet to the city with fewer people on the streets and fewer cars on the road. People stay in. At night the most prominent sound on the avenue is the loud din of a hundred thousand air conditioners going full blast.

Summer nights. Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman died this past May 10th of heart failure. She was very young in her mid-70s. Most of us knew her only to be in good health, although after she died we learned that she had had some health problems that she had been living with.
Baby Wendy.
Wendy possessed an authentic aristocratic demeanor, an heirloom from the Gilded Age when her family was so famous and so rich. She reflected an aura that came with the name Vanderbilt in the first half of the 20th Century. She looked the part and she acted the part. It was her nature. It was also her nature to be kind, empathic, full of humor, and generous in her caring for others and for animals. Whatever her personal challenges and relationships within her family and private life, she was a woman who could make herself engage in the moment. In other words, she was the ideal woman to carry the imagined finesse of a Vanderbilt or a Lehman.
Flower girl Wendy. Booksmart Wendy.
'60's Wendy.
The Wendy inside that strong and agreeable image was really a striving artist. I might add “struggling” too because it goes with the territory. She was diligent and hardworking. And dedicated to her work. She could also slip out of her studio duds, slip on a dress and an amazing bejeweled necklace (which she designed and collected), and sparkle with friendship. This is a great gift. It is one of the reasons she is missed now by many.

Last week I received an (email blast) from her daughters Brooke, Sage and Susan, addressed to “the many dear friends of Wendy.”  It occurred to me about the many dear friends part that Wendy’s personality cultivated friendship, and she probably even had friends and admirers her daughters never knew about. It is another tribute to the lady – a great mother.
Mother Wendy.
Grandma Wendy.
The letter:

To the many dear friends of Wendy,

It has been almost six weeks since Wendy left us. We continue to mourn our loss and marvel at how much more to her life there was than any of us realized.

Thank you to those who were able to attend our mother's memorial. Over 450 people attended — it was the most packed event many had ever experienced at the Century. Our self-deprecating Wendy would have been both shocked and thrilled. We know that there are some of you who were very important to our mother that could not be there, and others who have asked for transcripts of the eulogies. For this, we are providing a link to a video of the service.
Wendy's memorial service.
We have received such an outpouring of love and support in the wake of our mother's death. Thank you. In addition to flowers, notes and letters, we have raised nearly $20,000 towards the Wendy Lehman Memorial Studio that we we will build in her honor at The Watershed Center in Millerton, NY. We will continue to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the project as we begin drawing up plans for this fitting memorial.

Over the last 6 weeks, my sisters and I have come to realize just how little our mother shared with us about her extraordinary life. She occasionally spoke to us of sitting us down and telling us stories about her youth, but she never did. So, please do not assume we have heard her stories, and please share them with us — from the tame to the wild — nothing would make us happier than to hear them all.
As is the case in the aftermath of a very full life that ends abruptly, there are a million loose ends that my sisters, my nieces and I are beginning to tackle. We are committed to making sure that we honor my mother's care and attentiveness. That said, she amassed a lot of beautiful things and we do welcome suggestions and support.

Many of you have also asked about acquiring a piece of her art. We know there is nothing that would make her happier that to have her art in her friend's homes. She has hundreds of paintings which we will be cataloging and will send along a notice when we have them up for viewing. She also has many large indoor and outdoor sculptures, which we would love to sell or donate to places that would appreciate them. You are also welcome to come out to her studio in Watermill this summer to view pieces in person. We will likely have an open studio event there in August.
Wendy with Orin Lehman and daughters Brooke, Sage and Susan.
Thank you again for all of your love and support during such a difficult time.

Love and best wishes to you all,

Brooke, Sage and Susan
 

Contact DPC here.