I hope you don’t mind this personal note

In our anger and passion, and our cold logic and illogic about economics, it’s easy to forget that we all just are people occupying the same tiny “pale blue dot.”

The people you hate or love or admire or dismiss, they still are people. We have fears and hopes and pride. We are ignorant about the vast majority of the universe, and we are knowledgeable about only a minuscule fraction. Good and bad, we all are built of both, and then we die . . .

. . . .which is exactly what my wife Phyllis did last night.

And I had the painful obligation to inform my friends and family, the easiest way being by Email:

“To you who know and love Phyllis (the two are the same), I am sad to announce that she finally has surrendered to the cancer, the salmonella, the pneumonia, and the ARDS she courageously has been battling.

“She is the kindest, most generous, most compassionate, and wisest woman I ever have known, and I consider myself to be the most fortunate man on this planet to have had the honor of being her husband for more than 64 years.

“The world is a less beautiful place now for her passing.

“In these COVID days, I do not plan for there to be a funeral or a shiva. If you would like to honor her memory, her favorite charity (and mine) is the American Friends of Israel Sport Center for the Disabled.

“Those who know her best, love her most, so thank you for loving her as did everyone who ever met her. She loved you in return.”

Just writing it was catharsis, and hearing their condolences was catharsis. I haven’t slept in 30 hours, and I find myself alternating between calm and rage. And exhaustion.

Suddenly, I don’t care about Trump, and Republicans, and angry mobs of traitors, and Democrats. At the bottom of our souls, we all are the same minnows in a vast ocean . . . we struggle and struggle, and ultimately we drown.

If you live long enough with someone, eventually one of you will need to tend to the other, and one of you will mourn the other.

And what you believed to be so very important, the next generation hardly will notice. The tide will wash your footprints from the sand.

But meanwhile, I am so very sad.

Rodger Mitchell

PS. You never know whether the most recent words you have spoken to anyone will prove to be the last words they ever hear. And if those words are harsh, unforgiving, or spiteful, you will suffer from regret for the rest of your life.

Phyllis and I generally went to bed at the same time, and our final conversation each night would be the same: “I love you Phyl.” “I love you, Rodg.”

It’s a good ritual.

34 thoughts on “I hope you don’t mind this personal note

  1. So sorry. So true too that we live only a short while and make so ma y things so important and then, when the time comes we discover only love is what matters. We need more of that.


  2. So sorry for the loss of your life partner, Rodger, words can’t express the loss completely. One must grieve, be strong, and continue to live, and work for your wife.


  3. So sorry to hear of your very sad loss, Roger. I hope you will continue to feel her support and love. And thank you for your always appreciated posts.


  4. I am so sorry. Your writings are a bright spot in my daily meanderings and I wish you and your family the very best. You’ll remain in my thoughts.


  5. Rodger, please accept my deepest condolences! 64 years of happiness together .. well that’s record territory and something to be extremely proud of! Most of us look up to you for guidance, so we know you will hang in there and come out even stronger! May her soul rest in peace …


  6. I am sorry for your loss. And you are right, all the political bickering and stuff on the news fades away when we realize that all of us are people, who need other people.


  7. I am so very sorry for your loss Rodger. I am certain that Phyllis inspired you all along the way. And your writing has inspired me for over ten years now.

    No one can say it like you do, even though we try. I am hoping you are wrong about the next generation. I think they will find your work to be prescient and critical to the well-being of theirs and future generations.

    I have been married to the same woman for 52 years now, and have begun thinking, although not in words as direct and elegant as yours, that soon one of us will be caretaking and the other mourning. It must be that way. I wish you a long life and hope to continue learning from mythfighter.com.


  8. Dear Rodger

    I hope you don’t mind my responding to your sad email.  I am very, very sorry to learn of your wife Phyllis’ passing. My wife and I are 65 and I periodically consider what I would do if she preceded me off this carousel, not knowing what I would do in her absence.

    When I read your missives, I hear someone not consumed by nebulous economic or political concepts, but one with compassion for the everyday people who make it possible for the ultra-rich and powered to live their lives of ease.

    As a residential real estate broker, I confess I’ve used my databases along with search engines to learn you have a base in Illinois. And because of these things, I have been feeling an affinity to you personally, as though we are friends.

    Mr Mitchell, my words surely will provide nil comfort in this distressing time.  Your eloquent words in your message drove me to send these few words of sympathy to you.  Having lost enough family and others in my circle, I believe that those we care for remain in our lives every day, wherever they have gone. To me, they really haven’t left, they live through us.  I hope this will inhabit you with Phyllis, your soulmate who helped you become who you are.

    Your sadness arrived resonantly though these electrons, and I feel it.  Bless Phyllis, Bless You. You and your words matter.

    Wishing the best to you despite your grief, knowing she will transfer her strength to you, so you’ll know she is with you with a difference–she is relieved of her discomforts and will help you through your loss.

    Heartfelt regards, JD

    JD Vercett 312-933-4342 cell/text askjd@vercettpresents.com http://www.vercettpresents.com CSH Realty Inc. Chicago IL Chicago Sweet Homes Realty Inc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, JD. Your comments and the others I’ve received, have been a great comfort. Despite the recent political events, it is clear that the majority is compassionate and loving, and that hatred is an aberration, not the norm.


  9. I am so sorry for your loss Roger. I am sending you nothing but positive vibes in the hopes that it will help you get through this sad and difficult time. Peace and Love. ✌🏼❤️


  10. Rodger – I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had a wonderful life together.

    May her memory be for a blessing.


  11. My heart goes out to you, condolences and may your grief be short. It will take some time, as it did with me to accept life as it is today. You had a good life with your wife and that means everything.


  12. Buddy passed on to me the sad note of the passing of dear Phylis.You were my tennis partner the first time I won in a competitive match and I will always remember that.

    When I mentioned it to the Chicago gang about our achievement,the most common response was to wait until I meet Phyllis and how she was both a great tennis competitor and fine person.

    When I got to meet her I sensed immediately her warmth and kindness and oh that smile that made others feel so good.The two of you were so lucky to have found each other and enjoy so many years together.

    We grieve her loss and wish you comfort.Our deepest condolences from Sandy and myself.


  13. Thank you all so much.

    Just one more thing to contemplate:

    The next words you say to your partner could possibly be the last words she (he) ever will hear from you.

    If they are harsh or angry words, you will regret them the rest of your life. But if they are loving words, they not only will comfort your partner, but they will comfort you as well.


  14. Roger, my condolences for the loss of your wife. You have many wonderful memories to carry with you; use them to help motivate yourself to keep living. When you lose someone you love it can be easy to fall down a hole and just give up.

    I lost the love of my life when we were both young and just starting out and threw myself into the wilderness for years, decades even. Please take care of yourself and lean on people who care. Even a blog like this can be helpful for staying connected with others.


  15. Rodger, I am deeply saddened by your loss and you have my deepest sympathies and condolences. Words can never really express the grief and loss when someone close to you dies.

    I understand your comments about last words. I never got the chance to tell my Dad I loved him before he died 16 years ago, and I regret it to this day. Every time I talk to my Mom (now 89) the last thing I say is “I love you” because I want those to be the last words she hears from me. I also try to tell my wife I love her every day because no one ever knows what tomorrow will bring.

    Death is never easy, but you can take solace in the 64 years of wonderful memories you had with Phyllis. Stay strong, take care of your self, and reach out to family and friends and those who care.

    I hope you can continue to carry on with this blog, your voice of reason and compassion are needed now more than ever.

    God bless.


  16. Dear Roger,
    So sorry for your loss. We will surely miss Phyllis as she was a gem. Beautiful inside and out, she had so much perseverance and toughness that it was a wonderful experience playing tennis with her or doing anything with her.

    I know that she fought her illnesses with the same tenacity. Also, she was a sweet, helpful and kind person that will be sorely missed.

    We are all lucky to have had her in our lives and the great memories can provide comfort always. May her memory be a blessing. We hope to see you soon. Love, Pam & Ted


  17. I’m so sorry to hear this, Rodger. My condolences to you and also my prayers for peace, love, and strength. I know this is an incalculably difficult time to write about, but you did, and your words were profound, an honor to read.


  18. Rodger
    I feel so fortunate to have known Phyllis for the past numerous years. She was truly one of a kind. A phenomenal person who just simply made the world a better place.
    I will miss seeing her at Ravinia Green
    Your relationship was something special and was lovely to observe from the outside. My heart goes out to you at this sad time. Sending you my condolences and you are in my thoughts. Amy

    I’m so sorry for your loss. We loved Aunt Phyllis so much. She was wise, strong, compassionate, brave and beautiful, inside and out. We will miss her.
    Sending all our love your way. Missy & Adam

    I was so sorry to hear about Phyllis. My heart breaks for you. She was a lovely woman and I so enjoyed her company. This has been a challenging year for everyone with this pandemic so we really haven’t seen anybody. I am totally out of the loop.
    I understand you are still in Florida. I do not seem to have your cell phone number or I would have called.
    I would love to make a donation in her memory if there has been any organization chosen. Our deepest condolences. Terrie & Jeff

    (Told them the charity link is: https://afiscd.org/donate-now/)

    So sad to learn of the passing of Phyllis. She was certainly the nicest person and friend. Phyllis will be missed by all that loved her. Corinne and Larry

    Rodger – Your sensational tribute to your wife, a lovely friend and tennis companion, was so beautifully written and moving — and true! Phyllis, in my mind, always seemed forever young. She was bright and beautiful, sweet and caring, stylish and positive, soft and strong. In other words, a role model for those whose lives she touched. Hoping that at this time of sadness you will find comfort in memories of a beautiful life together. We are here for you at Polo — whenever you are ready, please join us for a meal. This is so hard – no shiva to comfort and distract. And so we have email . . .
    Deby (and Michael)

    Dear Roger,
    I just heard the shocking horrible news about Phyllis. You are so right – to know her was to love her. I had the honor of being her friend for almost 40 years. During that time, I always enjoyed our time together (on and off the tennis courts!) so very much. She was indeed a very special person, full of life & full of love.
    My heart is breaking for how you must be feeling at this time. How wonderful that you had 64 years together!
    You & Julia & Leslie are in our hearts and in our thoughts. With love, Deanna & Joe

    Dearest Rodger,
    I am so saddened to hear about Phyllis. I’m sure you are inundated with emails and calls. I feel honored that you trusted me with her care. I wish I could have done more. Please know that I am here for you and want you to reach out if you need me for anything.
    Love, Lynne MD

    Rodger, there are so many words to express condolences, but I am at a loss to find them. Simple words can, very often, say as much. So, I just want you to know I am very, very, sorry to learn of Phyllis’s passing. I remember her fondly for the occasional times when she, without topspin, very adequately replaced a man in one of our tennis games. She will be missed by all who knew her. Chin up! Be strong! Don

    We will all miss Phyllis. I am so sorry for yours and our loss. Sad Joel

    Dear Rodger,
    I hardly know what to say. It is hard to believe that dear Phyllis has passed.
    We have known you both for so many years and you are an important part of our lives. Phyllis was such a lovely, vibrant lady; I can still hear her voice.
    To say that I am so sorry is an understatement! I am sorry that we cannot see you at this difficult time but we are both thinking of you.
    With love, Sue

    Adrienne and I are at a loss of words. Phyliss was so special to both of us that part of us is lost. I notified all of our tennis group. A special prayer for her blessed memory. We are always there for you. Love, Marvin and Adrienne

    Words can’t tell you how sorry I am. This was not the outcome I had hoped for.
    Knowing you two for the years I have been with you I felt the warmth & love you two had fo each other. Phillis was always a sweet person even when she was going through all that she was going through. I will remember her laughing and her kindness. I am so sorry. If there is anything I can do for you please don’t hesitate to call. She will be missed. Herb

    Dear Roger,
    We send our deepest sympathies . I called and talked to Phyllis a few weeks ago and she said that she was playing tennis pretty much every day. Therefore I thought she was feeling well and was shocked to hear that she has left us.
    She was truly one of my favorite women. She made it so easy to talk with her about anything. She always told the truth, even when it was hard to do. She also had a wonderful outlook on life and was able to laugh to make things better. We are so sorry that she is not with you.
    May her memory be for a Blessing, Myrna & Neal

    Hello Roger:
    We are deeply saddened by Phillis’s passing. We have known you guys for many years and have shared fun times socially and on the tennis court. Phillis was a quality person and always upbeat. So kind always she was an intellectual inspiration; truly and will be missed by all. A fighter who through all the travails was sweet and wonderful. We will miss her and wish you peace in the knowledge that we love you guys. Richard And Eileen

    Buddy passed on to me the sad note of the passing of dear Phyllis. You were my tennis partner the first time I won in a competitive match and I will always remember that. When I mentioned it to the Chicago gang about our achievement, the most common response was to wait until I meet Phyllis and how she was both a great tennis competitor and fine person.
    When I got to meet her I sensed immediately her warmth and kindness and oh that smile that made others feel so good. The two of you were so lucky to have found each other and enjoy so many years together.We grieve her loss and wish you comfort.
    Our deepest condolences from Sandy and myself.

    Dear Rodger
    Loanne and I were shocked and saddened to hear of Phyllis’s passing. We both feel lucky to have known such a special lady and more importantly to have been able to call her our friend.
    The tennis courts will not be the same without her.
    With love, Lonnie and Loanne

    Dear Rodger
    I was so sorry to hear of Phyllis’s passing. Thank you for finding us worthy of her memory and diverting donations in her memory to AFISCD. In view of your many years of friendship and on the recommendation of Shelly Stillman (copied in on this email), who has also made a contribution in her honor and memory, we will now install a gold medal on the wall of honor at the entrance to the Center – with the following wording:

    In honor of Phyllis and Rodger Mitchell
    for their many years of support
    Israel Sport Center for the Disabled

    Once installed I will send photos. Thank you Rodger, and I hope the good memories will be of some comfort at this difficult time.
    Sincerely, Boaz Kramer, Executive Director, Israel Sport Center for the Disabled

    Rodger. We, too, are mourning a dear friend. I’m so glad we had such lovely visits last summer. We shared 60 years of memories. When we are able, we will sit with you and talk about our relationship over so many years. You were a lucky man. You not only loved Phyllis, but you were so proud of her.
    She knew it. We all did. When we said goodbye last fall, I wished her good health. Never did I think I wouldn’t see her again. Oh My Dear, I am so sorry.
    My dearest love to you and the girls. It’s been a privilege to have you all in my life. Ellie


  19. Deepest sympathies to you and your family Rodger. Your words were a fitting tribute. Take the time to grieve and process this profound loss. May your wife rest in peace.
    Thanks for all the work that you do for this site and newsletter, it is much appreciated.


  20. Rodger, so very sorry for your loss. Sending you a healing heart and strengths. During this time please know your sharing words have touched all of us. They reveal that humanity and caring that tending and mourning which written words are like a glimpse into our soul for each other. Peace be with you as we embrace your spirit during these troubled days.


  21. Your moving expression of devotion and love is a wonderful testament to a life together. I wish you and your family peace and comfort.


  22. Rodger, I always remembered your “For Phyllis. Thank God for Phyllis” dedication note in your brilliant and entertaining Free Money book. Nothing more needs to be said. I don’t know you or her but I am shedding a tear nonetheless. I’m very sorry..


    1. Thank you, Charles.

      Every night, for 64 years, the last thing Phyllis and I said to each other was, “I love you.” Those were the last words she heard from me as she slipped away.

      One never knows whether the next thing we say to someone might be the last thing we ever say to them, and if it’s something harsh, we might regret it for as long as we live.

      Be well,



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