05/11/09 – Unique Lives and Experiences

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  1. Dear Ms Fonda,

    I have known of you, heard and seen you for so many years, I feel like I should be addressing you as Jane. You don’t know me however so Ms Fonda it must be… This is a thank you note in appreciation of everything you have done to better the world and people’s lives. How do you begin an “hommage” letter? Difficult but here goes…

    I have been a fan of yours from way back in the 70s. My then boyfriend (and later husband), my sister, a slew of friends, and I went to see you during your tour in Montreal where you gave a speech re: Cambodia. We pushed our way to the front of the crowd while avoiding being trampled on. Philippe (boyfriend), Francesca (sister), Marie & Michel (best friends), were star-struck and I, well, awe-struck and moved to tears by your speech.

    Philippe took oodles of photos of you; Francesca took down pages of notes; I did nothing but let your words seep into me and wrap around me like a protective shield. I needed to soak up everything you said and remember it forever. I’m sorry to report that were it not for the printed version of your speech, I have long since forgotten it completely. So sorry! Can’t help having those senior moments…..

    A photo of you taken by Philippe at that gathering still hangs in my office. Today, my daughter Allanah thinks you’re phenomenal, rad, and oh soooo brilliant! Oh, am I allowed to have an unauthorised photo of you? Do I owe you royalties? Man, never thought about that! How about I pay you with a fantabulous Italian meal?

    I have followed your personal and professional endeavours ever since. I was a huge fan of your father’s and it seemed only normal that his daughter would turn out to be just as great and grand a person as he. In all honesty, though, I have to admit having a love-envy relationship with you. Well, yes, envy… Philippe was mad about you (sorry, but it was just plain lust); Francesca dressed like you and copied your every wardrobe and hairstyles (she always succeeded in emulating you); I wanted to be like you and even cut my hair like yours in Klute (not such a good idea). But envy aside, I have always loved you, respected you, and admired you.

    You have always inspired my sister and me to go out there and do things, try things, say things, become someone. And we did. The only thing I never managed to summon and, sadly, neither did Francesca, was the courage to become an actress. Or a singer. Or work in the music or film industry. Or become a writer. To this day, I remain an avid moviegoer, a huge music lover, and voracious reader; I am, in my heart of hearts, but a frustrated artist!

    Back to Montreal after living in France for 10 years (and divorcing Philippe!), I was happy to be with my sister again. Francesca and I were devastated when you and Tom divorced and wished we could have made things okay for you. We even wanted to write you and tell you to come to Montreal. With wholesome Italian dishes, we would restore your faith in humankind and soothe your broken heart. Of course, you would have come!!!! Somehow, we took it very personally! How ridiculously childish on our part!

    Fast forward to your autobiography: Francesca and I both bought your book and read it, she in her bed, me in an armchair across from her. Three days later, we both marvelled at the same thought. You share a birthday with Francesca, 21st December, and it struck a cord with both of us that you wrote about it and your feelings on being born during the winter solstice. We both said we would write you and tell you how much your book moved us, how it inspired us. The book did the rounds of several households; afraid that I would lose track of it, I ended up offering “My Life so Far” as a birthday and Christmas present to various members of my family and friends. No need to thank me – I was happy to contribute to the promotion of your book!!

    Francesca and I always said that if you ever came to Montreal, we would do everything possible to meet you—by any means. In the interim, we dreamed and schemed up plans of flying down to Atlanta to meet you, especially after seeing you interviewed for your book on Charlie Rose and other TV programmes, and even on a French TV channel in France. After this showing, we called up our friends in Nice and Paris and, like silly teenagers, we praised your intelligence, your lovely accent and how elegant you looked.

    I am delighted that I will finally get to see you “en chair et en os” and hear you “de vive voix”. I am so looking forward to hear you speak during Unique Lives & Experiences on 11th May at Place des Arts!

    How I wish Francesca could be with me. My darling sister passed away on 21st June 2006, six months shy of turning 51 and on the first day of summer solstice… I miss her dearly, actually ache for her, but I know her spirit is with me every day. I continue doing things we used to love doing together, displaying the things she cherished, and keeping her memory alive by thanking her for being my pillar of strength, my anchor, and my partner in crime. Perhaps then this is what reincarnation is truly all about – remembering those you love, forever and ever.

    So, Ms Fonda, I will be there in Montreal, on 11th May, along with Francesca’s spirit, and we will both cheer you on and wish you the very best for your third act. How fitting that, on that day, I will get to see you on the 20th anniversary of her graduation, and at one of our favourite hangouts.

    Carissima Jane,
    Ciao-ciao, a presto, et au plaisir!

    Ana Domenica Rodà
    [email protected]

  2. Hello Ms Fonda, I attended tonight’s lecture and as expected, I was not disappointed. Your life experiences and your willingness to share is truly a gift.
    I read your book and there was a section that especially touched me because I am at that crossroad in my life where my voice is changing. I find myself speaking in very high tones when I’m nervous, tense and sometimes surrendering to something or someone when it is not heartfelt on my part. You’ve touched the subject tonight when you mentionned that you have to have intention, feeling “whole”. Because of you – yeah, your fault. I am now in this search to find my own voice. I am more convinced that I will seek a class for public speaking because I am simply terrified and cannot find my words at times when I speak so a lot of people, will tend to interrupt, speak in my place and not respect the fact that I was speaking. Mind you, at other times now and again, my voice is much deeper now and I am “conscious” of this new reality and it really pleases me ’cause I know I’m on the right track.
    I feel more peaceful now that I’ve shared this with you.
    Thank you for your generosity and having spent your “day off” with us. I am looking forward to reading & watching you soon in your upcoming ventures in cinema, bookwriting, dvd, etc…
    Merci beaucoup,

  3. i was thrilled to receive a last-minute ticket from a friend to come see you speak. what a privilege to hear your ideas, and have you share your humour, honesty, insight and gifts. thanks for coming up from broadway for the one-nighter in montreal! i’m a gen x-er and while i knew the media summaries of your film work, and many films, i had no idea of all the excellent work you continue to do. you are an inspiration, and i wish more women of my generation realized what a living treasure you are. ha! no doubt that kind of label makes you laugh.

    i hope my lifetime will be as energetic, healthy and thoughtful as yours. i also hope that the sum of my choices, successes, and mistakes will keep me on a path of integrity and wry wisdom similar to yours.

    thanks again for all you do, and especially for visiting montreal. i will never forget you. you represent a truly evolved american woman, and human being.

    p.s. you speak a beautiful french! my francophone seatmates were quite impressed by that.

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