My former writing student and steadfast friend in Taos, New Mexico, Grace Fichtelberg, my own “Amazing Grace,” whom I featured in my very first WOW blogpost ten years ago this month, turned 100 years old on March 18. 

For those of you who’ve been following her writing “career,” as I’ve reported on her from time to time over these ten years, Grace is still working on her memoirs. I have every confidence she’ll finish this project before her 110th birthday, and it will be worth the wait.

When I wrote to her recently and asked for her views on turning 100 — to be included in this, my last weekly WOW post — my “Amazing Grace” was her usual matter-of-fact self:

“Ten years after our first interview?” she wrote. “I’m the same Grace, nothing new to add, except I’m ten years older. No new experiences, a few new friends, completely retired, no more car, lost independence, an old lady now.” 

BUT, she added quickly, her brain is still “in full gear,” and she’s “never bored.” She still has contact with friends and “a strong interest in politics and debates on the subject.” She apologized for not being able to send me a photo of her 100th birthday party. “I stopped having my picture taken years ago,” she confessed.

And then, characteristically, she turned the tables by asking me questions: “You’re really going to close up your WOW shop, Bonnie? What are your plans?”

So for Grace, and whomever else may be wondering, I’ll try to explain:

My next writing project, as I see it now, will entail some serious research, which will take all of my freer time and what’s left of my intellectual and emotional energy. It may well take ten years to complete. It may or not become a published book. It’ll be a quest, a deep dive into the past to come up with some possible answers to my favorite burning question, WHY?  It will be a bookend of sorts, similar to ending (bookending) my WOW posts with my first interviewee, Grace.

(Stock photo)

My first book, SOMEWHERE CHILD (Viking Press, 1981), as those of you who’ve read it already know, was about the WHAT of the story of my daughter’s abduction by her father. I was in my early 30s when I wrote it, a recent graduate of Columbia University’s writing program, a young, broken-hearted mother desperate to find her missing child. And the book did that, gracias a dios.

But by then, I found, the damage had been done. She was raised to believe the reason she and her father had been living on the run for so many years was that I, her mother, was a bad person from whom he had to do all to protect her. He’d filled her mind with the same monstrous lies he’d tried to use in custody cases in court when she was a young child, cases he’d consistently lost. With her, however, he won. He even changed her first name to Victoria, representing his “victory.”

Now that I’m older, nearing 80, and I like to think wiser about many things, including men, I feel I can be a bit more dispassionate and perhaps even somewhat analytical in approaching this tragic, but not unique, parental abduction story. In doing so I need to ask – and try to answer – this haunting question: Why would a person do such a thing?  Which of course prompts many other questions, such as, What was he really running from?  

He was a complicated, mysterious man – a man of his time and place, I now believe. I must try to solve some of these mysteries – for myself as well as others. I don’t expect my daughter to be swayed by my findings. I simply need to devote what’s left of my life to seeking the larger truths. 

So at this point I must thank you all, my dear WOW readers, for following me on this ten-year-long, weekly-blog journey. It’s been a worthwhile education for me, and I hope of some value to you. This is my 515th WOW post. According to my WordPress stats, there’ve been a total of 136,908 views and 8,238 comments so far.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ll keep the blog alive for those who’d like to reach into the archives, and perhaps I’ll check in from time to time and give you updates on the progress of my new project.

Mucho amor siempre de San Miguel (much love always from San Miguel),


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42 thoughts on “Bookends”

  1. I have faithfully read, though infrequently commented on your blog, loving the connection with you Bonnie, despite the time and distance separating our lives. Hearts remain connected: is that a thread for your next project? I ask: Why could that man not permit your daughter to remain connected to you? It has been a joy and privilege for me to maintain connection with you so many years! Xoxoxo

  2. Hi Bonnie — Jane B here, writing from Istanbul. I’m one of your loyal readers, and I’ve loved your blog and celebrate your decision to move onward. I really admire your continued ability to find interest and inspiration in the people and world around you. I’ll be in New York from mid-June to mid-July in case you happen to be back in your old neighborhood. Sending you love. xxxx your old classmate.

    1. Istanbul, dear Jane?! You’re full of surprises! So sorry I won’t be going to NYC this summer, so I won’t be seeing you there. Why don’t you plan a trip down here? I think a reunion is in order. Mucho love siempre, BB

  3. Oh Bonnie, we will all miss WOW. I have called it my weekly meditation. Your writing has given me context, laughs, and ideas to ponder. You have piqued my curiosity about some things and provided more depth on others. It keeps me connected to you when I am on the road, and to the friends I’ve never met, your commenters. Looking forward to reading the new project Mija!

  4. Good luck on your “quest” Bonnie……wishing you all the best. I’ve enjoyed all your posts….. love and hugs from a very old friend……do we go back as far as kindergarten? Pam Butler

    1. Thanks for your good wishes, dear Pam. My memory doesn’t go back as far as kindergarten, so I can’t say whether we’ve known each other that long. But it HAS been a long time! All best wishes to you and your family. — BB

  5. BonnieDear, may the sleuthing intelligence of Agatha Christie be upon you. The most hateful thing one could do would be to deprive a child of her mother—especially a girl child. May you solve the mystery of why anyone on earth would do this to their supposedly beloved daughter. Much love to you, Be ~ xoxo

    1. Thanks so much, BeDear! I’ve never read Agatha Christie, but maybe I should begin to do so now. I don’t suppose she’d heed my prayers for help if I hadn’t read her. 🙂

      1. Oh, I’m pretty sure she would. The ego doesn’t follow the spirit to the next dimension, I’m pretty sure!

  6. Dear Bonnie,

    You have been a wonderful presence in my inbox for many years. I am so grateful for your insightful commentary, your willingness to share so many of your life experiences. You have been a gift to all of us fortunate enough to read your letters. Thank you so very much!

    My best wishes to you in whatever new endeavors you choose,


    1. Dear Anne — I’m deeply touched by your kind words. Thank you. And thank you for your good wishes. I feel as if I’m now gearing up for another mountain climb! All best to you, too. — Bonnie

  7. Oh, Bonnie! This was a wonderful ten year project. And I am excited about your next one. Delving deep. Research. Bookends. It all sounds so fruitful. Stay in touch. All my very very best , Sharman

    1. Thank you, dear Sharman, for your kind words and encouragement. Yes, we shall see how this next project shapes up! Vamos a ver, as we all say here in MX. — And, yes, I’ll certainly stay in touch. — xx

  8. Oh, Bonnie! This all sounds very fruitful. Delving deep. Research. Bookends. This log has been a wonderful and profound project and I know it is bittersweet putting it aside. All my very very best, Sharman

  9. Bonnie querida, I will definitely miss your blog! So many interesting thoughts and beautiful pics you have shared over the years. I think your next project will be worthwhile. After reading your first memoir, I had the same question. Why would that man separate a little girl from her mother…forever? Your grandchildren and perhaps even your daughter may learn something from it. In the meantime let’s stay connected through Face. We are in Taos now…still love this place!

    1. Querida Te — You deserve a prize for having read and commented on all 515 of my WOW posts over the years! What a feat! Thank you, dear one, for ALL of your kind and encouraging words. Yes, we’ll stay in touch. Claro! Have fun in Taos. Kiss it for me. — BB xx

  10. While I am sorry to see you “go” and I’ll miss your columns, I applaud you moving onward to your next project. I know you are following your heart and thus, all will fall into place exactly as it should. Just know…your writings will be missed.

    1. Thank you, dear Barbara, for your kind words. Yes, it does seem to me that my heart is urging me on toward this new project. I feel as if I’m being pulled by an invisible rope. Vamos a ver! Best wishes to you.

  11. Warm wishes and thanks for all your wonderful posts, Bonnie… and the wonderful watercolor heron you painted in Mexico is on display in our house here in Sweden, reminding me every day of your love of beauty and search for meaning… keep me posted and please consider visiting Sweden, where you have a place to stay and are always welcome <3

    1. Dearest Nico — Did you happen to reread that first WOW (re Grace) in which you appear? Remember that time you came to visit me in Taos? Just think: That was TEN years ago! Thank you for your invitation to visit you in Sweden. But since I don’t travel anymore, I think you’d best come here and visit SMA. There are wonderful birds here. I, personally, feed countless hummingbirds on my terrace. 🙂 Thank you for your warm wishes and steadfast friendship. — Love always, BB xx

  12. Like other readers who have commented, I will miss the weekly blogs, while supporting your decision to focus on the next effort. Your writing has been a reflection of my own thoughts, and recognition that old and wise are earned and accurate. I thought you’d appreciate knowing I read one of your blogs, the one describing “aging” that was written with your announcement about the closing of weekly articles, to a group of a few dozen returned peace corps volunteers. There were both smiles & tears, like my own response. If you find yourself in Phoenix or Flagstaff, you have a place to stay. Thank you. I’ll be looking forward to occasional reports on your next efforts.

    1. Dear Marie — Well, you’ve just brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for your kind words and your support. I deeply appreciate them. — Abrazos, Bonnie

  13. Dear Bonnie, your new project will be an impressive piece of work. I do hope you save a bit of free time and a bit of intellectual and emotional energy to ‘come out and play’ from time to time in San Miguel de Allende.

  14. Bonnie, thank you so much for your weekly WOW blog posts. I have enjoyed and will miss them. I wish you much success in finding the missing pieces of the haunting devastating reasons, the “whys”, of the puzzle in your research project. Though personal to you, inevitably some lessons learned and any commonalities of others in similar situations may serve as warning signs for others. So heartbreaking. I’m curious if recent Ai technology search on his name(s) etc will produce anything helpful, if accurate. I just noticed this week there is an Ask Meta Ai function in my WhatsApp application, as if carrying on a chat with a real entity. Weird. So far I’ve only asked “it” about a health question and to help figure out an issue with my Jade plant. Anyway, I hope new tools available now that weren’t available then might be helpful leads, of course bolstered by tried and true accepted research methods of fact checking and confirmations. I do hope you will periodically update us WOW readers and friends on your findings and where this new research project takes you. Most importantly I hope you find health, happiness, piece of mind, and peace as you move forward.
    All the best,

    1. Dear Lyn — I deeply appreciate all your kind words and thoughtful suggestions. Using AI for my research hadn’t occurred to me (I’m such a 19th-century girl)! I have a lot to learn, but I agree that more research may be available online now than ever before. Vamos a ver! And, yes, parental abduction and alienation still happen too often. SOMEWHERE CHILD helped to change laws. Perhaps this new project might do some greater good as well. — My best to you, BB xx

  15. Thank you, Bonnie. I have truly enjoyed your blog! I wish you well with the next project. It sounds like essential life work. ❤️

  16. Dear Bon,
    Thank you so much for all the work, heart, and wisdom you put into every post you write. It’s been wonderful having a chance to talk to you every week in this way.
    I think your new undertaking sounds great. Searching for truth can only be a worthy thing. Congratulations on entering this new phase of your life,

    1. Dearest Paul — As someone who wrote to me regularly when I was in the Peace Corps (and often tucked a $5 bill in the envelope) and who has read and commented on every single WOW blog post over these ten years, YOU deserve a medal! THANK YOU for being such a dear, dear friend. And don’t stop writing to me, please, please, please. — Love always, BB xx

  17. Bonnie, I thought about this long and hard before I came back to make this suggestion to you. Part of your search must include coming to fully understand what Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is, in all of its layers, and expressions.

    We did not have the information and research when you needed it. But we do now. Fortunately, YouTube has many videos by professionals who can provide you with a lot of useful information to help you come to a much fuller understanding of what happened to you, your child, your marriage, and the entire nightmare that unfolded. You can start here:
    I hope you find the answers you are seeking, and that final pain in your soul gets some respite. Thank you for sharing your life, your insights/wisdom, and your vulnerability with us for the past decade. May the blessings return to you ten-fold.

    1. Dear Bri — I appreciate your suggestion so much! Yes, I will definitely follow through. I desperately need such guidance for my research into these fields. I also need to research PTSD and CTE (if that’s the correct acronym) because he was in the infantry in the Korean War, and that might account for some of his behavior. As you rightly point out, so much more is known now about these things. I need to learn how to access this rich information. Blessings on your head! — Bonnie (P.S. — I’m open to more suggestions…)

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