Tag Archives: Parental abduction


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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