October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

Young Widows

My heart went out to Katie Couric when I heard of the death of her husband. I was 29 when my husband died of an asthma attack, and our son was 3 months old. The pain of losing a spouse never goes away, but it does get more bearable with time. I am now 35, and both my son and I are doing wonderfully. I am in love with a terrific man who is a great daddy to my son. I admire and can relate to these brave women in your story who also realized that life must go on.

Kim Hofstetter, Austin, Texas

Katie Couric is an inspiration. When I read your article, I thought of this quote from Shakespeare: “Do not let your grief be measured by his worth, for then your sorrow has no end….”

Susie Hahn, Erie, Pa.

I lost my husband June 8 in a car accident. He was 41 and left behind two daughters, 10 and 8. After a particularly hard week, I found this issue of PEOPLE in my mailbox. Not only did it make us all feel better to see that what we’re feeling is normal, it helped us to know that other people, even the unapproachable, are going through it, too, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Val, Brianna and Carly Rubin, Agua Dulce, Calif.

To Katie and the others: I share your grief. At age 40, I was left alone with a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old when my husband died of a heart attack. I wish I had the resources that all these ladies have had. Talk to the many widows who have to worry about finances in addition to all the other things you have to deal with. These are the real survivors. “Starting over” takes on a different meaning when you worry about paying the bills.

Sheila Patterson, Piano, Texas

I was totally disgusted by your story. Were these women grief-stricken by the loss of a spouse and soulmate? Yes! Concerned about the impact on their children losing their father? Absolutely! Worried about raising their children in near poverty and working two or three jobs to provide for them, only to tell them they can’t have a 50-cent candy bar because it’s not in the budget? Not! Grow up, PEOPLE. Please don’t insult our intelligence by saying these young widows are so-called starting over. They have already made more money than I will ever see in my lifetime.

Johnsie Trueheart, Houston

Katie Couric? Candice Bergen? Bo Derek? It would have been much more interesting to read about women who don’t have new Park Avenue apartments and White House connections.

Kathleen Reiser, Long Beach, Calif.

I cannot believe I am the only one offended by Mary Bono dating someone less than six months after losing her husband and then getting engaged in less than a year. Talk about moving on! All your other subjects had no interest in dating or had been alone for quite a while.

Martha J. Sanquenetti, Green Bay, Wis.

These women have carried on with dignity and grace in the public eye while going through what the rest of us pray we never have to.

Shannon Bozich, Shawano, Wis.

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot at 65 is still not happy? How about growing up? If she had devoted one tenth of the attention and love to her only son, Nicolas, as she did to her crusade for animal rights, she would have been Mother of the Year!

Yvonne Touzet-Rall, Kettering, Ohio

I find it so hard to believe that a woman who can love and care for animals with so much compassion refers to her child as a “tumor feeding off” her. What a pathetic portrait of a human being.

Meg Marston, Atlanta

Phillip Martin

How wonderful it was to read the article on Phillip Martin, chief of the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians! Being a Native American myself (Kiowa tribe), I don’t often find an article about our people, much less an inspiring one. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the tribal leaders were to read about Mr. Martin and be inspired to lead our dying nation toward a better tomorrow? So many of our young people do not have goals or leaders to give them the direction they need.

Kathy Marquis, Lubbock, Texas

I had the privilege of working in the Choctaw Tribal School Systems for one year as a speech pathologist. I met Chief Martin several times. He was the kind of person who didn’t stick out in a crowd as someone large and in charge—he simply cares about his people. The saddest thing about my experience was the comments that white people made to me about “those Indians.” This beautiful, spirited and talented people with a great heritage still battles the monster of prejudice, even now, at the turn of the century.

Jeffrey Boyette, French Camp, Miss.

John McCain

Many months ago I decided that John McCain was the only candidate I would vote for, and everything I read and see on TV confirms my thoughts. He is well informed and credible, along with being honest. I would be proud to say, “He’s my President.” The pathetic part is he doesn’t have the money to support his candidacy. I think Dan Quayle should give him his $4 million now that he’s out of the race.

Rosemary Harnden, Royal Oak, Mich.

Because John McCain was a POW during the Vietnam War, he “paid for the privilege” to crack tasteless biological-link jokes about Janet Reno and Chelsea Clinton? How did you make that global leap? I find McCain’s humor and PEOPLE’S apparent support of his jokes equally repugnant.

Dru Hancock, Dallas

Saturday Night Live Reunion

I very much enjoyed the story on SNL turning 25. However, you forgot one of the biggest stars: Steve Martin! Why in the world wasn’t he even mentioned? He certainly holds a huge place in the show’s history.

Tammy Myer, Lancaster, Pa.

Joe Piscopo I can understand, but to leave out Steve Martin? What is wrong with you people?

Jodi Becker, Chandler, Ariz.

You left out SNL’s perennial announcer Don Pardo! I don’t think the show would be the same without his wonderful voice.

Jolee Bartlett, San Diego

Scoop

I read with enthusiasm that Anthony Edwards is lobbying for the Pediatric Autism Research Act. I hope his voice will be heard. Autism is ranked third in pediatric neurological disorders, behind cerebral palsy and mental retardation, yet there is probably half as much research done on this disorder. Thank you, Mr. Edwards, for standing up on our kids’ behalf.

Kelly Lighty, Perry, Okla.

Picks & Pans

I have just read your article on Garth Brooks. I’m in mourning. I can’t believe this so talented, high-spirited man has just done a complete 180 with his rock star Chris Gaines persona! I was not able to attend one of his concerts in the past but had made a promise to myself I would on his next trip back. Now I’m not sure I want to! Please, Garth, say it ain’t so!

Ann Deering, Flint, Mich.

Mailbag

Please tell Mrs. John Baker how blessed she is to have a husband who so unabashedly shares his realization of her beauty, inside and out. He truly understands his marriage vows—”for better or worse, in sickness and in health”—and seems to find the sunshine behind every cloud.

Joanne Kobar, Old Lyme, Conn.

Having read the letter from John Baker of San Diego regarding his wife and how she is still the sexiest woman in his life, it occurred to me that he should be on your cover. Of course, I have not met him and he might even have two heads, but I believe he wrote from the heart—a huge heart. That, for me, is all that is necessary for him to qualify as the Sexiest Man Alive!

Carole Miles, Brampton, Ont.

Mr. Baker assures us that he does not have two heads.—ED.

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