Libsohn ends series about her parents with ‘Messages of Love Remembered’

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Pauli Libsohn holds the final book in her series "Message of Love Remembered," an anthology of poetry her parents wrote. (Photo by Teri West)

Six books and five years later, Manhasset’s Pauli Libsohn says her series chronicling her parents’ lives has concluded.

The book marking that conclusion, “Messages of Love Remembered,” is one she never intended to write in the first place. She didn’t know the material still existed.

The new book is an anthology of poetry her parents exchanged over the course of their marriage. In the past five years, she also published three written by her mother, Mitzi Libsohn, a history of her parents’ marriage called “What Is Love” and, just this past October, an anthology of her mother’s college essays about Shakespeare.

Libsohn speaks adoringly about the love her parents had for one another throughout their 60-year marriage, a love that she found so special she wanted to share it with the world, she said.

It was on July 4, 2018, that Libsohn realized she had the material for a sixth book.

She had known that her parents regularly exchanged cards. What she didn’t know is that her parents saved them.

Libsohn was cleaning out her basement on the nation’s birthday when she decided to open envelopes labeled as bank statements. Enclosed were the greeting cards.

“I thought my mother just threw them out, but then unbeknownst to me, they were there,” Libsohn said. “She threw out the bank statements and replaced it with these cards.”

After deciding to compile them into a book, she looked through her photo album to find an image to accompany each. Upon taking the photos out, she discovered more poetry, this time on the back of the photos. That poetry went into the book, too.

“It was a perfect ending for the entire anthology,” Libsohn said.

The book separates the poetry into occasions such as Valentine’s Day and the couple’s wedding anniversary. Libsohn even included a chapter called “For the Love of Pauli,” with poetry she received on her birthdays.

“They would start weeks in advance in their search for appropriate birthday cards to present me with … sometimes traveling to certain ‘boutique’ card stores out of the area just to achieve this goal, not only presenting me with one card, but two, three four cards each, composing small poems and words of love,” she wrote in the chapter’s introduction. “When I opened them, it was ceremonious, to say the least, for they could not wait for my reaction.”

Libsohn published the first book, “Immortal Kisses: Confessions of a Poet” in 2014, 10 years after her father’s death and six years after her mother’s and never planned to write five more. Parting with the series was hard, she said.

“When I look at it, it was a tremendous, tremendous project, and it was exhilarating,” she said. “I was exhilarated by it, and to show this extraordinary love that my parents had to the public is incredible.”

The experience hooked her on writing. After taking a break for the summer, she said she plans to start a novel based on fact.

“Messages of Love Remembered” is available on Amazon.com.

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