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By Amy Phillips Penn

There was a funeral in New York a few days ago. A woman died and her friends reacted.

I met Jennie (not her real name, of course) one or two times, many years ago.

She was perfectly pleasant, but we never took our “nice to meet you’s,” further than that.

We were on some of the same New York committees, but so were many others.

I heard her name from time to time, with no gossip velcroed to it.

The rest is hearsay.

Jennie, who had been quite successful in the financial world, had taken a wallop from that very same “now you have it, now you don’t,” ride.

She was broke, and she didn’t want anyone to know about it.

Jennie was once known as a philanthropist, not limited to simply signing checks, but working hands-on with those in need.

When she found herself in money- hell, she didn’t want her friends to know.

If that wasn’t already a Herculean task to attempt to stay sane about, she had terminal stage cancer.

She told her confidantes that she didn’t want people to hear about her homeless state, adding that she “didn’t feel loved.”

Does lack of status, power, money, looks, and what someone can do for you equal being un-loveable?

At the very end, some of Jennie’s friends appeared by her bedside. They sat with her, told her how much she had meant to them, and praised her for good she did in this world.

Did she die feeling loved?

Ahh…the pressure to keep up with the Von Joneses.

Katie, a close friend of mine who died a few years back, went into a similar reclusive state.

Money was not the issue; she had inherited abundance.

Her mother’s forever wish for her only daughter was to be married.

She had planned Katie’s wedding down to the Porthault linens and Baccarat vases.

Katie never got married.

In the end, Katie was painfully anorexic and had hip cancer.

She avoided her friends, except when she went to her club in Southampton. Southsiders and Chardonnay were her Wheaties.

She adopted several dogs, most of them amputees, and left most of her fortune to the A.S.P.C.A.

When she died, her aunt was her only living relative who cared. There was a small service in Southampton, and none of the expected laudatory newspaper accolades. Nada.

When another friend was having money woes, she called on her family, a tough Prozac to swallow.

Her cousin’s wife answered the phone and replied:

“I don’t know what to tell you, but I have to run. I’m having my hair done, because we’re being honored tonight,” …and the next night, and the next.

A ten million dollar donation here, there, and everywhere breeds its own label of honor.

I have toyed with having a t-shirt made.

On one side it would say “Useful,” in glittery gold sequins.  And on the other, in tattered patches, it would whisper “Useful…not,” depending on its owner’s current status in the myopic eyes of many.

Note to user: turn it around as fate dictates.

Entitlement, you are so slippery to lean on, even in our Guccis.

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