voices in the family

Promise to a friend


November 12, 2012 — Columnist Mary Monica Mitchell writes popular etiquette columns. But her new book Woofs to the Wise: Learning to Lick at Life and Chew on Civility is personal.

Through creative, unconventional correspondence between Mitchell’s French Bulldog and her “sister of choice” — Philadelphia communications professional Nessa Forman, who died of cancer last year — lessons are shared about manners, civility, and common social interactions. But that’s not all.

Dan Gottlieb talks with Mitchell about this witty yet intimate exchange about love, vulnerability, and ultimately saying goodbye. We’ll also hear from Terri Maxwell, an expert on palliative care and hospice.

Mary Monica Mitchell has written nine books. Her column “Ms. Demeanor,” which originated in the Philadelphia Inquirer, was nationally syndicated. She currently writes a column on modern etiquette for Reuters.

Terri Maxwell is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Weatherbee Resources, Inc. and the Hospice Education Network. Inc. She previously served as the Executive Director for the Center for Palliative Care at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Nessa Forman, co-author of Woofs to the Wise, was the arts and leisure editor for The Philadelphia Bulletin. She enjoyed a 25 year career at WHYY, retiring as vice president for corporate communications and public affairs in 2007. Over the years, she worked with colleagues and mentored young professionals to help them tap into their true potential. Nessa died of pancreatic cancer just prior to the completion of the book.

Mary Mitchell appears at the Free Library of Philadelphia on Nov. 14. Profits from the book go to The Philadelphia Foundation for arts education of middle school children.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais



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  • http://DanGottlieb-VoicesintheFamily michelle flack

    I grew up across the street from Nessa Forman and her family. A remarkably elegant woman who inspired me as a young girl. Her family throughout the years has had loss after loss and I was very sad to learn of her death.

    She was quite a tenhis player!

  • Phil Knight

    What a wonderful story. So much joy from so much sorrow. Nessa, Zsa Zsa, Mary, & Jim are inspirational in both their story and their lives.

  • Susan Curry

    This short segment from 25:37 to 27:14 is the most valuable section for me. I was with my sister in her last 5 days – dying Nov. 15 of mestatic renal cancer nine days before her 66 birthday. I wish I had listened to this ten times before I went to her but I did not have time until Nov. 27. Saying “You’re beautiful! I will always remember you, I know you must rest. Thank you for being my unique sister.” Thank you for having it still available.




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