On The Passing of Evelyn Einstein by Allen P. Wilkinson
I am an author who writes about law. I have been a member of the California State Bar since 1979, but most of my work has been writing books, chapters, articles, and appellate briefs. In 1979 I went to work for the legendary San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli helping him to revise his book Modern Trials into a five-volume set titled Modern Trials Second Edition.
In 1986, I was the coauthor with Mr. Belli of the bestselling consumer’s book, “Everybody’s Guide to the Law.” Mr. Belli died in 1996 and I prepared a second edition of the book in 2003, which was published by Quill (an imprint of HarperCollins).
I met Evelyn Einstein in the early 2000s. I was writing an article on the stigma attached to persons with mental illnesses. In my research, I had read an article that one of Albert Einstein’s two children suffered from schizophrenia. This intrigued me, that arguably the brightest scientist ever to have lived could have a son with such a devastating mental disorder.
I wanted to learn more about the son, Eduard, and did some research and found Evelyn in Albany. I wrote her a letter with a copy of “Everybody’s Guide to the Law” (a bestselling consumers’ guide to the law I wrote with Mr. Belli) to let her know I was not some crackpot trying to ingratiate himself into the Einstein clan. Evelyn and I soon talked on the telephone and I went up to Albany to see her (I lived in Los Angeles County at the time). Evelyn and I hit it off immediately, as though we had known each other all of our lives.
Thus began a 10-year relationship with Evelyn which consisted of two- to three-hour telephone conversations every Wednesday and Saturday and occasional trips up to the San Francisco Bay Area. Evelyn and I were kindred spirits and had a long distance relationship with occasional trips on my part up to Albany. I loved Evelyn as much as it is possible for one human being to love another and know she felt the same way about me, as we occasionally talked about our relationship. We also talked about variety things, including her medical condition, her friends, science, what it was like growing up Einstein, etc.
Our conversations usually started with Evelyn out of breath and feeling a little grumpy because of her serious medical conditions. But after listening to her vent about her doctors and how she was feeling for 30 minutes, we enjoyed wonderful conversations and playful banter for an hour and a half or longer. Although she suffered from some significant physical conditions, Evelyn’s mind was as sharp as a tack.
Evelyn had a wealth of stories to tell, from her adoption and whether she was really a “love child” of Albert Einstein to her days of school in Switzerland to her time as a dog catcher, volunteer police officer, and 20 years as a cult deprogrammer. Evelyn was never at a loss for words or fascinating stories.
I remember one of the last times we spoke, shortly before her death. Evelyn had been battling angina for a number of years and the nitroglycerin capsules helped her tremendously. We were talking on the phone and she had a severe attack of angina. She excused herself for a couple of minutes so she could take her nitroglycerin, which seemed to work wonders for her.
I loved Evelyn because she was a bright woman with a keen (some would say wicked) sense of humor. We were each other’s best therapists. I remember the day Evelyn passed away. I received a call from the Albany police department asking me if I knew Evelyn Einstein. I answered that I did and asked whether anything had happened to her, but the police officer wouldn’t say anything more. Two hours later I received a call from the Alameda County Coroner’s office asking if I knew Evelyn Einstein. I remember saying, “You’re calling to tell me that Evelyn Einstein is dead, right?” The deputy Coroner affirmed that was the reason for his call. I didn’t get much other information out of him, as to the circumstances surrounding her death.
A day or two later I received a call from Kennan Salinero that she and Lou MacMillan, Evelyn’s dear friend for 40 years, had found a short handwritten will giving all of her estate to me. Lou later e-mailed me that Evelyn gave me her entire estate and that Evelyn liked me because I was the only honest lawyer which for her seemed a contradiction. Although I am a lawyer, I am mainly a legal writer, writing books, chapters, and articles for both legal professionals and the general public.
Evelyn left her worldly possessions to me because she cared about me. She told me who was to get certain things and I intend to honor her wishes. I would trade my inheritance in a second for a few more years talking with Evelyn. I have a big hole in my heart and void in my life with Evelyn’s passing. As I said, I loved Evelyn as much as it is possible for one person to love another. I will do my best to honor her memory and wishes and see that the estate is distributed according to Evelyn’s wishes.
Evelyn trusted me in life and I in turn vow to honor her memory in death.
Allen P. Wilkinson