As a longtime admirer of Diana Palmer-Walker's, I was gratified to find her chosen, The Post's Mother's Day editorial, the woman who "may be the most remarkable mother of our time." Indeed, she may be, although she has only been a mother for a few weeks. But through factual error and omission, you eulogized her for the wron reasons.
Ms. Palmer-Walker, the wife of the Phantom of the comic strips, did, as you stated, recently spent an entire week giving birth to twins in her husband's ancestral residence, the Skull Cave. But the admiration you directed at her for "looking as good as she does at 63, and [being] married to a man who has lived most of his 380 years in a leotard" is incorrect as well as patronizing.
Please allow me to give you a quick history of this woman that will explain why she is a fitting symbol of the modern mother.
The person you blithely call "Diana Phantom" or just "Diana" is, as readers of the comic strip are aware, an associate director of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Before that, she worked for the World Health Organization, which she had entered through her training as a nurse. As a girl, she was an Olympic Gold Medal diver. Upon her marriage, in 1977, she kept her maiden name, Palmer, which she had so distinguished, and combined it with her husband's surname.
The Phantom is a title, not a name, and the current titleholder, whose name is Kit Walker (for "The Ghost Who Walks") is the 21st to hold it since 1536. He is therefore obviously not 380 years old, although his leotard may be. Lee Falk, who writes the strip, gives the Phantom's exact age as being "in the prime of life" and his wife's as "5 years younger." That makes her prime minus 5. Another calculation can be done from the fact that she appeared as a 7-year-old child in the strip some 30 years ago.
Theirs has been a modern marriage that has worked only because of the extraordinary capabilities of the wife and the psychological adjustments reluctantly made by the husband. Ms. Palmer-Walker's office is at the United Nations headquarters in New York, while her husband's hereditary job, which involves a more primitive approach to the cause of human rights, requires that he be based in the Afro-Asian country of Bangalla. It is she who has done the commuting. It is she who, with only a mouth of maternity leave left, must reconcile the demands of her career with the prime responsibility for their children.
Perhaps you begin to see why we working mothers are watching her progress with sympathy and anxiety.
Ms. Palmer-Walker is, in two respects, more fortunate than most women in her position. First, she has an understanding boss, the Germanborn American statesman Dr. Henry, now director of the Human Rights Commission, who plans to assign her to oversee the commission's work in Africa and Asia, which will allow her to be based in Mawitaan (formerly Morristown), the capital of Bangalla. (She doesn't know this yet; Falk leaked the information to this correspondent.) Second, there is good child-care help available in Bangalla.
The plan is for her to maintain a residence, with the children, in a treetop house they are building for the purpose in the suburban jungle, and she will commut to Mawitaan by jeep. The phantom will retain his principal residence in the Skyll Cave, which is hundreds of miles deeper into the jungle, but has said that he will spend much of his time with his family.
But his job and hers require much traveling. Many of us feel that the real tests will come when the two parents have pressing business at the same time, and the kindergarten calls to say that they are letting the kids out early today.
If Diana Palmer-Walker can handle that, she truly have earned the epithet of "most remarable mother of out time." CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, From "The Phantom" by Falk and barry; Copyright (c) , 1979, King Feature Syndicate, Inc.