Saturday, June 20, 2015

Privacy? Secrecy?

She was well known of, though I would think that few if any knew her, let alone knew her well. She died in 1977, but I don't know what age she was. Old. I saw her a few times, a tiny dessicated figure tramping around in ancient, ragged clothes, the soles of her shoes flapping. Story was that she was rich: well, that kind of myth often follows that kind of person.
She lived above a small shop front that she owned, and it was the smell of her two dogs, dead from starvation after she herself had died, that attracted notice.
She had hoarded newspapers. Throwing them downstairs was the easiest way of moving them, and that's the only reason that they discovered the banknotes interleaveded through them, floating out as the papers were tossed. Over $1 million.
She'd left it to the Anglican diocese to build a hospital. They combined with the Catholic church to build an assessment/ nursing home. A rare ecumenical project.
When I heard that it was being built in the hospital grounds, I thought it a marvellous idea. Residents would be able to see visitors coming and going: doctors arriving, leaving. Parents going home with new babies. Ambulances. Life.
When I visited someone there I found that it had been carefully angled so that all these were out of sight. Through the one window, all that could be seen was a stretch of lawn. It was depressing to see 30 or so residents propped up in chairs in front of "Days of Our Lives," while in the annex a few, with presumably a bit more life than the others, quarrelled over who got the best view out the window.
Afterwards I asked Judy, the matron and old friend, why they had a large repro of "The Last Supper"at the head of the dining room. This seemed to me neither tactful nor encouraging. She laughed and said that she'd never noticed it.
The story I was told about the original she was that she was the sole child of a privileged family and that she fell out with them because of her chosen beau. As a result she suffered social exclusion, which she determinedly stuck with when said beau vanished, for whatever reason. Whether or not this is true, I have no idea. I googled her and found no results in the first four pages, except in reference to the above facility.
As she avoided people in life, I suspect that this erasure of her by a search engine might please her. But I regret it.


Elephant's Child said...

There are so many untold, or at least incomplete stories aren't there?
Perhaps she would relish her privacy, but I am sorry you couldn't find more.

Relatively Retiring said...

Do you know Alan Bennett's story (and play) about the lady in the van? There are many shades of that in your posting. Life is a mystery, sometimes to those who are actually living it.

Frances said...

Elephant's Child.: I've met some who swear they've met her ghost. Me, I'm not convinced. I think I regret that she felt a need to be so hidden. That she felt so apart from her community....on and on, not noticing,eveidently when the community had evolved. Or perhaps she couldn't care less, she was lost in ancient wars.

Relatively Retiring: I'd heard of it, knew the story. I haven't read it. You prompted me to google, and I saw Maggie Smith in action. Now, Maggie Smith is a fine actress who doesn't resonate with me, but all at once I saw her in an ideal role. It/she looked superb.
Overview: I think some such mavericks have some wisdom/insights to offer. Or, maybe not.