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Patricia Neal’s Breadbox

14 Aug

I have Patricia Neal's breadbox. (For those of you too young to remember, Patricia Neal was a movie star who became a terrific actor. She was also an all-round plucky dame with a lot of class. She may be best known for her role in HUD, as a tough rancher who resisted the charms of Paul Newman. She was also married to Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who was a lot better writer than husband).

I have her breadbox because she regularly had house and yard sales at her Edgartown home, to support various island charities on Martha's Vineyard, where she lived a good chunk of the year.

She knew that if she had a house sale, her fame ensured that hundreds of visitors would show up, just to gawk at her and traipse through her house, and that they'd drop some serious change on her discarded chochkes. And that's what happened. She moved those units... including the breadbox.

So summer after summer she'd have a sale, seated at a table, signing 8 X 10 glossies (also for sale) and bravely smiling and tirelessly chatting up a long line of fans.
This was done with no small difficulty, because she'd had three strokes, was blind in one eye, and sometimes things didn't come out right. It was also hard to ignore that her eye make-up was askew and her lipstick wasn't quite right either.

Nobody cared. We loved her.

According to her kids, at the end of her life, at 84, having suffered through the deaths of two of her children, a husband who treated her very badly and then left her, the hard work of coming back (but not entirely) from comas, paralysis and aphasia... her last words to her kids were these:

"I've had a lovely time."

Just like a mannerly guest, leaving a swell party.

Now, how cool is that?

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.