ME and Ophelia

Thursday, November 13, 2003

My three best friends in life are now dead
No-one else knows me as well as they did

Yesterday, here in my blog, I posted copies of my first ever communication with Iris' niece, Rachel. Within a few hours of emailing her, she sent me a lovely long reply. Here's my response, emailed yesterday:

Dear Rachel

Thank you for your nice long email. I agree, it is strange to think that someone with a close history to your family is responding to you. And yes, what a strange and beautiful world this is.

You say your Mom has a beautiful picture of Iris, her Grand Mama 'Omi' and myself, taken at a casino restaurant in Las Vegas. I know the one you mean. I have one from the same set. It was taken by a professional photographer at a dinner show in Caesars Palace. A perfect summer's evening. We were all very happy. Omi was in good form and had a wonderful time. Everyone treated her royally, like a Queen, and Iris, as usual, looked after her very well.

Our dogs Mayday and Wally were at home together that evening, probably having a party. They liked to eat our cosmetics, especially the Chanel lipsticks, expensive creams and soaps. One Christmas night we came home after shopping and they had pulled down the 6' high Christmas tree, laden with baubles, and eaten all the chocolate decorations. Another time they upset a huge bowl of nuts, cracked quite a few open with their teeth and tipped over, and licked up, two glasses of red wine left on the table.

At that time we were living in the bungalow apartments situated behind where the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was built. It was a great apartment with a swimming pool just a few steps away from it's front door. Las Vegas was like a village in those days. Nearly everyone knew of each other. Staff everywhere knew each other and were very cheerful and friendly. It was a great town back then.

Big heavy Wally, with the looks of film star dog Benji, used to sit on Omi's foot with his back towards her and facing us, as she sewed. I still have a little brass thimble that Omi used for her sewing. Memories are flooding back.

I was sorry to read in your email that Iris' mother died a few years ago. What a woman. She had quite a life. Regrettably, I never met her. I imagine she was very smart and glamorous. We did speak over the phone a few times, the last time was in 1993 when I stayed with Iris at her poolside home with the six gorgeous cats that she took in as strays - one by one - and those two gigantic brown and black show poodles of hers that were as big as miniature ponies!

Omi is the only member of your family I met. Although Iris spoke fondly of all of her family, and her long-lost father, she was heartbroken when Omi died and spoke of her often. She meant the world to her. They are all together now.

My consolation is in knowing that Iris did not die alone. Had I known she was ill, I am sorry to say that there would have been absolutely nothing I could have done to help. My Green Card, even with the help of two lawyers and others, could not be resurrected during my last visit to the US, which is when I last saw Iris, as I had re-established residency back in England.

US immigration and residency permits were the bane of my life, and the reason I was forced to return to England and start from scratch all over again. It was a terrible time which is still painful and hurts to recall. It is a chapter in my life that I never talk about and try to forget. I was staying with Iris when I learned my father was dying of throat cancer in England. He died on October 3 1995, a year before Iris.

It was comforting to read in Iris' Obituary that her mother was by her side. And now I know, through your email, that your older sister Jenny was there too. That is good. It must have been awful for you all and especially for your mother, due to fly to Vegas from Minnesota that day, and grandmother. Not to mention the practicalities with you all living so far away. Iris would have been tickled to bits to read here that you worshipped her.

Lovely to read your news about your family and children. And that your Mom will be writing to me even though, as you say, her typing skills aren't so great and she is very slow. She must take after Iris in that respect!

It is now 9.15 at night and I must stop for now. My health is the same as I explained in my blog, no improvement yet.

Yes, I live in a wonderful place. Iris would have loved it. It's one of the reasons why her death is so upsetting to me. It never ever crossed my mind that she would not be alive. It took years of hard work to re-settle here again and now, just when I have all the time in the world.... I wanted to invite her here to stay for as long as she wished. It would have done her the world of good. Interesting walks on the beach, fresh cool sea air. She would have adored the beachcombing and fossil hunting after sea storms. Maybe she would have found an English husband!

Life's so peachy. The best one's go first. My three best friends in life are now dead. No-one else knows me as well as they did.

Forgive this disjointed note. Your emails have come as a shock and stirred me up. I need to rest now. Just wanted to say thank you for your lovely thoughtful email. It certainly turned my thoughts and blog down Memory Lane...

Yes, you do take after Iris. You have a lovely heart, I can tell.

With all good wishes and thank you again.

Ingrid and Ophelia (who is curled up asleep on her chair by the fire)

PS Every day I aim to publish a post in my blog. Sometimes it takes all day. This has taken all of today. I may have to use it as my post for tomorrow. Hope you don't mind!

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 11/13/2003
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