Ms. Neal died at the age of 84 on Martha’s Vineyard August 8, 2010. She was an Academy Award winning actress. She had a house on Martha’s Vineyard. She was married to the spectacularly successful British novelist, Roald Dahl. She had a hot affair with Gary Cooper, back in the day.
“What are you thinking, Mrs. Crabby? She’s awesomely lucky and spectacularly successful! How can she be regular folks like us?”
Why, I’m glad you asked, hon. I’ll tell you.
~Her first child died at age 7 from measles.
~Her 4-month-old son, Theo, was crushed in his pram between a taxi and a bus on a New York street, leaving him brain-damaged.
~While starting a brilliantly successful career in acting, she ended up cast in films, without having any film training, and tanked early on. She had to work very hard to get back on track. And then, after winning her Oscar for “Hud” in 1964 – had three strokes while three months pregnant with a daughter.
Because her husband, Roald Dahl, had learned so much about brain trauma from their son’s injury, he knew exactly how to help his wife.
He got the best doctor he could find involved immediately. And then he was brutal in the rehabilitation process. She called him many names and said in her autobiography: “I knew at that moment that Roald the slave driver, Roald the bastard, with his relentless scourge, Roald the Rotten, as I had called him more than once, had thrown me back into the deep water. Where I belonged.”
She had her daughter, who was healthy, went back to work doing what she loved and two years later divorced Roald. It seems he had been having a long-term affair with one of her best friends.
She survived lung cancer. She broke a hip. She’s been paralyzed. And when she died, some of her last words were “I’ve had a good time.”
And that’s resilience, hons. That’s getting back up and throwing yourself back into the fray to insist upon what is yours. That is what I mean by shutting up and sucking it up.
She started out swell, hit the pits, got back up, sailed away, got gob-smacked by life storms, floated face-down into harbor, was stuck up on a rack and sanded to bones, then rebuilt, then hit the seas again for another lovely sail – though she had the choice to “stay safe,” and didn’t. And got smacked upside the head again and again, and kept getting up for another round of lovely wind.
What grace and aplomb she had. A regular person to be sure, who did her best with what she had and kept getting up. Certainly a good example for us all, hons.
Now go insist on what is yours. With good manners, of course, and regard for others.
Really, you have to be able to say “fuck you” while you are crying.