One of our town's more celebrated residents, Patricia Neal, died on Sunday at age 84, at home. Miss Neal, star of stage and screen, and well-known for her grace, courage, determination, and dignity, had been dwelling in our midst for the past thirty-one years. I did not know Miss Neal personally - as most of us have learned to do from our many years of bumping elbows with celebrities, I respected her privacy (certainly one of the reasons famous folks choose to live here, I think), but I did have one conversation with her on Main Street last summer that I will always remember fondly. Patricial Neal's presence added much to our town. She will be missed.
(Vineyard Gazette story here, and an interview with Miss Neal conducted by my daughter-in-law in the May/June 2009 issue of Martha's Vineyard magazine, here.)
This morning, in search of a simple photo with which to illustrate this posting, perhaps a simple shot of a flower poking through a fence, I rode my bike down to Miss Neal's neighborhood - tentatively, not wanting to intrude on a grieving family - and what I found was a truly lovely and poignant tribute to Miss Neal. Buckets of flowers had been placed on the fence posts at the entry-way to her home, and there was gentle classical music wafting from an open window, all obviously arranged carefully and deliberately, a gift for her friends, fans, and passersby; a loving tribute, both to Patricia Neal - to her beauty, her charm, and her graciousness -
and to the town she had called home.
Thank you, Patricia Neal.