I once knew an Italian Countess

February 7, 2013

This Italian Countess –

I worked with once –

her family  lost all of their property to Mussolini during WWII…and she lost her family to the bombings …..left for the US …in the 40’s…she was  in her teens….the memory of her parents burned so so strongly into her soul….

when I met her ..she had been married  in NY to a  handsome dancer….who died  way too young …she had not much money …smoked like a chimney… had a VERY regal bearing (sp?)…was a Handsome Woman…and strong as a brick

I traveled a lot back then…3 times a year to London at least…cruises in the Mediterranean …

she said “Robert…you MUST live NOW…Love Life to the hilt …as when you get older…well Life is different..”

Another woman I knew…whom I have written about before…who was our Secretary of State’s (Dean Acheson..one of the most successful Secretary of States to date) niece….Nona Ryder Acheson Allen….. born in Paris….and spoke 4 languages…

She was married  3 times…the first time to a gay guy and then to a Mexican millionaire (billionaire today)….who married her really just for her political stature…he treated her like dirt….he bought the “Weatherbird” – from the actor Peter Ustinov (sp?) ….which at the time was the largest yacht in the Mediterranean…she loved the crew especially  when Maurice left the ship…

they sailed everywhere….

When I look back …I realize what low self esteem she had….as she allowed men to walk all over her…even the actor/dancer  Gene Kelly…who was married at the time…had a brief affair with her…..

She finally married a man…who was one of the tops at IBM…but who developed cancer – he was the first man she really loved  and nursed him through his illness….died…leaving all of his money to his son by a first marriage..who HATED his mother-in-law….and had her TOTALLY cut out of his father’s will…Nona had to sue…to get a stipend….

Nona and I had a brief affair….she gave me a  wonderfully weighted Gold Cartier Lighter…back in the days when I smoked…it had a wonderful CLICK to it ….that you heard after up  lit your cigarette …and exahaled  through your nose …. mouth …..your first Bette Davis breathless   smoke….I lost  the lighter at “Michael’s”  after brunch with George and his  wonderful wife Donna …whom I always have adored as SHE has balls…is direct and honest…..will love her til death!!!

Nona had an elegance I had never, nor since then have  seen…she dressed impeccably….as time went on and she lost her money foolishly…she ALWAYS had the same structured decorum from her wonderful apartment  filled with antiques to her couture clothes (she worked for Vogue at one point)… to her enunciation….

She was a TOTAL “Falling Leaves” Romantic…..the small apartment she had at the end  of her life……on Lloyd Place in West Hollywood…she had trompe l’oeil (sp?) of a long French Chateau’s garden painted on one of the walls …that went on forever…You REALLY felt you were looking out over a wonderful garden….

She developed cancer…and fought it valiantly…ran out of money one Christmas …could not pay the lady that looked after her….

so I gave her $2000.00 that I had to borrow off my credit cards…with the condition that she give a wonderful Christmas present to her care-taker

she had  already sold her mother’s Acheson’s  Silver…(which was quite quite old and wonderful)…

Nona I did love for herself…but she  had such low self esteem that she NEVER came into her own….as she could have with all these f-ing men……she could have been such an influential woman…as she really had it all…it was the times…the way woman were treated..(well they still are)…..

I realize now people  of “privilege”…have less strength…less push and balls than those that are not born that way……

Then she started to fail …and I had a terrible thing about someone dying…(this is 20 some years ago..when I was in my 40’s)….

Due to I  guess  (when I was in my 20’s and had just graduated from Carleton) to seeing my wonderful Grandmother “Gabby”…linger on for months and months and months  and then die….

I use to go down every weekend to La Jolla to  visit my Grands….she was a Christian Scientist….so no one really knew what knocked her low…but she was bedridden and speechless for what seemed like a million years (as years do when you are in your 20’s)….

Will never forget the night she died …the Christian Science nurses ..called me at the motel I was staying at  to come over and witness the fact that she was Dead…(which made  NO sense to me …if she is dead..she is DEAD…how can I tell them anything they don’t know…..)

it was like 3 in the morning…..I went into her bedroom..which opened onto the ocean……there were no lights on in the room…..her body was bathed  by the Full moon that poured in from the  ocean facing  windows ….you could hear the waves  crashing  onto ….the rocks below…

.she had lost so much weight over the months that she looked really like a skeleton with skin on it…..

I felt I HAD to kiss her…but just could not…COULD NOT kiss her on her lips…so kissed her on her cheek…(which as a child I remember had a wonderful powdery scent)….and  to this day I still feel badly that I did not kiss her on her lips….

So consequently my failure for Nona…was for NOT being there as she died….something I will regret always….

I apologize for talking about death so much…but I wrote 2 weeks ago about my dear friend Doris’s death…..which really I have not been able to get over…

At work we have a new voice mail message system that I have not totally discovered…but someone called me today…and the mechanical lady told me I had one NEW message and one saved message…..(which I do not ever remember hearing)

When I played the “saved” message..it was Doris…again saying…. “I can’t sleep…just want you to know how much I Love You!!!…

(needless to say I saved it)

The Point of this post is to follow my Old Italian Countess’s  advice…LIVE EVERY MOMENT…..

if you don’t YOU  won’t know…

But there are Many, many people that will NOT  benefit by your wit and wisdom…(that you feel you might not  have…BUT YOU DO!!)

the “Falling Leaves” essence of YOU…is SOO important to share…..and again you might think you have nothing…but YOU DO!!!…

I promise…as my Italian Countess promised me……

And God Rest her soul…she WAS right!!!!

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