Thursday, May 11, 2006

True Friends Are For Life (1)

Bea is sleeping today, still recovering from the bridge game, which she does not remember. I wonder if she ever played bridge with her best friends while at Vassar?

We are influenced by the friends we choose.

Bea is fortunate to have had three really good friends, roommates at Vassar, all generous, intelligent women with social conscience, who happened to have inherited money. Two had summer homes on Cape Cod, which was one of the reasons my parents moved here after Dad’s retirement in 1970. The third lived in Connecticut.

Let’s start with Bea’s third best friend, Kitty Stryker. “Pretty” Kitty married Ashton Dunn, then Alfred Bingham whose father was famous for having discovered Machu Picchu. Bea remembers Kitty fondly. During the last years of her life, Kitty had Alzheimer’s, which made Bea very sad.

Senior year Bea went to Kent Place, a private boarding school, and there met her second best friend. Since they had both been accepted at Vassar, Bea decided to room with “Miggits,” no doubt embracing the safety of a known commodity. (Bea felt rather intimidated by the social advancement that came in 1928 with admission to Vassar.) Theirs was a rather turbulent friendship. I remember Miggits as being outspoken and admired by peers. A teacher, she spent summers in Hyannisport, a block away from the beach. Margaret Campbell started a boarding school out in Colorado and did charity work after retirement. Sven & I accompanied Bea to Miggits' 90th birthday shebang in a tent by the sea. They seemed glad to see each other again, albeit briefly.

Bea’s other best friend, my godmother, was Nancy Macdonald, former wife to Dwight, famous author. It is impossible to say enough good things about Nancy. She was gentle, kind, and very wise. Bea always reminds anyone who will listen that Nancy was the moving force and angel behind Partisan Review. Nancy also founded and ran Spanish Refugee Aid, giving away her fortune in the process. Bea would visit Nancy as often as she could convince one of us to drive over the treacherous back roads to Slough Pond, on the Truro line. Mother was devoted to Nancy, who passed away in 1995. Her ashes were scattered in the dunes.

Nick and Elspeth Macdonald, Nancy’s son and daughter-in-law, come to visit Mother whenever they are in Wellfleet. Elspeth always reminds me that Bea was aware of what an enormous job elder care is and often thanked them for all they did for her dear friend.

I keep Nancy’s photo by Bea’s bedside.

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