I'd like to fly away

It's happened again. A woman in the earliest years of middle age has died suddenly, leaving behind a heartbroken husband and two young sons without a mother.

I'm referring, of course, to the actress Natasha Richardson . . . but I'm thinking of the author Katherine D. Jones, who passed away suddenly nearly two years ago. Does anyone else see a parallel here?

About 15 years ago I remember reading how the matriarch of the famous Redgrave family of actors had passed away, not in a hospital, not at the homes of any of her children, but at the home of her granddaughter, Natasha Richardson. A haunting photograph taken by her granddaughter just hours before the woman passed on accompanied the obiturary, showing a 93-year-old woman lying in bed, ravaged by old age and unable to do anything else but simply wait for death. I never forgot that stark depiction of extreme old age. I remembered being touched that the granddaughter took over the care of her grandmother in her last days. And now, sadly, that granddaughter will not be here to see any grandchildren she might one day have when her sons are grown.

Celebrities often use their fame bring the spotlight to areas of their personal interest, whether it be genocide, famine, disease . . . but the way celebrities die often raises awareness. It happened just last year, when Tim Russert's sudden death made everyone want to know more about heart disease. It happened about 10 years ago, when Sonny Bono and one of the Kennedy family died within weeks of each other after skiing head-on into trees (which will probably be mentioned again, since Ms. Richardson's head injury occurred during a ski lesson). The famous anti-smoking ads Yul Brynner and the director John Huston made that aired after their deaths from tobacco-related illnesses had everyone talking back in the 1980s. Look for all the news shows to feature segments on head injuries, and perhaps learn something. It will be Ms. Richardson's last gift to us.

Rest in peace, Ms. Richardson. And Katherine, you have not been forgotten.

P.S. When I left work a little while ago and turned on the car radio for the 6-minute drive home, they were just beginning to play the Commodore's classic, Zoom. I took that as a personal message. Whatever you may do with your life, make sure you enjoy it.


DonnaD said...

It's amazing that something so benign can turn into something so tragic. From all accounts, she hit her head on a bunny slope. I can't tell you how many times I've slammed my head into something and walked away, yet she falls, hits her head and two days later is dead.

My heart goes out to her husband, kids and mom. No mother should have to bury their own child, and no children should have to grow up without their mother. It's going to be tough road for all of them.

bettye griffin said...

Donna, I understand an autopsy is being performed and I'll be curious to learn if she had a prior injury that was aggravated by this seemingly harmless fall. Of course, the family is perfectly within their rights to keep the results private, so we may never know.

shelia said...

Bettye, I remember all too often about Katherine's sudden death. She was a friend of mine too. I recall one of our last conversations--about a month before she died and how she was ready for her move--not knowing the move wouldn't be here on earth.

I haven't heard Zoom in awhile but it is a reminder to enjoy life.

P.S. - I know I haven't been around much, but I've been busy working on edits, writing and spending time with my new beau (a man who has finally gotten me off the internet--so he might be a keeper...lol).

Carleen Brice said...


bettye griffin said...

Shelia, this is a wonderful time of year for a new romance! I'm happy for you. Enjoy it. And what a charming way to refer to the new man in your life!

Hey, Carleen! Glad you agree.