Elizabeth Taylor, RIP . . .
. . . but we know she will live forever up there on the big screen across which she blazed such a trail in the history of twentieth century cinema.
Her death has brought a slight lump to my throat and I am taken aback at the depth of my surprise. Her beauty, her passion, her Hollywood stardom glowed big time in the era of a true Mid-Century Modern which made its way all the way into the heart of the crazy family I had no choice but to call my own.
Liz might have been a star but to me, she was family, the missing aunt at the table where my mother sat with her sisters and talked the talk about Liz and her latest hairdo and husband. Good Catholic women, married with children, they drooled with envy at the life Liz was living and, as they turned the pages of the women’s magazines, they went along for the ride, all the way into fantasy land without ever leaving home. Liz took all their big-time risks for them and had the diamonds to show for it.
One aunt managed to pull off the Liz look. The curly black wig helped, as did the shaping and heavy pencilling of the eyebrows. Her husband, the non-Catholic, who was certainly no Richard Burton or Paul Newman, had enough money to provide this aunt with the clothes, sparkle and the Cadillac to bring into the house when they dropped by that touch of visiting Hollywood glamour and always, it was the Liz look leading the way.
Her films I had to find on my own and the one playing over and over in the small screening room at the back of my mind is the magnificent Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Maggie, the cat, having issues with that eternal pond of blue-eyed magnificence that was the brooding Brick whom we all knew as Paul Newman. Maggie’s heat, making its way through Brick’s icy heart, brought them together to become my ultimate fantasy parents, forever grateful not to be one of those dreadful no-necked monsters belonging to poor Goober and the forever pregnant Sister Woman.
How I should love to be back at that kitchen table, to be with my mother and the aunts in the mourning of Liz. The mourning of memories. The aunts, one by one, have left the table with one remaining, the Liz look- alike. My mother’s mind is leaving her and she lives in a loop that exists one minute at a time before it repeats itself.
Big lives, big hopes and big dreams with hearts that ached with so much love, and so many big thanks to all the wonderful women in my life .
Liz, who will never know it, was one of them.