Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Ideal

I had googled her over the years. Knew her full name, knew how old she would be now, remembered her sister's first name, knew where she had gone to high school, college--googled her every which way I could and had a significant amount of information, and got nothing. "Ah," to self, "the old rule of old families: 'Your name should appear in the newspapers three times only, when you are born, when you get married, when you die." She had assiduously avoided getting her name in the papers. Social media? Facebook, whatever, no way, not her way. I figured that was it and forgot about it.

But I was sure she had gotten married and a society girl's wedding would have been announced. Couple years later I tried again. Unless she married into another old family, a Cabot, a Lowell, whatever, I was sure she would keep her last name, maybe not even then! or at least have used a hyphenated last name in the English fashion. Still nothing. I was sure she had stayed in the Northeast, New York, Philadelphia, Boston. Googled her with those cities as subsets. Nothing. Gave up again.

Then, after the Dr Ansley Erickson post, she so reminded me of Dr Erickson, I tried again. I came up with a photograph of her sister. The entry provided her sister's middle name, which I had never known, so I googled her sister's full name. An obituary. Oh my God. But not for her or the sister but their brother, whose name I had never known. In the style of obituaries, "he is survived by"...The Ideal--with an Indian last name, living in Starbuck's Nation.


Literally, I did not believe it initially. Had to be another false lead. Read the obit again. But with the sister's name, could it not be? It could not not be, it was her.

She had married a short, reasonably good-looking, Indian businessman billionaire, had taken his surname, had given her daughter an Indian first name also, further obscuring her previous identity, and had moved to the Great Northwest. Her previous identity had been erased, subsumed within the subcontinent's culture. Could not have been more surprised if she had changed her name to Song Binbin.

I have one picture of her, a small side portrait she had set in a sterling Tiffany frame and had given me as a gift. Kept it on my desk a hundred years ago. In a brief article on her husband: he has a photograph of her and their kids in a Tiffany frame on his desk.

Still my Ideal :)

Image: The White Girl, James McNeil Whistler. A postcard that she once sent me and which I still have.