Two tender tales have been circling my thoughts like proud, persistent eagles.
One is about Eleanor Roosevelt, the other, Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon.
Bunny was married to millionaire, philanthropist Paul Mellon for 51 years, while during that time, sharing him with a woman by the name of, Dorcas Hardin, a widow and tony boutique owner in Georgetown, the popular political enclave of Washington D.C.. She knew of the affair, tolerating it the way many women of her era did, including her best friend, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.
When Paul Mellon died at 92, in 1999, Bunny invited Mrs. Hardin to the funeral thinking, it was the right thing to do, and something her husband would have wanted. Mrs. Hardin, being rather correct herself, despite her duplicity, properly declined. Bunny then invited her two children to represent their mother, who came, Bunny seating them with the rest of she and Paul’s family.
Mrs. Roosevelt, when husband Franklin in 1945, suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia at the age of 63, had no idea he was with his long time love, Lucy Mercer Rutherford.
Though painful for her, it being the reason her marriage became in name only after discovering their love letters in 1918, found it in herself to bestow a magnanimous gesture.
At the time of FDR’s death, he was sitting for portrait artist, Elizabeth Shoumatoff, with Lucy at his side. They had resumed their relationship in 1941 with the help of Anna Roosevelt, Eleanor and Franklin’s daughter, unbeknownst to Eleanor. Despite being struck one more hurtful blow, Eleanor sent the picture to Lucy with a note saying, I thought you might like to have this.
These tandem stories move me greatly.
Amid pain and much betrayal, these two wounded women were still able to act with kindness, generosity and grace.
I don’t know given the same circumstances, would I have it in me to be as noble.
I guess you don’t know what you’re capable of, until you know. But in hindsight, it sure is impressive.