To the Editor:
I appreciate The Times coverage of the life of actress Patricia Neal. She was an elegant and classy woman. Her death is a great loss to her family, friends, and this Island. To add to what The Times already reported about this remarkable lady, the obituary in the New York Times summarized the gripping aftermath of her relationship with screen star Gary Cooper. During her affair with Cooper, she became pregnant. She had an abortion, and according to her 1988 autobiography,”As I Am,” she cried herself to sleep for 40 years afterward. She wrote, “If there is one thing I wish I had the courage to do over in my life, I wish I had the courage to have that baby.”
There were many causes that defined Patricia Neal’s life. She loved Jabberwocky. She was in attendance a few weeks ago when the Jabberwocky staff and campers performed their annual summer play. She was also a pro-life Catholic. Her personal faith in God helped her gracefully transcend the many hardships and tragedies she experienced in this life. She had a daughter who died of the measles at the age of seven. She had a son who was hit by a car when he was an infant, and he remains alive but is brain-damaged. She had a husband who was great to her after she had the strokes, but he ultimately left her for a younger woman.
The New York Times article quoted her by saying “I’ve been paralyzed. I’ve fallen down and broken a hip. Stubbornness gets you through the bad times. You don’t give in.” It seems to me there was more to her strength than mere stubbornness. It was her personal faith in the God of Scripture that helped her to deal with the highs and lows of an amazing life.