07 July, 2012

Visiting Edith

Early this afternoon I took a trip up to Graceland Cemetery to visit Edith Rockefeller McCormick's grave-site. I seldom find myself in that neighborhood, so when I discover some extra time I always try to make a visit. I am also  making an effort to get up there more often this summer as it will be 80 years since Edith's death on August 25th.

Many people fail to understand that despite the great wealth and celebrity of her name, our complex and enigmatic Edith was quite alone (despite Edwin Krenn) in her later years. Every time I visit her grave beside Lake Willomere I am reminded of this, as it's placement in Graceland is quite separate from the other McCormick family members. (Harold and her son Fowler are buried in the McCormick family plot in a different area of the cemetery.)

What is poignant is that she is only interred with her two children who died very young; John Rockefeller McCormick (1896-1901) and Editha McCormick (1897-1898). The deaths of these two children of course had a profound impact upon her, and played a part in what led to her eight years in Switzerland with Carl Jung.

For many years after her divorce from Harold,  Edith was estranged from her three other children; Fowler, Muriel and Mathilde. None of them could tolerate her relationship with Edwin Krenn - and that led to an estrangement with their mother up until she became seriously ill in 1932. (Firebrand Muriel illustrated this best when finding herself placed next to Krenn at dinner one evening - she smashed a priceless plate on the floor and left the house; never to return, nor speak to her mother until they reconciled prior to Edith's death.)

Regardless of that, I enjoy the simplicity and beauty of Edith's site. I think it appropriate that she has a location all to herself with the two children she adored and lost. This separateness suits her personality and life, and although our summer of relentless heat has taken it's toll on Graceland Cemetery, as ever, it is still a lovely place to  visit. 

1 comment:

The Devoted Classicist said...

I agree completely. While some might view the simple memorial marker as a symbol of defeat for someone of such standing, I too find it very moving in both design and placement.