I'm not sure Vanya would approve of this blog. It's not that she was so private a person, she shared the details of her life, her thoughts and feelings quite openly. It's that she wasn't especially sentimental and perhaps this memorial blog might seem sentimental to her.
But she did like being valued, being appreciated, although I don't think she really had any idea about how extraordinary she was and could be. Often the things she valued in herself, when she went over her life events that she thought were significant, I didn't value so much. Here are a few examples. She was very proud about how she made costumes, sewed and put together odd things out of foam rubber. I seem to remember she made a costume of a toothpaste tube. Maybe it was for an ad, not sure.
She loved the way she could transform cheap pieces of cloth or common materials into a costume or fashionable clothing for herself. She loved going to the Salvation Army, finding some vintage leather coat, some badly tailored dress out of material she liked, some old skirt and reshaping it into something that looked marvelous and chic on her. She loved making costumes and clothing and had exceptional flair, wonderful chic. She took great care in how she dressed, always leaving her apartment looking impeccable. And when I would compliment her, she would always say, "Oh this! I bought it for $3 dollars at the Salvation Army and redid it." She always mentioned that she took something that was almost worthless in monetary value and turned into into something elegant.
I've never been that interested in looking fashionable, or haven't since I gained weight in the late 80's. Though I was pleased for Vanya, that she so enjoyed her seamstress skills, that she always looked so lovely, it was in other areas of her life that I was wowed by her creative abilities. And those areas she took for granted in herself.
Odd lack of sync as friends to admire qualities she took for granted in herself and to be not impressed by things she so valued in herself.
Today I left a message for both of Vanya's nieces, Jennifer and Vivian. Jennifer called back. There was the unresolved conflict between Vanya and Vivian, that I hope I was able to clarify, that Vanya did, finally, have an awakening and felt both compassion for her niece and remorse that she was not able to express it at the appropriate time. Vanya felt frozen by then in the onset of Alzheimer's to recontact her niece but was writing a letter of apology, expressing remorse to Vivian, when the Alzheimer's took terrible hold. Vanya's fear and shame kept her from calling Vivian directly. She felt better to put her thoughts on paper, into words but then the letter was so long it was never finished, never sent.
When Jennifer asked why had Vanya not been able to feel compassion for Vivian at the appropriate time, my response was that Vanya felt overwhelmed with maternal obsession for the deeply wounded, dangerous, homicidal, drug addicted sociopath, ironically named Angel, who had come into her life and about whom she wrote a book. She felt bound to him by her need to heal him, hope for his redemption, a belief that her love could cure him. That overrode her concern about anybody else, including her own life, since she put her own life in danger living with him.
What Vanya did, in siding with the abuser against the victim may remain unforgivable. What I do know is that Vanya did, in the end, feel remorse for not protecting Vivian, for not siding with her niece.