Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Patricia Neal

She delighted in the simple: the depth of a sunflower, a doggy bag, a loud curse word, a filthy story. In the dearth of her memory, one was Darling, Divine One or Beauty, and anyone who was so addressed by her would know the honor that it carried. She was regal in every inch of her being, even in the face of the cancer that ravaged her. She told my aunt Ophelia that she was "a little offended" she had cancer, and why shouldn't she be? She had been so close to death in her life, danced neatly away from him, and here he was again, darkening her door.

Mor-Mor, as she was known to me, my siblings and cousins, died this summer, in her own bed, surrounded by her family. She told me she'd be gone before my baby was born, and she was right. The night before, she had dinner with her kids, kissed them each, raised a glass and told them she'd had "a lovely time."

Sophie Dahl

Dahl, Neal's granddaughter, is a writer, the author of four books and a contributing editor at Vogue