Vivian Nicholson

 “Sharing cigarettes, just holding one another and loving one another. That was when I had everything.”


I got to the Sunday paper only yesterday – such is the vida loca I live – and, upon arriving at the obituary pages, thought “Wait, I’ve seen that face.” Sure enough, it was the cover star of the Smiths’ estimable single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.”

If you haven’t heard it, listen at least for the outro alone. I can’t think of a lovelier interplay of guitars on a pop single. (Also, Johnny Marr – for it was he – apparently wrote the song in an hour. How’s your day going so far?)

As for Vivian Nicholson, I’m thinking of using the excellent obituary Margalit Fox wrote – with some modest bowdlerization – when we read The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl. It’s the tale of a rich idler who finds a noble purpose for his wealth. It will contrast to Ms. Nicholson’s tale, “a cautionary fable worthy of Aesop.”

Still, how can you not admire someone censured by her nursing home “for hanging her lacy lingerie in full view on the washing line and for shinnying down the drainpipe” to buy “wine and chocolates for her fellow residents”? When our time comes, may we all have fellow residents like that.