Monday, August 2, 2010

Bunny's Story

Loudoun Sunrise, 2005

(Click on picture to see web better.)

Our friend Bunny was always on her own.

She grew up in the big townhouse on Fifth Avenue, the only child of an wealthy couple. Her family’s wealth, originally derived from a single invention created by her grandfather, had been cultivated through careful investment during the Gilded Age into one of the largest family fortunes in America. You would probably recognize the family name. You might have even studied the invention in school.

To an outsider, Bunny’s childhood looked idyllic. There was the big house on Fifth Avenue, the country estate at Great Neck, the private rail car, the nannies and nurses and tutors when she was little, the good boarding schools, the trips to Europe with her mother.

But Bunny's life was anything but idyllic. Both of her parents had been brought up in great wealth with no expectation that they would do anything more productive or stressful than look good in public and lift martini glasses to their lips. They had no idea what to do with their daughter, who grew to be smart, independent and athletic. Bunny married the lawyer son of a another prominent family. He took her to live on an estate in the Virginia hunt country. The husband later became a senator and after that a federal judge.

Even as an adult, Bunny’s life looked idyllic. Bunny never cared to live in Washington during the week with her husband, preferring to stay home in the country, where she raised her two children to become strong, independent adults.

While the children were little, Bunny became involved in the life of their schools and in doing “good deeds.” When the children were grown and had gone off to make their own lives, Bunny started helping out part-time in a friend’s real estate office in one of the local towns. People who did not know anything more about Bunny than her last name and her family history looked upon this as something akin to Marie Antoinette playing peasant at Versailles. But over time Bunny became a success at selling country estates. She had a name people liked be associated with, she knew the history of every farm in the country, she knew how to tell good land from bad and was comfortable dealing with tycoons, foreign royalty and others who sought the bucolic privacy of the area.

This is how it continued for decades, or at least until Bunny’s husband died of a heart attack while hearing a case just before his 62nd birthday. As you might expect, the funeral was big and attended by family, friends, former colleagues from the Senate, fellow judges, a variety of Washington insiders and friends from his college days. Unrecognized initially among the mourners was the husband’s mistress of many years, a striking woman who after the graveside service approached Bunny, spit on her and told her that the husband had never loved her.

Bunny’s children and friends quickly surrounded her and did their best to assure her of their support. But Bunny knew that she was then, as she had always been, on her own.


  1. Well, ultimately, I guess, aren't we all? Poignant. Everyone has a story, for sure. Wonderful photo.