In 2012, I stopped in Collington’s Ivy Room after a Monday morning swim to have a Sunday’s leftover biscuit. I introduced myself to Grace Langley who was already seated there eating her biscuit. Since Grace speaks softly and I, without my hearing aids, opened the conversation with a safe subject of the leftover biscuits which we both agreed were very good despite their being cold. My wife Pat arrived and after getting her coffee, walked by the shelves behind the table with the biscuits and cardboard-like little donuts and picked up a stylized brass bird. She brought it to the table saying “isn’t this a beautiful bird?” Before I could agree Grace said “I gave it to Collington.”
She proceeded to tell us that she had gotten them (there was another on the shelf) in India and they were a jeweler’s tool that, when filled with water (no longer possible) and heated, produced steam which came out of the bird’s long bill which then was used to warm gold for the forming process.
We also found that Grace had a degree in anthropology from New York University and had spent 11 years in India and 7 years in East Africa, working primarily in rural areas. She had also been assigned to Afghanistan for 3 years before she asked to be reassigned because “they were a cruel people.” Too bad that she didn’t tell that to President Bush and maybe he wouldn’t have started a war. She was reassigned to Washington and was in charge of United States Assistance to Palestinians.
Grace is fascinating lady. Her picture is on the “bragging wall” with the Dali Lama.
Eventually Grace moved from independent living to the Creighton Center (Collington’s medical wing) because she could no longer live alone.
As head of the Opportunity Outlet (thrift shop), I was allowed into her apartment to move to the shop everything her closest relatives (2 nieces) were not taking.
The nieces took all of Grace’s treasured artifacts from India (including those from the 4th & 5th century) and 2 travelling trunks that I coveted. They were much like the ones the colonial British used to travel back and forth to India – POSH (port out, starboard home) – if they had the money. Her trunks were different. They were beautifully carved and the back of each trunk was convex so that they would fit on an elephant for her travelling to Northern India.
Where else but Collington can one have interesting experiences such as this?