-You knew her?
-Yes, we had lunch several times, and then, later, at the club....
-What was she like? What did he see in her for forty years?
-Let me put it this way: she enabled every beat of his heart. She made his life possible- a fact she saw more and more as time went on. He never quite figured it out- their very acceptable co-dependence- though he had occasional inklings. In short, she was his manager, his mom. He needed her in order to be him, which is saying a lot. And in a different way, she needed him, too. They validated each other. At first he thought he was doing her a favor; in the end, he knew she was doing one for him.
-She was the inspirational type- insisted he was a great painter. Without her, he might have been hum-drum- disorganized, hermetic. He was an attractive, charming man who could easily have wasted time. She didn't let him. Grist for the mill of human will is belief. And, ok, so she drank a little. She did her job.
-What was in it for her? Didn't she sacrifice a lot?
Hmm. In spite of the 'artistic' thing, he made a good living. Very. Having little by way of public talent, she was well provided. Food, a roof, respectability. Met lots of people. She was interesting, too. People with moral fiber have to direct it somewhere. She had determination, or something- kept a tidy house, too, and let him take it all for granted. And though they never cultivated Bohemia per se, she was nice to his friends and tolerated their eccentricities. The house on the Square was a sort of salon.
-For forty years?
-Un-huh. Once, about ten years before the end, she told me she'd come to a cross-roads. She got the staggering realization that time is not unlimited. It freaked her out, she said. She had to decide what she wanted- whether that was enough.
-Probably not- but probably yes.
What do you mean?
-She saw that her leaving would be the end of him. And at that point, she had fewer options- she was no longer a young woman. It was late for a career. There was the loneliness. They never had kids-
-Forgot to, I guess.
-Couldn't she have painted?
-Maybe, but as somebody once said, 'there are too many pictures in the world. Too many unnecessary pictures'.
-Who said that?