Elizabeth Taylor, My Daughter and Me

Elizabeth Taylor has passed away at 79.  The news struck me hard this morning as I overheard it on The View my mother was watching in the other room. For much of my life, Elizabeth Taylor has been a story for the gossip rags and of course, flashbacks to her golden days of being a star.

Her series of marriages made me roll my eyes…would she learn? The heckling about her weight issues would seem far removed from a girl/young woman/woman that I was, but it wasn’t. It seemed that she was fair game for the heckling and if she was, then who wouldn’t be? I didn’t want to be splashed across magazines and tv with comments about my weight. (not that I was interested in pursuing a career in Hollywood)

Then there were those magical violet looking eyes. My eyes are hazel. I thought them quite ordinary as a child and worse. At some point, I realized that no, my eyes weren’t ordinary and indeed were often the most notable thing about my face. My eyes are big or look big. They also can be quite changeable. Never to violet though. I wanted the searing blue eyes I saw in a number of friends. I wanted my sister’s green eyes. Not my ordinary hazel eyes (though admittedly better than my other sister’s boring brown eyes). Then I saw the violet of Elizabeth Taylor. Wow.

One of my daughters struggles with her eye color. For some reason, she finds her siblings brown eyes more attractive. I look at her gray eyes with wonder and can’t imagine why she dislikes them so. Yes, they are different, but magical. Without her glasses on, you can see that they are as changeable as storm clouds over the sea and vary in color in the most amazing ways. Her father’s eyes are the same way, though not as beguiling as when put into the face that belongs to our daughter.  She doesn’t see it that way. She wants either “plain brown eyes” or the eyes I have which she has described as belonging to a fairy or wood nymph. I smile at the fairy reference because long ago I decided that was the only explanation for my strange eyes. (It couldn’t be that my father had very similar eyes–often described as “cracked marble,” fairy eyes makes more sense of course. 😉 )

In any case, eye color is one of those  things we often wish to change and notice in others. In my mind, those eyes of Elizabeth Taylor will last as something legendary, something so perplexedly wonderful. Those eyes that really showed a woman of difference, who worked to make a difference, who like the rest of us made bad choices and good choices and choices we won’t ever understand but a woman who touched so many hearts and souls.

I want that for my beautiful daughter with the gray eyes that belong to the sea–an endless sea of choices, of places to go, of things to see and to change–just like her changing eyes.




  1. Elizabeth Taylor and I share the same birthday. I always found her magical in her younger years. Performing roles that were larger than life. Her professional career was amazing and will stand the test of time.

    Her eyes were the most intriguing color of violet. I am the green eyed sister (which genetically doesn’t make sense – mother’s eyes blue – father’s eyes brown). I am also the sister with the reddest hair. (also a genetic question) but nonetheless my niece’s grey eyes are beautiful. They reflect the changing sky, the blustering clouds and the quiet of the sea at rest. They cover a soul as restless as the sea torn by tides and weather.

    And my sister’s hazel eyes are amazing. The color changes and melds with mood and atmosphere. They darken to herald the coming anger and they dance with firelight as perhaps the wood nymphs do under a full moon in celebration.

    Why is it when we lose someone and their mental photo fades, we can always see their eyes?


  2. I liked reading this post and comment. I’d read somewhere that Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes were blue but appeared violet because of the red capillaries behind the iris. ? I prefer to think that there are rare people in the world with actual violet eye color. (Betsy, your red hair and green eyes are, I believe, a genetic thing that happens in every kind of human all over the world – the red hair, anyway.) My eyes have never been a definite color that could be identified, and as I’ve aged they’re turned a lovely sea green, if I do say so myself. I can’t imagine why anyone would yearn for “plain brown eyes” that are so common. As my mother would say, ‘every cow in the barn has brown eyes. Mom said it, not me, lol!

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